How to Grow Cucamelons - step by step guide
How to grow Cucamelons
Cucamelons look like mini watermalons and taste like cucumber with a hint of lime. Also known as Mexican sour gherkin or Mouse Melon, they originated in Mexico but are easy to grow here. They are drought tolerant and best of all most garden pests totally ignore them!
Beware! Even though they produce masses of fruit throughout the summer, very little makes it as far as the kitchen, being eaten straight off the plant by anyone who passes. They are just so pick-able and bite sized! If any of them do make it into the kitchen cucamelons can be eaten in exactly the same way as a normal cucumber in salads and sandwiches. They are also great served with drinks along with a few nuts and olives. Alternatively use it in the drink itself and serve a Cucamelon Martini or add a magic twist to G&T or Pimms on a summer day.
How to sow cucamelons
Sow seeds blunt end down, 1cm (1/2") deep from April to May. Keep on a window cill or greenhouse with a temperature of 22-24ºC (71-75ºF) Water regularly. When the seedlings are large enough to handle transfer them into 10cm (4") pot. Once they are established you can move them to their final growing place. This can be a greenhouse, or outside in a planter or the ground. To grow them outside wait until the last frost date has passed and then plant 30-40cm (12-16?) apart. They are climbers so need a support of some sort. This could be canes or a planter such as the Climbing Tomato Planter that has an inbuilt support.
How to care for cucamelons
Water and feed regularly with a liquid tomato fertilizer. Once the main shoot has reached a around 2.5m (8ft), pinch out the growing tip to stop it going further. Also pinch out the growing tip of the side shoots when they are about 40cm (16?) long.
How to harvest cucamelons
The plants will start to fruit in July and carry on to late September. Harvest them when they are the size of olives or small grapes and are still firm. Don't leave them any longer or they will become bitter and/or soggy.
Cucamelons can be nursed through the winter to give fruit year after year. Once the fruiting period is over, lift the cucamelon’s main root and store in barely moist compost in a garage or shed over winter. You can then plant it out again in April to start all over agian.
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