Pepino Growing Diary

This year John has had a bumper crop from his pepino plant in a Rain & Drain Small.

I hope to do even better than last year’s record crop. To help me achieve my aim I have taken measures to eliminate the factors which took a toll last time out.


We cannot assume we will get better weather however much we might hope for it and last year the crop was partially lost to early hard frosts (which now with hindsight appear to have been a harbinger of things to come).
The exposure to cold seemed to cut short the ripening process of the fruit which anyway ripen only late in the year so we were left with quite a lot of unripe fruit some of which was too immature to ripen indoors off the plant.
But don’t be put off we still had a lots of the most delicious fruit.



So I’m making an unusually early start. My pepino cuttings have been protected over the winter in my VITOPOD and as spring approached I started them into growth by raising the temperature setting. Now they are fine plants and I’m going to set them out in my GS300 during the third week of March which is a month earlier than I would normally plant out.

To protect them from the inevitable frosts I have rigged up a small EXO FRAME. This sits on top of the horizontal support frame. Each evening I will cover the plants with a layer of bubble film lying over this frame.



Years of experience with frost protection has taught me not to make any use of frost forecasts so I’m putting the bubble film on every night until the risk is over and this way I won’t be caught out. I could of course still fall victim to a fairly severe frost which we cannot rule out and that’s why I have “back-up” plants in the VITOPOD. I’ve also put a solution heater in the GS300 set to 22°C. This will add usefully to the frost protection. I will switch the heater off about the middle of April.

In addition, I have raised the horizontal netting on which the pepinos are supported to about 30” (0.75M) also with EXOFRAME. This is to make it easy to access the earliest ripe fruits without disturbing the dense canopy.


I’m very conscious that in 2008 the crop of pepinos was slow to ripen “on the plant” and that we nearly lost the fruits to an early frost.

Also, note the photo of the fruit hanging in the “tunnel” which has formed as a result of raising the plant support on 0.75M EXOFRAME legs. This was done precisely to enable me to pick the mature but unripened fruit from below without disturbing the foliage. It also keeps the fruit clear of slugs.


Previously, I reported how I’d started this year’s plants in the GS300 just that bit earlier to try and give more time to ripening but I’m also working to ripen the fruit “off the plant”. I’m sure this is the way forward as you can see from the photos how the fruit is shaded by the large green canopy which keeps the fruit in the dark and cool.



It’s still a challenge to pick the fruit but it has been very rewarding. I have been storing the picked fruit on a wire mesh in the polytunnel and sure enough they have almost instantly turned yellow indicating a rapid ripening process.
In fact it has happened so quickly that I wish now I’d started to pick fruit rather earlier. I shall make note for mid August next year.

I note last year’s total yield from the GS300 was 19.8kgs and I am weighing all the fruit as it’s picked. It will be a close thing but my feeling is that I might just have improved a kilo or so.