I know what you are thinking, what’s a cucamelon? I asked the same question last year as I watched and read posts of this unique and tasty fruit. I saw colleagues of mine growing it in the mid west and in eastern Canada. Could this cute plant grow here on the west coast of BC? I had to try. It’s known under many names from mexican sour gherkin to mouse melon and now cucamelon. This plant originates from Mexico and Central America and has been grown for years. How could we not have known about it?
As you can see above, its tiny and harvested when its the size of a grape. It’s a cucumber that has hint of lime to it. The seeds are easy to start but start slow so be patient. I started mine in the greenhouse but I will start them outside in the raised beds next year. What I noticed is that the transplants tended to sit and sulk and send out new growth from the base. The weather was warm so maybe they are better direct sown like regular cucumbers.
The cucamelon vine is quite light and easy to train up a support system. I used a post at each side of the bed with 1/2″ plastic netting as high as 4′ attached from post to post. Next year I will use 6′ high posts and add a center post for support. This vine is now growing up a sunflower so it can easily get to 8′ high. The weight of the vine is now placing some pressure on the netting but its holding fine. A center post would help this next year. The plant produces tiny yellow flowers followed by its fruit. It’s easy to pick but wait until they are the size of a grape. Smaller fruits are a bit sour to taste but edible.
This is one days harvest. We tend to eat them in salads or straight from the bowl or garden. I have pickled them as well. As a friend said, they look like someone used a shrink ray gun on a watermelon. I had someone else say that if I was trying to grow watermelons, I wasn’t very successful. These are definitely the hottest plant on the garden scene right now so I promise I will be growing them next year. Its said the plant is perennial and will come back next year so I will mulch my plants to see if they return.
You can be sure I am saving seeds from the cucamelons. I have hundreds of seeds so far and that means I will have plants ready in the spring. Like tomatoes, their seeds are best fermented to remove the gelatinous coating around them. Although they are a member of the cucumber family their plants do not cross with regular cucumber plants. That means the seeds I collect will produce the same plant next year. Have you grown cucamelons this year? If so I would love to hear your thoughts.