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Cucamelon

Height:

1.5 m

Spread:

50 cm

Foliage:

Palmate, green

Bloom:

Yellow, July to September

Fruit:

Greyish-green with dark green stripes, edible, July to September

Exposure:

Full sun

Soil:

Rich, light and cool

Hardiness:

Annual


Cucamelon (Melothria scabra)

Halfway between melons and cucumbers, cucamelons are cute little fruit produced on a climbing plant that grows to 1.5 m or more. This plant is native to Mexico and Central America, where it has been known since the days of the Aztecs, and is very easy to grow. It produces small greyish-green fruit with dark green stripes that look like tiny melons (hence its other common name of mouse melon) all summer long. Cucamelons taste like cucumbers with a hint of tartness and, like cucumbers, can be eaten raw as an appetizer or in salads, or pickled like gherkins. Combine whole raw or marinated cucamelons in a bowl with black olives to serve with drinks, or spear them on a toothpick for a martini!

Cucamelons can be grown just like cucumbers, in full sun, in cool soil with plenty of organic matter. Unlike cucumbers, however, cucamelons require little attention because they rarely suffer insect or disease damage. Just add some compost at planting time and water them regularly, and they will keep on producing! Cucamelons can be allowed to spread directly on the ground, but do even better if trained up an obelisk or trellis. They can also be grown as trailing plants in a hanging basket or on a green wall.