Cucamelon - Mexican Sour Gherkin
Approximately 30o seeds per gram
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.
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.