I love watermelon, and only recently did I discover that I really enjoy cucumbers too. Let's just say a part of me was still a kid refusing to eat them. But now I've discovered the cucamelon fruit and I feel like my life has truly changed. These little melons are often used in pickling or as a garnish alongside cilantro.
Cucamelon? Yep, a tiny watermelon and cucumber hybrid exists!
"Native to Mexico and Central America, it's also known as a Mexican sour gherkin, pepquino, sandita, or a mouse melon. Cucamelons (melothria scabra) grow to be about the size of a grape and they look like tiny, baby watermelons," according to Huffington Post. We have to agree with them. These are the cutest little fruits. I'm kind of sad I just now discovered them so late in the summertime.
Part of the gourds family (cousins to cucurbitaceae), the grape-sized Mexican sour cucumber fruit is often found at farmers markets, but you can also grow cucamelons in your backyard. Cucamelon plants do well in full sun and the cucamelon seeds can be planted next to a variety of veggies. Like any veggie or fruit, you'll want to keep your frost date in mind and try to plant after the last frost. Be careful with transplanting and try to avoid mildew in your mulch and tubers by keeping the soil at the right moisture level.
"Cucamelons are quite a bit more drought tolerant. The vines are delicate looking, with thin stems and small leaves, but don't be fooled! This is a plant that can hold its own in the garden. People with limited growing space can plant them in large pots on a deck or patio; just be sure to provide something for the vigorous vines to climb," Savvy Gardening advises.
These tiny, heirloom watermelons will look adorable in your vegetable garden, and ..."are open-pollinated, and produce both male flowers and female flowers on the same plant, so you can save the seed from any ripe fruits that fall to the ground. Warm-climate gardeners will find that a few cucamelons left behind will self-seed quite easily...I usually leave the mini tunnel in place for 2 to 3 weeks, depending on how quickly summer arrives, then replace it with a trellis."
It's a great first time planting or pollination project, with spring being the best time to get these cuties into a raised bed. As summer goes by, you'll see these growers (pollinators) starting to show into longer cucamelon vines.
These little watermelons, or Mexican miniature watermelons as some like to call them, do have sourness to them. But that also makes them the perfect snack.
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