(Melothria scabra) aka Cucamelon, Mexican Sour Gherkin, Sandita (Little Watermelon); Minimum 30 seeds
We grow these cuties because they make fabulous pickles. Delicate vines become adorned with a profusion of sweet little yellow flowers that are followed by Lilliputian sized fruits that bear a striking resemblance to watermelons. While it is difficult to resist eating a Mouse Melon or two straight from the vine, what does manage to make it to the kitchen adds a zesty sweetness to salads or salsas. As said, we love them pickled. Despite their diminutive appearance, Mouse Melon vines are quite rampant and benefit from a strong trellis. Though we haven't grown them this way, reportedly Mouse Melons are quite showy when grown in a hanging basket.
We grow Mouse Melon as we do cucumbers and while it is possible to direct seed, we found it beneficial to start seeds inside and transplant the seedlings when we transplant tomatoes and peppers. Since they are the only members of their botanical group that I grow, I let them pollinate freely.
I realise that Mouse Melons are not technically a staple crop, they are valuable and nutritious storage fruits in pickled form and that is why they are a consistent feature in our garden.