Garden Word of the Day
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Cucamelons may look like tiny watermelons, but they taste more like sour cucumbers.
Also known as Mexican sour gherkin cucumbers, mouse melons, and pepquinos, cucamelons (Melothria scabra) are cucurbits, which make them cousin to squash, melons, and gourds.
The cucamelon plant
Cucamelons grow on vines that climb nearby supports using tendrils. These plants produce both male and female flowers, making them monoecious. This means the plants can pollinate themselves, but the individual flowers are not self-pollinating. Native to Central America and Mexico, cucamelons need warm to hot temperatures to get started. Once established, your cucamelon plants will continue to produce fruit well into November.
How to grow cucamelons
Seeds should be planted 1 inch deep and 6 to 10 inches apart. Cucamelons are more drought tolerant and more rugged than other cucumbers, but they are slow growers, at first. Since cucumbers perform best in rich soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5, your cucamelons will probably benefit from moderate acidification, and top dressing the planting area with aged compost is always a good idea.
The actual flavor is more akin to a tangy cucumber crossed with a fava bean. If you expect watermelon, you probably won’t like it. If, instead, you can bite into these grape-sized fruits with an open mind, you may end up with a new garden favorite!
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