Cucamelons are something that numerous people have never even heard of. It has many different names. In Spanish it is called “sandiita” which is the word for little watermelon. Many people know it as “Mexican sour gherkin”.
It’s a very small fruit. It resembles a grape and looks like a small watermelon. Its taste is a combination of lime and cucumbers, so it means it’s sour. It usually grows on a thin vine. The leaves resemble the ones of an ivy. People claim this is a strange fruit, but it isn’t modified genetically. It is a real fruit which comes from Central America. People in Mexican diets use it as “a must”. Its first use dates from pre-Columbian times.
Even though this is a very small fruit, its nutritional value is amazing. Some nutritionists even claim it’s a kind of superfood which is going to become a trend. It contains an abundance of fiber, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins as well as a very small amount of calories. It is proven to be helpful against cancer, stroke, heart problems, aging etc. It has the ability to rejuvenate our organs and their tissues.
These melons are high in a carotenoid under the name of lycopene, especially beneficial for the heart, but also beta-carotene that is a well-known anti-aging ingredient with antioxidant properties. It also contains potassium and vitamin C that will decrease your levels of bad cholesterol, but also phytonutrients that are great for our eye health.
Grow Cucamelons In Your Own Garden!
This is a great suggestion! It can be very hard to find this fruit on the market, but you can easily grow it in your own garden! You’ll always have its supplies and you can try it in various recipes.
It’s a plant that can be grown easily. It doesn’t have to be covered like for example, greenhouse, you don’t have to care about its pruning and pests don’t attack it. It is resistant to drought. It can be grown in any climate because it’s a relative to the cucumber!
Here, We’re Offering You 11 Steps That Will Help You Grow The Perfect Cucamelons
- Buy the seeds
The best option would be to order them online. You can find them on Amazon. They aren’t expensive. Try to discover seeds of a greater quality and organic. Don’t plant them all at once! Save some, just in case. The fruits which have ripened will fall on the ground. Collect them and keep them in a cool place. Let them rest for about 2 weeks.
Then, you can slice them and scoop out the seeds from the inside. Fill a jar with water and put the seeds in it. They should stay like that for 7 days. Rinse them afterwards and put them on a paper towel where it’s colder so that they can dry. When you’re sure they’re dry, put them in a paper envelope.
They are perennial plants, like tomatoes are. It would be the best to be grown in a season that has from 65 to 75 warm days without any frost. The temperature of the soil has to be between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
In case the area where you live is cooler, grow the seeds in pots. Keep them indoors throughout the night or if the temperature becomes below 50 degrees.
- Start them indoors
This is the best option. Start them in April or May which are the months when we also start the seedlings of any cucumber. As soon as you notice there is no frost and it has become warmer, transplant them in your garden. You can also try planting one seed in one pot in a depth of half an inch. Keep them at 72 degrees Fahrenheit in a greenhouse.
They need time to germinate, so they’ll grow slowly. They need from 3 to 4 weeks to start offering small green shoots.
- Planting location
The soil has to have the ability to drain fast. It has to be exposed to a lot of sun. Every plant needs to have about 12-square-inches of space. If you want productive plants that will be healthy at the same time, you need 6 hours of direct exposure to sunlight every day.
- Support the plant with a trellis or a wire cage
We have already mentioned that it’s vining, so it can go up to 10 feet, but it would be the best for them to have some support like an installation of a trellis or a cage for tomatoes. They’ll resemble an ivy as soon as they grow.
- The proper soil
The soil needs to be good and full of nutrients. Use aged manure or compost so that you can keep it during the whole season. Take porous or lean soil and apply a 2-inch layer of compost on it. The soil has to be between 6 and 8 inches. Then, put 1 tablespoon of 6-10-10 analysis fertilizer inside every single hole. You can also add some perlite as well as some small porous lava rocks so that the soil can have good drainage.
You don’t need to feed them more. Just make sure you apply at least a very light 3-inch side-dressing of compost every month. Start doing this 2 months after you’ve planted the seeds.
Add 1 inch of water on 5-7 days when it’s the summer period. Try to wet from 6 to 15 inches of soil. As soon as it becomes dry and hot, start watering the plant two times a week. If you live where it’s cooler and you often have fog appearing, keep an eye to the plant.
You should water it as soon as it becomes dry on top. If you live where it’s warmer, make sure you have about 3-4 inch layer of lightweight mulch around every plant, but not on the base of the stems. In this way, there won’t be any weeds and you’ll regulate the loss of moisture.
It may sound strange, but pests ignore cucamelons! They also don’t catch diseases. Birds don’t attack them. You can relax yourself from these problems when you have this plant around you.
They are similar to arugula when it comes to reseeding, so they do in on their own. They’re excellent as a part of your food forest or permaculture garden.
- What to do with the growing vines
You know how vines can go in any direction, so you can do something about this: wrap them very gently through the whole trellis in any direction you want to.
When you notice the first flowers, the first fruits will appear. They should be plump in size when you harvest them. They should be firm and be like a grape. Their length should be from 1 to 1.5 inches. Stimulate more fruits to appear by picking the first fruits at an earlier stage.
When a cucamelon reaches pollination, you need to let 2 or 3 weeks to pass for it to be harvestable. Try to pick the fruit off, but make sure you don’t rip the plant. You can assist yourself with some small scissors. You’ll notice the plant growing if you’ve done the harvesting well. The crops should be ripe from July to the middle of November.
Still, don’t disappoint yourself if your plant doesn’t grow large during year 1. If you are new to this and grow them from seed, don’t expect a very large plant in the first year. If you’ve grown a plant from a tuber, it will be higher. Just make sure you don’t disturb them during the period of fall. If they’re underground, leave them to wait for the period of spring when it’s warm for them.
No special pruning is necessary. You just have to trim any leaves which are dying because they might not be getting enough sunlight.
Consumption of Cucamelons
Use them anywhere you want to! They’re versatile. Add them into salads, salsas, stir-fries, etc. Sprinkle them with some dry herbs and consume them raw. Combine them with some olive oil, peppers and olives. Pickle them like you would do to cucumbers! Enjoy this interesting fruit and its amazing taste!