(Benincasa hispida); aka Winter Gourd, White Gourd; Minimum 20 seeds
Not a sweet melon in the sense of fresh eating, the Winter melon is a wonderful staple soup ingredient that became comfort food for us when we lived in China. I was excited to discover the availability of seeds to grow here in Michigan and quite pleased with our harvest this year. Winter melon was a plant it and forget it crop with vines that sprawled vigorously, even climbing the nearby sorghum. I especially appreciated I did not have to hand-pollinate the flowers to ensure seed purity as the variety was the only one I grew in its botanical group. Winter melon fruits average 15-20 pounds and are distinctive with a protective white waxy layer that develops on the rind to enhance its winter storage. Another pantry staple, well worth the space in your garden, especially if you use it as a ground cover between tall crops.