What is a cucamelon?
Cute, crunchy cucamelons (Melothria scabra) are the most popular vegetable in my garden. Everyone loves the grape-sized fruits that look like tiny watermelons but taste like cucumbers with a twist of lime. Also called Mexican sour gherkins, cucamelons are a warm-season crop and thrive in the summer sunshine.
When to plant cucamelons
Cucamelons can be grown from seeds or seedlings. In zones 4 to 6 start seeds indoors 4 to 5 weeks before the last expected spring frost. In warmer regions, direct seed after the last frost date. Transplant seedlings to the garden once the weather is reliably warm, about a week or two after the last frost.
Where to plant cucamelons
Boost success by planting cucamelons where they will receive at least 8 hours of sun each day. Before planting, I amend the soil with compost or aged manure and a handful of a slow-release organic fertilizer. No garden? No problem! You can also grow cucamelons in pots. Select containers at least 16 inches across to accommodate the vigorous plants.
Because cucamelons form long vines, it’s best to give them strong support. I use trellises and tunnels, but you could also grow them up fences, garden netting, or twine. Growing the plants vertically also makes it easier to harvest the small fruits.
When to harvest cucamelons
You can expect fruit about 75 days after transplanting seedlings in your garden. By late July my cucamelon plants are smothered in tiny yellow flowers. 7 to 10 days later the first fruits are ready to pick. Harvest cucamelons when they’re 3/4 to 1 inch long, picking often to encourage heavy cropping. The plants continue to pump out fruits until frost and toward the end of the season I let a few mature so I can collect and save seeds for the following year.