Cucamelon is a vigorous climbing plant producing grape-sized mini- cucumbers with a hint of watermelon and lime. A real curiosity. You can grow it exactly like cucumbers and needs a protected environment such as a polytunnel or greenhouse. It’s more of a novel or curiosity crop than a productive vegetable.
Cucamelons make a wonderful addition to any salad or even as a snack.
Late April until mid June.
Sow individual seeds into small pots (7cm) or large modules and keep in a warm place. Pot on into a 10cm pot when ready. Plant into greenhouse or polytunnel.
Between rows: 1m
Between plants in the row: 50cm
Approx. seed count: 5sds
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Soil and site
Cucamelons love warmth, high humidity and very high soil fertility. Just imagine a plant that grows to well over 2m tall and produces dozens of large fruits. It really needs to be well fed. I usually incorporate plenty of very well rotted compost or manure into the beds about a month before planting. Always plant them in full light with no shading from neighbouring plants.
As cucamelons are heat loving and quick growing plants I delay sowing until mid April and make a second sowing in late May. I sow seeds individually into small pots (7cm) and place the pots into a propagator (21ºC) or on a warm windowsill. The seeds germinate quickly within five days. About two to three weeks after sowing the plants are ready to be potted on into a bigger (12cm) pot using a more fertile potting compost. The plants should remain in a warm place until planting.
When the plants are well rooted in the 12cm pots before they get pot-bound they can be planted into their final growing position in the greenhouse or polytunnel. I train the plants up strings that are attached to an overhead wire so when I plant them I first dig a big enough planting hole and then lay the bottom part of the string into the hole with the end sticking up, then take the cucumber plant out of the pot and place it over the string and gently firm them in leaving no air pockets around the roots. It is advisable not to plant them too deep or even to let the top of the compost stick out a bit. This reduces the risk of stem rot.
Plants should be spaced 60cm apart in the row and only a single row should be planted per bed.
Just remember, cucamelons need a tropical environment so regular misting with warm water especially during the day is highly beneficial. On a weekly basis you should gently wind the main stem of the plant around the upright string and remove a lot of side shoots. Alternatively you can leave a few side-shoots to grow and nip the shoots after about 20cm.
There are few things that are more impressive than the yield of cucamelons. Every day each plant produces a few new fruits during the high season. Use a sharp knife or secateurs to cut them off.
How much to grow?
In theory one plant is more than sufficient, but I always grow at least two in case I have a casualty.
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