I decided to try heart shaped leaf variety first. Finding seeds or even much information in English was not easy. I have to thank two gardeners, who agreed to send me some seeds -Caro and Heather.
Seeds are shaped like arrows and are dark in color:
Seeds sprouted in a few days, and grew well, but once I transplanted them into the garden, they turned yellow and then disappeared (maybe some animal ate them). I tried again, and had yelowing problem with some, and some were doing better. This time I covered them with plastic water bottles to give some protection from being eaten and shaded them with burlap bags for a few days to reduce transplant shock.
They grew slowly at first:
Then they grew and grew and grew, until I ran out of sticks and string. I have an arbor, but it is taken by the loofah. Then they started blooming in those tiny yellow flowers:
For about two weeks I was worried, because they had lots of flowers, but no fruit was forming. I saw some small flies sitting on them, and I think they are the pollinators for the achochas. I have plenty of bees, but they were not interested at all. It seems, that achochas like many cucurbits, set just male flowers the first couple of weeks. I was relieved to see tiny fruit forming after that. :) Here is the very first fruit:
After the first one others are coming. The best time to pick them to eat as a cucumber, whole that is, is when they are this small:
Not sure why this blog turned second picture, but I can't seem to find the way to fix it. It shows same achochas inside -seeds are not formed yet, and the whole fruit can be eaten as a cucumber and taste is very mild, as a cucumber with slight taste variation. However it is juicier than cucumber. My 12 year old son said he doesn't like it, but he ate all of them twice I gave them to him. :)
Just a bit later, fruits get half or fully formed seeds (light brown at first, then darker brown and finally almost black brown.) and at this stage they are best cooked or juiced:
Unfortunately information, that they do not have pest problems in US yet, doesn't seem to be true in my garden, leaves started getting yellow, and I think I found a culprit- green stink bug:
That said, they did much better for me than cucumbers, that each year get killed by large numbers of greenish and brownish aphids being herded by Argentian ants. I tried banana peel trick, but it seems like it works very well just for yellow and black aphids, not the ones, that attack cucumbers.
It took achochas about 45 days from transplant to the first fruit. I garden near the ocean in zone 10, and this summer was unusually hot, so it might have been a lucky thing for the achocha growing. I transplanted them at the end of June, and had fruit in the middle of August. I am glad I tried growing them. :) I will try other variety in spring, and might grow this one again, but later than as I want to be able to save seeds, and not to have them cross.