Posted by Wayne Robinson

Cucamelon are Central American fruit that are not a hybrid of melons but part of the curcubitaceae family i.e cucumbers, and for the past few years are the new (almost novelty) vegetable that has come to gardeners attention.

Cucamelon have a vine growing habit and in native country can be an invasive plant. Vines are spindly and fruits, unlike the name given, do not taste of melon, and as best described as crisp cucumber with a hint of lime.

How, Where & When

These small seeds of cucamelon can be given a head start by sowing in seed trays placed in heated propagators, after germination takes place 10 to 14 days later, thinned out into 9cm pots. Or sown late April under cover in 9cm pots with 7 to 10 days germination. Planting begins outdoors when all signs of frost has past or in greenhouse with trellis support provided. Plants will benefit from a growing base of rich moisture retentive soil.

Distance

Spacing of 30-40cm between plants for both indoor and out door growing situations. This will ensure productive plants, provided plant support is also in place.

Regular Care

Once plant reaches a height of 2mtrs, pinch off growing tip to encourage side shoots, pinching those out when 40-50cm in length. Water regularly and start plants on a high potash liquid feed on the onset of flowers. Protect plants from slug attack.

Harvest

Cucamelon fruit should be harvested when fruit is firm and reaches the size of a grape. Regular picking will encourage new flowers and fruit.

Cooking

Cucamelons can be eaten in the same way as a standard cucumber, sliced, chopped or left whole and added to a salad. Cucamelons can be added to salsas, served as a nibble amongst a dish of olives or simply just enjoyed straight from the vine. And don’t forget to add them to your favourite cocktail, especially good in a G&T!