Have you ever heard of cucamelons?
This very real and cute fruit is grape-sized, and very much a mix of cucumber and watermelon. Also known as Mexican sour gherkin and ‘sandiita’, cucamelons are very beneficial to our health and have been used as a nutritional food in Latin and Central America.
Cucamelons and Their Health Benefits
Tiny and adorable, cucamelons are actually far more beneficial to our health than we assume. Rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, cucamelons make a perfect addition to your diet. Some of its main benefits focus on:
- Encouraging weight loss, due to its low-calorie count
- Preventing strokes
- Keeping the body tissues and organs healthy
- Delaying the aging process
- Protecting the cardiovascular health
- Keeping the body safe from cancer development
Melons alone are high in lycopene. This carotenoid, along with beta-carotene, is large and in charge of protecting the heart and its health. Also rich in potassium, vitamin C and potassium, cucamelons are great for lowering high cholesterol levels and encouraging the work of other body organs.
Rarely found on the market, you can now grow cucamelons at home, thus ensuring the quality and benefits of the fruit itself.
Growing Cucamelons at Home: An 11-Step Guide!
If you are keen on growing cucamelons at home, here are 11 tips to help you out.
As a hybrid, cucamelons seeds are rare to find, so you will have to purchase them online. When purchasing the seeds, make sure they are labeled organic and free of pesticides. If you already have a cucamelon at home, you can extract the seeds from the ripe fruit, and place them in a jar of water for a week. After a week had passed, rinse the seeds and dry off well with a paper towel. Store in a paper envelope and set somewhere cool.
Cucamelons are seasonal and need from 65-75 days to grow fully. In addition, cucamelons need warm weather and a soil temperature between 75F and 85F. In case you live in a colder area, grow the pots inside the house and place them in a warm and bright spot.
Growing Cucamelons at Home
If you are planning on growing cucamelons, it is best you root them indoors first. The best time to do this is between April and May, much like you’d do with cucumbers. Instead of planting the seeds in the garden, plant them in a pot and keep it indoors, safe from cooler temperatures. If you have a greenhouse, you can plant the seeds in a pot, half an inch into the soil. With that, make sure the greenhouse’s temperature remains around 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Late bloomers by nature, cucamelons require your patience and need more room to germinate properly.
Aside from the fast-draining soil and sun exposure, cucamelons will also need space distance of 12-square-inches between each pot. The fruit also requires up to 6 hours of direct sunlight, which is why it is important you choose the ideal sunny location in the house.
A Wire Cage
Cucamelon is a vining plant, meaning it can grow up to 10 feet. Therefore, you will need to use a small trellis or a wire cage (as with tomatoes), to keep the stem and roots of the fruit steady.
Cucamelons depend on nutrition-rich soil, which is also easily drained. The best soil to use should be made of compost or manure, thus guaranteeing fruit nutrition during the entire season. Another thing you can do is add a tablespoon of 6-10-10 analysis fertilizer into each planted fruit. Together with this, you can also add tiny lava rocks to encourage better soil drainage. Once done, your fruit will require plenty of sun and a 3-inch side compost dressing every month, a practice to start two months since planting your cucamelon.
Cucamelons don’t require loads of water but do need a steady and ongoing moisture supply. An inch of water every 5-7 days, and especially during the summer, will guarantee a proper development and growth of the fruit. Therefore, you should wet the first 6 to 15 inches of soil regularly.
If you live in a colder place, it is best you use a 3 to 4-inch layer of lightweight mulch to surround the fruit.
Pests and re-seeding
Cucamelons are very tough fruits and can endure unforeseen conditions. Luckily, this also makes them resistant to both pests and diseases risks.
Another great thing about cucamelons is that these reseed on their own, which will help enrich your garden with these remarkable plants.
As the cucamelon vines continue to grow, you can wrap the vines together, so you avoid damage and tangling of the tendrils. Very adaptable to changes, the cucamelon vines will soon pick up the pace and shape as you arrange them.
Following their blossoming, cucamelons will soon show their fruits, too. Harvesting the fruit should be done as soon as it is grown to its full capacity or the size of a grape. You don’t have to harvest all fruits at once, as they tend to grow differently.
You can pick the cucamelons right off the tree, but be careful not to tear the plant. The cucamelon harvesting season begins in July and ends in mid-November.
Cucamelons don’t need the lavishing pruning, but you can do it either way and especially if the season comes to a close. If you notice dying leaves on the plant, trim them accordingly.
Cucamelons make a great fruit to use in both sweet and savory recipes. Great in salads, main courses and salsas, cucamelons will have you loving them on the first bite!