How to Grow Cucamelons in Melbourne 40


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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40 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

      • Steve Connors

        Hi There,

        My cucamelon plant was also slow going to start with but is now a fully fledged vine bountiful with small fruit, but as per one of the previous comments some of mine too are falling off. Fruit has been present for a month now but none grow larger than the size of a large rice puff, either remaining this size or dropping off the plant.

        Any suggestions? Plant looks very healthy in general and is in a full sun position. Do the flowers need to be self pollinated?

        • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

          Hi Steve,

          This commonly occurs early in the season. It’s possibly poor pollination, or drought stress. It should have rectified itself in time.

  • 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!

    • Andrew

      We grew a few from seed this summer in full sun but as of March 13th, haven’t seen a single fruit. Was just about to give up on them

  • 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.

  • Jon Buttery

    Hi Duncan – I’m curious – what’s the advantage of removing and storing the tubers? Why can’t you just leave them in the ground to resprout? Sorry if this is a dumb question.
    Cheers Jon

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Jon,

      In heavier soils the tuber will rot. In sandier soils you may be able to leave them in situ over the winter.

      Good Luck & Happy Gardening!

      Duncan

  • Maria

    I’m intrigued by cucamelons who can resist something called ‘mouse melon’ I’m all st to give them a go. My soil is dreadful coastal depleted sand so I’m not sure but I’ll try. Maybe the garden gods will smile at the sheer delight of the name. 🥒🐀

      • Sheena

        I have just purchased a packet of Johnson’s “World Kitchen” cucamelon seeds from Bunnings and will plant some during next spring and summer. I’m hoping for success as they sound delicious. Thank you for the info on your website, I was unaware that they develop a tuber.

  • Helen Bayes

    I just dug up my Cucamelon plant which has been growing in the shade in a raised bed for several years. It has been fruiting quite well in summer – a few fruit for our lunch salad each day. I have lifted it until this year and the tuber is amazing!!! It is 10cm long and it takes my finger and thumb to go round the fattest part. It is quite lot of stringy roots, some knobbly, and a tiny tuber developing on one. I’ll put some new potting soil in the same spot and replant it in spring. I’d post a photo if I could!

      • Bayes Helen

        I replanted the root ball a couple of weeks ago. It was round, had stringy roots attached and about the size of my hand, scrunched up. No sign of growth yet, but it’s in a shady sheltered spot, and will get some sun when it climbs up the frame. I’m crossing fingers for it.

  • Rasmus Gjerulff-Hansen

    I have been told that the tubers are edible, and have also tried them, have you got any knowledge regarding this you can share..?

  • Glenda Smith

    I am growing for the first time. Met a Rep. in Bunnings, he assured me they were worth growing. First lot of seeds didn’t seem to do any good, so tried another area in full sun & they are doing well, now flowering & I can see tiny little melons coming. Reading about lifting the root ball out & storing in a cool dark place over winter sounds like a lot of work & I am not sure I have a suitable storage place. Can I just leave them in the ground over winter, maybe cover with wood chip, or somethong other, then when spring comes, see them emerge from their hiding place? Reading the comments below it seems lifting roots & storing over winter is the better way. I am on the mid-north coast of NSW. Old farming land, dozed for building so no soil, I have purchased many bags of soil for vege garden beds. The original one is now growing well, so maybe I will lift that one out of the ground in winter.

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Glenda,

      They can stay in the soil as long as you have excellent drainage. If the drainage is poor then the root ball will rot.

      Good Luck & Happy Gardening!

  • Maeve

    Do you know how well cucamelons do inside under a growlight? In an apartment with very little sun and experimenting with growing an indoor vegetable garden.

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Maeve, I don’t have any experience with using growlights. So can’t give you any advice there.

      Good Luck & Happy (indoor) Gardening!

  • Glenda M Smith

    This is my first year growing them & I am picking fruit now, not a lot, but I cut them & add to salad. When in my local Bunnings one day, there was a Rep putting seed on the shelf. I looked at the seeds, saw Cucamelon & asked him about them. He apparently had grown them & recommended so I decided to give it a try. The first ones I planted didn’t seem to be very exciting. I got some more seeds & planted in a different place. They were very slow to grow & slow to then develop. I now have a lovely looking vine & am picking fruit & there seems to be still quite a bit fruiting. We are now in Autumn so am wondering how long it will fruit & what my next step will be.

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Glenda,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us. The cucuamelons tend to produce much later into autumn than cucumbers do. They may still produce well into May in Melbourne. Once they die back you can always lift the root ball to replant next spring. Although I usually just plant from seed each year as there doesn’t seem to be any benefit form replanting the root balls.

      Good Luck & Happy Gardening!

      Duncan

  • Glenda Smith

    My daughter who is a Naturopath & a really TOP gardener, has suggested, when the plant dies down, to cover with bird netting which will protect it until spring. I have had quite a lot of cute little Cucamelons which I slice & add to salad veges, I think they are worth growing & do have some good food value.

  • Patricia

    Thank you all for sharing your experiences with growing cucamelons. I will be attempting to grow them for the first time this year and was wondering if they are something birds like to attack? Will they need netting? In our area the birds are relentless.