Have you ever seen a watermelon the size of a grape?
What if I tell you that it probably wasn’t a watermelon at all, but cucamelon, a cute, tangy fruit that comes from Mexico?
After focusing on different flowers and vegetables, I’ve decided to go wild and present you something completely different.
If you were wondering how to enrich your garden with something new, tasty and unexpected – cucamelon is my first suggestion.
I will help you learn how to plant it and take care of it.
With this guide, you will have a new fruit to add to your salads sooner than you think.
Common Knowledge About Cucamelon
Many of you might be hearing about this exotic, cute little plant for the first time.
So, here’s some necessary information you need to know before you start planting cucamelons all over your garden:
As you can see, if you decide to plant cucamelons, you’ll be having a rather interesting fruit on your hands. The vine will provide tons of fruit, which you can share with your friends and the whole growth process will be more straightforward than you expect.
Don’t even get me started on the reasons why you should grow mouse melons.
I’ll explain everything in a few seconds.
Required Tools And Materials
As I said, cucamelons are not demanding to cultivate.
When it comes to tools and materials, you won’t be needing any expensive pieces.
The thing is, you can plant melothria scabra directly in your garden if you pick the right time and the right conditions, or you can start them in containers and move them to the garden later.
However, here’s what you should get:
Unfortunately, cucamelon seeds won’t be available at your local co-op or The Home Depot. You’ll have to do some digging and purchase them online. However, they are just as affordable as any other seeds you would buy at online stores. Most commonly, you will get about 30 or 60 seeds in a package.
Once you plant your first mouse melons, you can save their seeds for later sowing. What you’ll need to do is pick up the overripe fruit and store them in a cool, dry area for 1-2 weeks to allow them to ripen further.
Then, slice the fruit in half and scoop out the seeds. Put the cucamelon seeds in a jar of water and leave them to sit for a few days.
Wait for the most of the seeds to sink to the bottom and pour out the leftover water and bad
seeds from the top. Rinse the seeds a few times and spread them on uncoated paper plates to dry.
Once the Mexican sour gherkin seeds are completely dry, you can plant them or store them in a cool, dry place.
Preparing The Soil
Whether you decide to plant your cucamelons in containers, pots or directly to the ground, you’ll need to do some soil preparations. Don’t worry, nothing overcomplicated - cucamelon is a forgiving pant.
Make sure that the temperature of the soil is around 65◦ F, which means if there is frost outside, you’ll need to wait a few more weeks or start your plant indoors. The soil pH should be mildly acidic, somewhere between 6.0 and 6.5.
You should use good quality potting soil and prepare it with compost and balanced fertilizer or organic, aged manure.
Remember, cucamelons like fast draining soil. Your first task is to choose the containers that have good drainage holes and make an optimal soil and compost mixture.
Additionally, if you apply mulch to the soil surface, it will help you suppress weeds and maintain optimal soil moisture.
Planting The Cucamelon
Funny, little, mouse melon is a vining plant, and as I’ve mentioned previously, you will need a trellis to plant it. You can expect your plant to grow from 3-5 feet high, so make sure that your grille is tall enough.
However, before we get to that, here’s are the “when” and “where” of cucamelon growing:
You can sow the seeds indoors in mid to late spring or wait until the last frost date in your region and sow them directly outdoors.
If you decide to start your plant indoors, place the containers on a windowsill or in a greenhouse, where the temperature is between 71-75ºF. Cover the containers at night with a clear plastic lid. This will keep the humidity and the warmth in.
If you decide to plant the cucamelon in your garden, make sure to do this in full sun. Sow the seeds blunt end downwards, ½ to ¾ inch deep in the ground.
Luckily, no matter where you plant them, cucamelons don’t require a lot of room to grow. Save space by planting several plants fairly close together to share one trellis.
The distance between two seeds or seedlings should be about 6-12 inches.
If you want to increase your odds of success, sow more seed than you actually need and maintain them in a consistently warm environment.
At last, you should know that mouse melons have a seed-to-maturity-time of about 80 days, which means they will start to fruit from July to late September.
Caring And Pests
Cucamelon is an exceptionally resilient plant. It is drought tolerant and more pest resistant the cucumbers. Different diseases, birds, and other problems simply seem to avoid it.
Caring for cucamelons is similar to caring for cucumbers, but with less pest control and no special pruning techniques. They reseed easily on their own, as well.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
Water your plants often and give them a dose of compost once a month.
When flowers first appear, add small amounts of fish emulsion, once a week. This will ensure prolific fruit production.
Make sure to avoid high nitrogen fertilizers, as they will result in decreased fruit production. If you want to step up your game, you throw in an occasional bone meal.
As you can see, planting an exotic plant such as cucamelon, can be super simple. You will know that it’s ready to pick when the fruits are the size of small grapes and firm.
I have another pro-tip for you.
Once you harvest the fruits and enjoy their unique taste, go back to your garden. You will discover that your cucamelons have long, tuberous roots.
Overwinter them and thank me later.
This will offer you an earlier crop and twice as much fruit.
If you have any questions, thoughts or opinions, feel free to leave me a comment.