Cucamelons are native to Mexico and Central America and are open-pollinated, grape-sized cucumber cousins. They are known as Mexican sour gherkins or mouse melons. They look like tiny watermelons (on the outside) and have a cucumber-lime flavour. Their lush vines will need support (trellis or fence) and can grow as high as 1.2-1.5 m (40 to 50”) tall with a spread around 10-15 cm (4-6”) wide. They are ready to use when they are grape-size and still firm to the touch. They are easy to grow and a vigorous climber/trailer.
Start seeds indoors the same time you would begin seedlings for cucumbers, and plant them outdoors at exactly the same time (April to May). Cucamelons are a little more tolerant of cool weather than most cucumbers and the plants are fairly drought-resistant. The plants make pretty, high-yielding vines that can be planted really close together to get the most out of a small space, as little as 15cm (6in) between plants around a trellis of fence. Cucamelons are also fine to grow indoors as long as they get enough light and heat. Place seeds on end, blunted end pointing downwards in compost of soil mix and simply push into the soil until they are out of sight. Water thoroughly and germinate at a temperature of around 24°C (75°F). When two or three seed leaves have developed, reduce the temperature to around 18 to 21°C (65 to 70°F). Cucamelons take a while to germinate, upwards of 4 weeks. The key factor to speeding this up is giving them enough heat. Usually a sunny windowsill is perfect
Planting Depth: 12mm-2.5cm (½-1") deep. ”Out of sight”
Germination: 6-10 days.
Height at Maturity: Vining type – require trellis of fence. Cucamelons will climb to about as 1.2-1.5 m (40 to 50”) high with trellis/ fence support. Spread: 10cm to 15cm (4 to 6”) wide.
Days to Maturity: Harvest from June to September.
Watering: An inch of water a week ensures good growth, whether vegetables are grown in single or wide rows. The amount of rain that falls during the week affects how much you should water your garden. Keep soil consistently moist. Inadequate or inconsistent watering may cause irregular growth and you may end up with oddly shaped cucamelons. We utilize drip irrigation to keep leaves dry and slow disease development.
Sun/Shade: Full Sun
Spacing after Thinning: 15cm (6") between plants in rows that are 121-152cm (4-5’) apart.
Additional Information Cucamelons are a tender perennial and cannot endure heavy frost. If cold temperatures threaten, cover the seedlings. Cucamelons produce a tuber that can be dug up in the fall after a few frosts and used to plant the following spring provided that they are stored properly. Digging cucamelon tubers is easy. They have a fibrous root ball that will be found in the top foot of soil. Tubers can be a white to beige color and extend a bit deeper and are about 10-15 cm (4-6”) long. Don’t try to harvest the tubers by pulling out the plants. Dig tuber out using a fork or shovel, about a foot away from the main stem, gently lifting to expose any tubers. Use your hand to move the soil out of the hole and to locate the tubers. Handle just-harvested tubers carefully to avoid bruising or damage. There’s no need to wash them off as the tubers will be stored in soil. Use a large diameter plastic pot or pail, 38-40 cm (15”) wide, and a high-quality, pre-moistened potting soil. Add about 3 inches of soil to the bottom of the pot, and place a few tubers on the soil surface. Space them so that they do not touch. Add another layer of soil and more tubers. Be sure to sure to cover the last layer with a few inches of soil. Store the pot in a cool, frost-free spot for winter; an unheated basement, a modestly heated garage, or a root cellar.