These little cuties are super easy to grow, delicious and packed with nutrition. Here’s why you need them in your garden:
Cucamelons are adorable little cucumbers, that look like tiny watermelons and taste like they’ve been squeezed with a twist of lime.
They are not genetically modified or hybrids. They are native to Central America and have been a staple of the Mexican diet for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
They’re also known as Mexican sour gherkins, sandiitas (little watermelons), and “mouse melons” in many Native American languages.
Unfortunately, you won’t find them in the grocery store, or probably even in farmers’ markets.
Fortunately, they’re really easy to grow and will thrive in a good chunk of the United States, as long as you have a warm, sunny spot that stays above 50 degrees. If not, they do great indoors or in a greenhouse.
Cucamelons taste great in salsas, salads, fruit salads, or can be popped into your mouth whole, right off the vine, like cherry tomatoes.
The skins are soft and edible and the insides are juicy, sour and refreshing.
Check our Better Homes and Homes for some delectable summer recipes.
On top of being delicious, cucamelons are extremely nutritious.
Loaded with lycopene, beta carotene and antioxidants, these babies are powerhouses for helping to prevent cancer and heart disease.
Rich in vitamins and minerals, and low in calories, some say they’re on their way to becoming the next trendy superfood.
How to Grow Cucamelons
1. Start indoors. Start cucamelons in pots indoors in April or May. They can be transplanted into the ground after the danger of frost has passed.
They require a long growing season with at least 65 to 75 consecutive days of warm, frost-free weather and soil temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit to bear fruit.
If you live in a colder climate, you can keep them in pots and move them indoors when temperatures drop below 50 degrees.
One seed per pot or 6 inches apart in the ground so they have at least 12 square inches of space per plant.
2. Full sun. Choose a location that gets the most sunlight possible. They need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day to stay healthy.
3. Soil. Cucamelons need nutrient-rich, fast draining soil. Work compost or aged manure into the topsoil and organic fertilizer before planting.
Add compost around the plant every month.
Lava rocks or perlite can help improve soil drainage.
4. Water. Cucamelons need an inch of water every five to seven days during the summer months, wetting the top 6 to 15 inches of soil every time. When the weather is very hot and dry, increase to twice a week and add mulch.
5. Training the vines. Give the vines a little hand by guiding them around a trellis or bamboo poles to give them support and keep the fruit off the ground.
6. Pest and disease resistant. Cucamelons are not only tolerant to drought and extreme weather (other than cold), they’re virtually ignored by all pests and resistant to disease too. Even the birds won’t mess with them!
7. Harvest. Harvest the fruit when they have reached the size of a plump grape, about one to one and half inches in length. They should be nice and firm. Pick the first few fruits early to force more, larger fruit production.