How to Grow Cucamelons in Melbourne 14


How to Grow Cucamelons in Melbourne, Mouse Melon, Mexican Sour Gherkin.

Cucamelons are great in salads or picked straight from the vine and eaten.

Cucamelons are becoming an increasingly popular edible plant in Melbourne. More and more people are asking me how to grow them, and from where to source the seed. Last summer, I grew cucamelons for the first time, they were amazing. Here’s our guide on how to grow them, it’s pretty easy!

What are Cucamelons?

How to Grow Cucamelons in Melbourne, Mouse Melon, Mexican Sour Gherkin.

Cucamelons look like grape-sized watermelons and taste like cucumbers with a hint of lime.

They look like grape-sized watermelons and taste like cucumbers with a hint of lime. They’re native to Mexico and Central America. They also go by the following names: mouse melon, Mexican sour gherkin, Mexican miniature watermelon and Mexican sour cucumber. They are very drought tolerant and easy to grow.

Where can I get some seed?

Several seed companies can supply you with seed:

Greenharvest

Diggers

Fair Dinkum Seeds

4Seasons Seeds

Some Bunnings stores stock them these days!

How to grow Cucamelons in Melbourne

How to Grow Cucamelons in Melbourne, Mouse Melon, Mexican Sour Gherkin.

Cucamelons are very easy to grow

Cucamelons require similar growing conditions to regular cucumbers.

Choose a sunny position, with well-drained soil and provide them with a trellis for support.

Seed can either be directly sown into the soil (in late October or early November), or started early in pots in a greenhouse (from August to October). Last year I started them early in pots and they handled the transplant into soil very well.

Sow seeds about 5mm deep and space the plants about 30 to 60cm apart. It’s a good idea to sow seeds in groups of 3 to 4 and later thin to the two strongest seedlings.

They are drought tolerant plants, but they will produce more fruit if you keep them well watered.

To harvest, simply pick the fruit when they get to the size of a grape and eat.

Cucamelons are known to self-seed, so be aware that you may end up having cucamelons for years to come with very little effort. Personally, I see that as a good thing!

Lifting and Storing the Cucamelon Root Ball and Tuber

How to grow cucamelons in Melbourne

In winter you can lift the tubers of the cucamelon plants to replant next spring.

The cucamelon vines lose their leaves in winter, and you can lift the root ball and store in a cool dark place over winter to replant in spring. I’m trying this for the first time this year. When I dug them up, I was amazed at the size of the tubers that the plants had developed about a foot below the surface of the soil. I’ll replant the tubers in spring as apparently the plants will crop more prolifically and much earlier than in the first season of growth.

 

Have you grown cucamelons before? What did you think of their flavour? Do you have any tips on growing them for our readers?

 


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14 thoughts on “How to Grow Cucamelons in Melbourne

  • Jan Lansdowne

    Hi Duncan,
    I tried these last summer but the harvest was so small compared to the space they took up I won’t bother again.
    Cheers
    Jan (Brunswick East)

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Jan,
      Thanks for your comment. I also found that they were less productive than regular cucumbers. However, I thought that it was because I grew them in a semi-shaded position. I’m growing some in full sun this year to see if it makes a difference to the yield.
      Regards

      Duncan

  • Heather

    I’m growing these for the first time this year here in Tassie, around 6 plants, with seeds from Diggers. They took awhile to come up, but are now fruiting prolifically along (and up) my front fence, in full sun. Heaps of vines from each plant. Just waiting for them to fatten up for eating.

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Heather, ours are also covered in fruit, but none are ready for eating yet. We can’t wait to eat them again this summer!

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Sheree,

      They could be fully formed (our plants definitely shed fruit once they are ripe). Otherwise, it could be a lack of water or other stress.

      Good Luck and Happy Gardening!

      Duncan

  • Tiffany

    After a pitiful 3 cucamelons from seeds sow in a self watering pot last year, this year we re-planted the largest root ball (overwintered in slightly moist compost), into a corner of one of our apple crate wicking beds – it took off within 2 months and we’ve been eating about a cup full a day since late December. Will definitely be saving the root again this year. We love them!

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Tiffany. That’s great news. I’ve noticed that when planted from seed they are very slow to take off, then the plants go beserk over Jan and around the start of Feb they start to produce fruit. Sounds like lifting the root ball is definitely the way to go for bigger (and much earlier crops). Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  • Neville Bowden

    Hello. Very interesting info about the saving of the root-ball, thanks.

    I have several plants in a greenhouse – in Launceston – but cannot get any fruit to set. Admittedly bees are scarce in there, but I have also tried the paintbrush on a few specific flowers with no luck.

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Neville,

      My cucamelon rootballs failed to regenerate this year, so I’m not sure how effective this is. Perhaps I stored them incorrectly over winter. I’ve noticed that the fruit doesn’t usually set until later in the season. Our plants have been flowering for over a month and have not yet set fruit. I don’t normally start picking them until mid-February. Once they do start setting fruit, they set masses of them!

      Hopefully yours start setting fruit soon. Please keep us updated on progress.

      Good Luck and Happy Gardening!

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Theresa, I’m not sure about timing of sowing but I would suspect any time of year would be fine up there. They’d probably grow as a perennial in Brisbane.

      Good Luck and Happy Gardening!

      Duncan

    • jim Rarity

      October first and mine have germinated to the first true leaves
      seeds went in 25 august
      Wollongong , south of Sydney
      so now will be fine

      • cowgurl99

        Planted some seeds inside in seed raising mix about 20th September, they are 3cm high now. I got the seeds from Bunnings. Might wait until they are at least a couple of true leaves until I plant outside. – Sydney. I think heat and moisture are the key.