Cucamelons have got to be one of the oldest and oddest crops I’ve ever had on the allotment. Known in their native Mexico as Sandiitas de Raton which translates as mouse melon they’ve been cultivated since before Christopher Columbus set sail.
Their flavour is hard to describe, it is a cross between a cucumber a lime and sherbet. Each one is a perfect bite size. They are in the cucumber family, although they are no cucumbers, however they do share one similar trait….that is their desire to take over your greenhouse. They can get up to three metres high if given the chance! Thankfully the plants are self fertile so you only need one as long as you have a friendly insect population to move the pollen around.
Cucamelons are not frost tolerant so in the UK need to be started about four weeks before the last frost which will be in late April to early May. Plant about 1/2 cm deep in root trainers or 3 inch pots and preferably place in a heated propagator or in a warm sunny spot. Lightly cover with sieved compost or vermiculite. Once germinated move to a bright frost free location. Keep lightly watered. They can be planted out in early June or slightly earlier in a greenhouse. They need a well drained, sheltered spot. You must provide support in the form of trellis or canes. Tie in initially but after they will climb with tendrils. Cucamelons are fairly drought resistant and need far less water that their cucumber cousin. Watering once a week in a greenhouse or during dry spells outside should be sufficient. You will start to get little cucamelons in late July/August and they will carry on until the first frosts. Pick often to encourage continued flower. The vines can be trimmed if they are getting a bit rampant. At the end of the growing season you can cut the foliage down and lift the tuber underneath. Store in some lightly dampened compost in a cool frost free location until spring. Pot on in late April or as soon as shoots appear and keep in a frost free bright location until ready to plant out.
In the kitchen
These are really for serving raw, either whole or sliced. They would make a fun addition to a G&T or pimms and you can pickle them too, just like gerkins.
Yield and plant health
As long as you germinate in a heated place and keep lightly moist but not damp these should romp away with world domination definitely on the agenda. You will get about 5-10 large grape sized fruit every week. Plants are extremely healthy and do not seem to be prone to slugs or snails.