Cucamelon, known scientifically as Melothria scabra, is basically a vine grown for its fruit that is suitable for adding to meals. Cucamelons is a member of the cucumber family called Cucurbitaceae and is native to Mexico and Central America called sandiita (little watermelon). America is thought to be a domesticated crop before the Western colonization began.
Popular locally known names include creeping cucumber, Cucamelon, Guadeloupe cucumber, Mexican miniature watermelon, Mexican sour cucumber, Mexican sour pickle, Mouse melon, and Pepquinos. The name of the fruit suggests that these fruits are a cross between melon and cucumber, but only a miniature version. Besides being among the members of cucumbers and different genera, their growth characteristics, requirements and potential pests are different.
Description of Cucamelon Plant
Cucamelon is a tropical herbaceous perennial climbing vine that can grow up to 2.5-3 m in height under favorable conditions. The plant prefers plenty of direct sunlight to grow well. It grows in sandy, loamy, clay soils and prefers rich, well-drained soils. They are resistant to drought and pests compared to other cucumbers. Just like other cucumbers, these plants are single plants and produce both male and female flowers on the same plant. These plants can self-pollinate, but individual flowers cannot be self-pollinated.
The flowers are small, only yellow, with five petals about four millimeters in diameter. This plant is not the other way around as with cucumbers, but is unusual among cucumbers as female flowers appear before the male flowers. Flowering normally takes place from May to June. The fruitful flowers are followed by small, rectangular melons the size of grapes with a green, glabrous surface with white stripes. The fruits are about 3 cm long and 2 cm wide (1.25 inches long and 0.8 inches wide) and have a large number of seeds. While the fruit can be eaten raw or cooked, the peel and seeds can also be eaten. Fruits are an ideal choice for pickling and salsa making.
Traditional Uses and Benefits of Cucamelon
• Some people claim that this fruit is good for the heart, protects against aging, lowers the risk of stroke and has anti-cancer properties.
• Cucamelon prevents the aging process by helping the revitalization of cells, tissues and different organs.
• This fruit helps to improve heart function and also prevent the development of cancer.
• The fruit has a beneficial antioxidant that helps support the functioning of the heart.
• Cucamelons is also rich in potassium and vitamin C, which can lower high cholesterol levels in the body and increase the functioning of body organs.
• Cucamelon peel is a good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation.
• It provides some protection against colon cancer by removing toxic compounds in the intestines.
• It is a very good source of potassium; Helps reduce blood pressure and heart rate by counteracting the effects of sodium.
• The antioxidants present in the fruit help the body prevent or at least prolong the natural changes of aging by protecting and rejuvenating cells, tissues and organs.
• Cucamelons has the power to lower bad cholesterol levels.
• Cucamelons has also been proven to be good for the eyes and every internal part of the body.
Kitchen Uses of Cucamelon
• Cucamelons can be eaten alone, pickled, used in salsa or even put into a drink for added flavor.
• Cucamelons can also be used as a substitute for pickled candies.
• Young, soft fruit is best for eating raw, while older fruits with ripe seeds are better for pickling.
• These fruits are also a great way to decorate a variety of luxury drinks and beverages at a party.
• Adding a few to a glass of water can provide flavored water, such as adding cucumber or lemon juice.
• A great, healthy alternative to sugary teas, juices or carbonated drinks to add water and enjoy a refreshing drink at any time of the year.
• Just like grapes, it can be eaten in bags or bowls.
• Whole cucamelon (fresh, blanched or pickled) can be mixed with a bowl of olives and served with drinks.
• It can be used to decorate plates with toothpicks.
• Can be served with salty crackers and chips.
• Can be used as a very tasty flavor in a simple ham sandwich or alongside a cheese.
• Perfect for stir-frying, they can be chopped and added to salsas for extra texture and flavor.
• This fruit can be fried in garlic and olive oil and served as a garnish.
Steps To Grow Cucamelons
Finding the Seeds
Since pumpkin seeds are a hybrid fruit, they are really rare. However, it is possible to purchase them online. If it is decided to buy seeds, make sure they are organic and pesticide-free. If seeds are to be planted from fruits that are eaten at home, they should be placed in a jar of water for a week when the seeds ripen. Then the seeds should be rinsed and dried with a towel and then stored in an envelope in a cool place.
Cucamelon needs 65-75 days to grow well. They also need warm weather and soil with temperatures between 75F and 85F. If planted in a colder area, Cucamelons should be grown in a large pot inside the house in a bright and warm place.
To grow the fruit of this cucurbit family, it is necessary to root it at home between April and May. The seeds should be planted in a pot and kept at home to protect them from colder temperatures. If you have a greenhouse, make sure the greenhouse temperature is around 72F while you can plant them in a pot and half an inch of soil.
Cucamelons need 12 square inches of space between each pot to be planted. Choosing the right sunny spot for this fruit is important because it needs up to 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.
Because Cucamelon is a vine plant, it can grow up to 10 feet, so a wireframe or small cage must be used to keep the stem and roots of the fruit stable.
Since the fruits are bound to nutrient-rich soil, the perfect soil to use for cucurbits will be compost or fertilizer. At the same time, this soil is very efficient in feeding the plant while it takes the nutrients from the soil. In addition, it can add 6-10-10 analysis fertilizers one by one to the planted fruits. Also, small lava stones can be added to encourage improved soil drainage. This plant will also need a 3-inch side compost wrap each month, which is a dud to start two months after planting the first cucamelon.
This fruit needs a constant supply of moisture. They need an inch of water every 5-7 days, especially in summer. This is a condition that guarantees the growth and development of the fruit. Therefore, the first 6-15 inches of the soil will need to be watered frequently. For those who live in cold regions, a light 3-4 inch layer of mulch can be used to limit fruit.
Pests and Reseeding
Cucamelons are very hardy fruits and can be exposed to unexpected conditions. This makes them resistant to pests and diseases as well. In addition, this fruit has the opportunity to reproduce gradually by reseeding itself.
It may be necessary to wrap the vines together as they grow to prevent twisting and damage to the branches. Vines grow rapidly and it is necessary to constantly shape them because this arrangement can be done best when they are very flexible.
After flowering, cucamelon begins to bear its fruits. When the fruit reaches the size of a grape, it is ready to be harvested. Since the fruits grow differently, it is not necessary to collect them all at once. While collecting the fruit, care should be taken not to break the plant. The season for the Cucamelon harvest starts in July and ends in mid-November.
Cucamelons do not require pruning, but can be done either way when the season is over, especially if dying leaves are seen.