Cucamelon, also known as “mouse melon” or “Mexican sour gherkin”, is a small, grape-shaped cucumber-like fruit that grows on a vine. It is a hybrid of watermelon and cucumber. It has a thin, edible skin and a tangy, slightly sweet taste. Cucamelon plants are usually grown from seed, which are planted in the soil and require warm temperatures to germinate, usually around 60-95°F. Germination takes about 7-14 days and the mature plants are ready to harvest in about 50-70 days, depending on the variety. Cucamelon is a good source of vitamin C, and other essential vitamins.
- Growing cucamelon from seed requires the following steps:
Start the seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area.
- Plant the seeds in seed trays or small pots filled with seed compost and cover them with a layer of compost or vermiculite.
- Keep the seed trays in a warm place, around 60-70°F, and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. The seeds should germinate within 7-14 days.
- Once the seedlings have grown their first set of true leaves, transplant them into individual pots filled with a good quality potting compost.
- Gradually acclimatize the seedlings to outdoor conditions, over a period of 7-10 days, before transplanting them into their final growing position in the garden after all danger of frost has passed.
- Plant the seedlings in a sunny spot in well-drained soil, with a trellis or support nearby for the plants to climb on. Space them about 18-24 inches apart.
- Water the plants regularly, especially during dry spells, and keep the soil moist.
- When the plants are about 6-8 inches tall, pinch out the tips to encourage branching and fruit production.
- Start harvesting cucamelons when they are about 1-1.5 inches in diameter. They will continue to produce fruit throughout the growing season.
- Cucamelon is a warm-season crop, it’s best to plant them in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. They are also suitable for container growing, as long as the container is large enough to accommodate the vine.