Tuesday 16 August 2016


Last year there was a big craze in the UK for growing Cucamelons (aka Mouse Melons or Mexican gherkins) and the reports I read about them were very mixed. Some people raved about them and said they were fantastic. Others said they were tasteless and overrated. This Spring I was fortunate enough to receive some free seeds from Marshalls, which prompted me to have a go myself and find out at first hand what they are like.

My Cucamelons (2 of them) were sown on 19th April, in 5-inch pots of seed compost. Initially I kept them indoors, but as the weather improved I gradually acclimatised them to living outside, and they were planted-out on 7th June.

People had warned me that Cucamelon plants are initially very small, and they weren't kidding! They are a lot smaller than a Cucumber, even one of the Lebanese type.

Cucamelon at 3 weeks old

My Cucamelons are both growing in a big plastic tub, and they were supposed to be sharing it with three Cucumber plants, but unfortunately two of them died.  I provided some 7-foot canes for them all to climb up, and as the plants have got bigger I have tied them loosely to the canes with soft string. I have fed them a couple of times with "Tomorite" tomato-food, as I usually do with Cucumbers.

Everyone says that Cucamelons start slowly but finish strongly, and that's exactly what has been happening. For the last couple of weeks I have been eagerly looking out for any fruit forming. The flowers are tiny and you have to look very carefully.

Last weekend I finally spotted the first fruit. It was about the size of my little fingernail:

Once I started looking, I realised that there was not just one fruit, but several already. For instance there are two in this next photo:

I expect that very soon there will be dozens of them. They really do look like miniature water-melons!

I wasn't sure how I would know when the fruits were ready to pick, so I asked my contacts on Twitter. All the answers I got were based on size: the size of a grape; the size of a large olive, etc. I therefore conclude that mine a nearly ready, but perhaps not quite. So now they key question. What do they taste like?

We had an inaugural tasting of the first two fruit...

Our opinion: they taste very much like a normal cucumber, but perhaps slightly sour. The skins were also rather tough. Now the taste and texture of these two may of course be unrepresentative. Were they perhaps still not completely mature? It could well be that later ones are different, so for the time being I am unconvinced.

Fortunately the one surviving Cucumber ("Passandra") has suddenly decided to have a growth spurt and has produced four little fruits simultaneously.

Cucumber "Passandra"


  1. This is my 3rd year growing them. I like them a little smaller. The skin is not as tough and the flavor is a little less puckery(?)
    I think they taste like a cucumber with a hint of lemon.

  2. Planted ours in march or April and the one that survived us still like your 3 week photo!

  3. I found the same thing about peoples reviews on mouse melons - initially I heard rather unimpressive things about them, but in the past year, several bloggers tried them and indicated that they were in fact quite good. I'll have to give them a try myself at some point as that is really the best way to know if my taste buds will appreciate them.

  4. From my experience these uncommon things tend to be uncommon for a reason. I tried asparagus pea this year. Taste and texture like cardboard. People rave about those as well :)

    Everything becomes the latest supercool until you find out its no better than anything else and everything is going to be the next thing everyone will be doing until its clear it hasn't caught on.

    Call me a cynic but for a while I'm done with trying all these new things and am back to the standards that have lasted the test of time.

  5. I grew them for the first time this year also and I'm enjoying them. I like the crunch of them in my mixed salads. I do prefer them cut in half lengthwise, somehow cutting them in half minimizes the toughness of the skins. And I like that bit of sourness.

  6. I really liked them so they are on my definite list for next year.

  7. I haven't grown them myself yet, Mark, but as it happens one of my colleagues at work brought some in yesterday, so I have been able to try one! As you say, the skin is a little tough (but I didn't find it too tough). The first taste, for me, was very sour. But I kept going and then got pleasant flavours of watermelon and cucumber (which is saying something for me, because I'm not a big fan of watermelon!). I think my partner would like them, so they're still on my 'To Grow' list :)


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