Growing Cucamelon (Melothria scabra) from seed to harvest. Also known as Mexican miniature watermelon, Mexican sour cucumber, Mexican sour gherkin, mouse melon, or pepquinos, it is a species of flowering plant in the cucurbit family grown for its edible fruit. Its native range spans Mexico to Venezuela. Botanically, the Cucamelon is neither a cucumber nor a melon, but instead a distinct plant in the Cucurbitaceae family. This plant is very productive and perfect for growing in South Africa, as it can withstand high temperatures and infrequent watering.
Growing Cucamelon from Seed
- Seeds should ideally be direct sown in the spring.
- Alternatively you can start the seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the average last frost and plant outside 9-12 inches apart.
- Cucamelon seed needs a temperature of around 23ºC to germinate successfully.
- Once the seedlings have reached a height of about 6cm they can be transplanted from trays into individual pots.
Maintaining Cucamelon Plants
- Cucamelons like a sunny position with well-draining soil.
- They can be grown as a climbing plant with a trellis or they can also be placed in a pot and allowed to cascade over.
- Once established, Cucamelons can handle being watered only once a week or twice a week.
- The vines do not require pruning, but you can trim off any dead foliage to improve air circulation.
- After the vine has ceased to bear fruit by late autumn, cut down the dead foliage to ground level. If the winter in your area is generally very cold, then the tubers can then be dug out, lifted and stored over winter in slightly moist compost before replanting in spring. If the winter in your area is generally mild, then you can leave the tubers in the ground and the pant will start sprouting new growth again in Spring.
- Harvest the fruits when they are about 2.5 cm in length and still firm to the touch.
- Twist or cut the fruits from the vine, being careful not to damage the plants.
- Avoid letting the fruit ripen too much on the vine as they will become to seedy and lose their crisp texture.
- The harvested Cucamelons can be kept in the refrigerator for about 1 week.
Information is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment offered by healthcare professionals.