I DECIDED to give growing Cucamelons (Melothria scabra) a go, mainly because I’m not that partial to cucumbers, although others in the family are, and their easiness seemed like a good halfway house.
It’s a vine with fruit the size of grapes, which taste like cucumbers with a tinge of sourness/lime, but look like a miniature melon.
It’s also called the mouse melon, Mexican sour gherkin, cucamelon, Mexican miniature watermelon and Mexican sour cucumber.
You’ll have guessed it’s an old domesticated crop native to Mexico and Central America, where it is called sandita (little watermelon).
It wasn’t until Suttons and James Wong’s Homegrown Revolution started selling them that they came into the public eye - they’re different and very easy to grow.
I sowed mine in April and was concerned about the initial lack of growth, but apparently they take a while to establish, then take off big style, reaching up to 10ft in the right conditions.
If you can’t be bothered with the faff of cucumbers, cucamelons are drought and pest-resistant. They produce male and female flowers on the same plant, but can pollinate themselves, with fruits developing at the base of the female flower.
Although the packet says they don’t need the cover of a greenhouse, I’ve grown mine in the shelter of the lean-to greenhouse, away from the winds and cool,grey days that are a feature of this summer.
They can be planted close together and mine are doing well in the usual unconventional pots - a Funky Laundry shopping bag (three in there) and two in the Ikea kids’ blue toy boxes (with holes skewered in).
For more information and recipes, including pickling, go to http://homegrown-revolution.co.uk/savoury-fruit/growing-cucamelons/