Tiny and delicious, have you considered growing your own cucamelon seeds? These unique fruits taste just like cucumbers but resemble tiny watermelons, earning them the nickname mouse melons. They are a great vining addition to any spring garden, but how can you best take care of cucamelons, and what can you expect out of growing them?
If you live in hardiness zone 7 or above, you can directly sow cucamelon seeds in your soil once any danger of spring frosts has passed. In colder regions, start cucamelon seeds indoors under grow lights and in potting soil. Make sure to start your seeds 2 months before your final spring frost but no sooner, as cucamelons quickly grow out of control indoors!
Here’s everything you need to know about growing cucamelons from seed, from start to finish.
|Cucamelon Seeds||How to Grow|
|Hardiness Zones||2 through 11|
|Annual or Perennial?||Annual, but can be overwintered|
|Germinating Cucamelon Seeds||Start indoors 2 months before your final spring frost, or sow directly in warmer regions|
|Time of Year to Plant Seedlings||Once all frost risks have passed, typically mid-spring|
|Things to Note||Cucamelons develop tubers that can be easily overwintered or stored until springtime and replanted!|
Cucamelon Seeds: Everything You Need to Know
Cucamelons are fairly easy to grow in the average garden and they are typically heavy producers. There aren’t any different varieties or cultivars of cucamelons, but the standard mouse melon should suit the average household just fine! They taste like cucumbers, with a slightly bitter and lemony tang to them.
Cucamelon seeds resemble sesame seeds. They aren’t too tiny to handle easily, which makes spacing out your seeds a breeze! If you are in a warm enough region to direct-sow your seeds, cucamelons should be spaced a foot apart in front of a support structure, giving them plenty of room to vine or trellis.
In addition to cucamelons growing quickly, you can keep them contained in a container with a trellis, or simply let them vine along a fence. But how do you start cucamelons indoors? Let’s talk about that now.
Germinating and Growing Cucamelons from Seed
Compared to other plants, cucamelons need a decent amount of time to germinate and grow. Here’s how to start your cucamelon seeds indoors, before planting them in your garden:
- Start your seeds inside, 2 months or less before your final spring frost date. Cucamelon seeds need a decent amount of time to germinate but, once sprouted, they easily take over indoors. Don’t start them too soon, but definitely give them at least 5 weeks for warmer temperatures to develop properly.
- Plant your seeds in moistened potting soil, and sow them less than half an inch deep. Now would be a good time to space your seeds evenly so that you don’t have to thin your plants and risk losing any viable options in the process. By planting your seeds in individual containers or in a large flat, you can maximize your growing potential!
- Cover with a plastic dome to promote humidity, and let your seeds germinate. By growing them under a grow light and keeping the soil consistently moist, your cucamelon seeds will be happy and likely develop after a couple of weeks! Make sure your seeds are kept at 60 degrees Fahrenheit or above, as cucamelons are sensitive to cold weather.
- Once your final spring frost date has passed, harden off your seedlings outdoors. This is a process that allows your new plants to acclimate to outdoor conditions, and it involves you moving your seedlings outside and inside depending on the time of day. After 3-5 days of moving your cucamelons outside, you are likely safe to plant them in the garden.
- Keep your cucamelons happy with a trellis or climbing structure. You can always grow cucamelons along the ground but they might spread where you don’t want them to and it’s easier to see these tiny melons as they grow if they’re grown vertically!
Harvesting Cucamelon Seeds
While the process is slightly more involved compared to other plants, you can harvest cucamelon seeds from your fruits to plant next spring. Here’s how to do it:
- Save 5-10 cucamelon fruits and cut them in half. You will easily see the seeds within these cucamelons, and they are relatively easy to squeeze out from the fruit itself. You can also use a small spoon or scooping device to remove the seeds.
- Squeeze your seeds into a jar and cover the seeds with an inch of water. Cucamelon seeds are covered in a gelatinous coating, similar to tomatoes or other cucumber varieties. You need to ferment the seeds in order to remove this coating, as it prevents the seeds from germinating.
- Leave your seeds in water in their jar for up to a week. Keep an eye on your seeds during this process, as you will need to attend to them once you see mold forming within the jar. This is a normal part of the process, and the mold is the gelatinous coating coming off of your seeds.
- Rinse your seeds multiple times. This allows you to fully clean them and ensure that no mold remains. You may need to soak them one more time, depending on how they feel. If you touch the seeds and they still feel slimy, give them another soak and a few more days to ferment.
- Once clean, leave your seeds to dry and store them for next spring. Make sure that your seeds are not wet before storing them, as you don’t want mold forming again!
Can I Overwinter My Cucamelon Plant?
Did you know that cucamelons form large tubers that can also be over winter to end replanted in the spring if you aren’t interested in harvesting seeds from your cucamelon fruits? Here’s how to save the tubers instead:
- Gently and carefully dig up your tubers after your first winter frost. These tubers should only be located a foot or two beneath the soil of your existing cucamelon plants. Make sure to avoid damaging the tubers with your shovel or digging tool.
- Store your tubers in a container of potting soil, and keep this container in a slightly warmer location compared to outside. You can store multiple tubers in the same container of potting soil, so long as you don’t let the tubers touch one another. Simply layer them with dirt and keep your container of cucamelon tubers safe in a garage or basement until spring comes!
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