How to Grow Cucamelons (Mouse Melons)

Updated on January 30, 2020
OldRoses profile image

Caren White is a Master Gardener and instructor at Home Gardeners School. She has been associated with Rutgers Gardens for over a decade.

Source

This fall when I was at a regular Master Gardener meeting, a basket was being passed around. In it were what looked like tiny watermelons. I asked what they were and was told that they were mouse melons, easy to grow and delicious.

What are Cucamelons?

Cucamelons (Melothria scabra) are fruit bearing vines that are native to Central America. They were domesticated by the native peoples there long before the arrival of Europeans. The vines are members of the cucurbit family which includes cucumbers, melons and squash.

Cucamelon vines grow to about 10 feet long. You will need to provide something for them to climb on or they will sprawl all over your garden. A trellis works fine because the fruit is not heavy. You can grow them in a container as long as you provide the vines with something to climb.

The leaves look like cucumber leaves but are much smaller. The flowers are tiny like the fruit and yellow. The fruit develops at the base of the female flowers.

The fruit develops at the base of the female flowers.
The fruit develops at the base of the female flowers. | Source

It’s the fruit that will catch your eye. They are tiny, only about 1 inch long and look like the world’s tiniest watermelons, hence the name Mouse Melon. They taste like cucumbers with citrus notes. They are usually eaten raw in a salad or even by themselves as a quick snack. They can also be pickled resulting in yet another nickname, Mexican sour gherkins.

How to Grow Cucamelons

Cucamelons are grown like cucumbers. You will want to wait until the soil and the air has warmed before planting your vines. In my zone 6 NJ garden, I wait until the last weekend in May before planting my cucurbits. While you are waiting, you can prepare your garden by working in compost. Like all cucurbits, cucamelons are heavy feeders which means that they require more nutrients, specifically nitrogen than most vegetables and will quickly exhaust the nutrients in your soil. You will need to fertilize regularly during the growing season to keep up with their needs. They will also need full sun and soil that has a pH of 6 to 7.

Plant 1 to 2 vines in hills that are 1 to 2 feet around and 2 to 4 feet apart. If you are growing in a container, the rule of thumb is one vine per 24 inch container. Don’t forget to install a trellis or something for your vines to climb. Cucamelons are monoecious, meaning the vines have both male and female flowers on them. They are self-pollinating so if you don’t have a lot of space, you can grow just one vine and still have fruit.

Once your vines are planted and watered in, add a thick layer of mulch to keep the soil moist between waterings and to keep down weeds which will compete with your vines for nutrients.

The fruit can be eaten raw or pickled.
The fruit can be eaten raw or pickled. | Source

How to Grow Cucamelons From Seed

Cucamelons have a long growing season so if you are not buying plants and prefer to grow from seed, you will need to start your seed indoors 4 weeks before your last frost date. Plant them in biodegradable pots such peat pots. They do not like having their roots disturbed so they are difficult to transplant. The advantage of using biodegradable pots is that you can plant the whole pot in your garden and it will break down, enriching your soil. Sow your seeds ½ inches deep and then prepare to be very patient. They could take 3 to 4 weeks to germinate.

You can transplant your seedlings into your garden once the soil and air has warmed. You can plant them in hills that are 1 to 2 feet around and 2 to 4 feet apart. Or you can plant them in containers, one vine per 24 inch container.

Cucamelons can be grown on a trellis because the fruit is small and light.
Cucamelons can be grown on a trellis because the fruit is small and light. | Source

How to Harvest Cucamelons

Cucamelons are easy to harvest. There is no guesswork involved. When the fruit is 1” in length, you can harvest it. Use your pruners or a sharp knife and cut the fruit off of the vines rather than pull them off which can damage the vines. You’ll be happy to discover that the more you harvest, the more fruit that will be produced. Your vines will continue to produce fruit right up until they are killed by frost in the fall.

Questions & Answers

    © 2020 Caren White

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)