It looks like a watermelon, but with the taste of sour cucumber – it’s all about mouse watermelon. A mini-cucumber from the pumpkin family can be settled both at home and in the garden. Let’s figure out what properties it has and whether it is worth growing it.
Mouse watermelon, or rough melotria, is a perennial herbaceous vine of the genus melotria. Its peculiarity is in cute colors – the fruits look like miniature watermelons. To taste, they are more like a cucumber – tasters of “watermelon” call it the closest association.
They didn’t come up with any names for an unusual plant: this is “hummingbird cucumber”, and “Mexican gherkin”, and “African cucumber”, and “mouse melon”. Outwardly, the plant looks like a liana and curls beautifully – you can even just decorate the verandas with it. From small flowers, with proper care, cucumbers grow, rough to the touch.
The plant winds beautifully, so you can grow it exclusively for decorative purposes.
Liana comes from Central America, she was brought to Russia in 1987. This plant was first described in France in the 19th century. Melothria bears fruit for only one season, loves heat, light and water, and is not adapted to frost. So we can grow it all year round either at home or in the southern regions.
Melothria fruits are recommended to be harvested unripe, on the second or third day. After they become soft. You can eat them raw as a snack, add to salads and salt. The bright colors of the “mini-watermelon” allow them to decorate meat and fish dishes and side dishes.
In addition to fruits, this plant also has edible tubers. This part of the mouse watermelon is more like a radish. Tubers do not have as much starch as potatoes or sweet potatoes, and they are not suitable for long-term storage. They should be eaten in the same way as fruits: raw or pickled. Tubers begin to dig out in September-October, when the fruits have already descended.
Melotria grows from seedlings. The plant is unpretentious and rarely affected by pests, so it will most likely be easy to grow. Mouse watermelon is planted 1-2 seeds in a separate pot. Seedlings appear after 4-6 days, and after 20 days the seedlings are ready for transplanting.
This is how the flower looks like, from which mini-cucumbers with watermelon color will appear later
Melotria loves humidity, but bright light is not so important for her – she grows successfully even in the shade.
To make a mini watermelon feel good, you need:
- water it often, but without stagnation of liquid
- periodically loosen the soil
- apply fertilizers – especially well suited based on nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium
- make supports so that the plant curls beautifully
- monitor the appearance of pests and treat in time with a soapy solution if they appear
- remove weeds
- make sure there are no drafts
The first fruits can be obtained as early as three weeks after planting. During the season, the plant can grow more than three meters, deftly clinging to the support with its antennae.
Before planting melotria, make sure that other plants from the gourd family have not grown in this place for several seasons earlier. Onions, garlic, potatoes, cauliflower, or parsley work well as precursors.