Cucamelons are a super cute addition to your garden that are also easy to grow. They are the perfect plant to grow with children, who adore their tiny fruits resembling miniature watermelons – hence their nickname “mouse melons”.
Here’s everything you need to know about growing Cucamelons from seed.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
In order to make the most of the gardening season, Cucamelons can be started 5 weeks before the last frost date. This means that in cooler climates (like zone 4), you may want to start them indoors. You could also try both starting inside and outside to test which method works best for your climate.
*Soil temp 16+ degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit).
CUCAMELONS LIKE IT WARM
Cucamelons are like cucumbers and like a warmer soil for germination so be sure to start your seeds in an area that is warmer (not a cold corner of the basement).
Using grow lights helps keep the soil warm enough to germinate the seeds. A heat mat is also helpful.
Being heat lovers, Cucamelons do not tolerate frost, so be sure to wait until after the last frost, and be prepared to cover them if a surprise frost comes along, especially at the end of the season.
Your Cucamelons should last well into the fall if you protect them from frost on cold fall nights.
PLANTING CUCAMELON SEEDS
To plant Cucamelon seeds indoors, you will need:
- Cucamelon seeds
- Seed starting containers, cell packs or compostable peat pots
- A good seed starting soil mix
- A container for bottom watering
- Grow light
Steps to grow Cucamelon seeds:
- Prepare your starting container or trays. Peat pots or soil blocks are preferred (ensure they have drainage holes).
- Fill containers with soil
- Place watering tray underneath
- Moisten the soil by watering from beneath, in the tray (damp but not soaked)
- Poke holes ¼” deep (one per cell or 1 – 2 per pot)
- Insert seeds (one per hole)
- Lightly cover hole with soil
- Cover the pots or trays with a dome or saran wrap to keep the soil moist (until the seed germinates)
- If you have a heat mat, you can use it, otherwise your grow light should provide adequate heat. If using a heat mat, you do not need to place under grow light until your seeds have germinated.
- Keep soil moist and wait 7 - 10 days for germination
- Once seeds germinate, remove the dome and place under the lights.
- As your seedlings grow, you may need to add a tiny support, such as a stick for the vine to crawl up.
- After your last frost date, harden off your seedlings by placing them outside for small amounts of time, increasing the time each day, for about 5 – 7 days. Avoid direct full sun initially and do not leave them out over night if there is a chance of frost.
Ensure you have a good spot for your Cucamelons that gets full sun and is not too windy. You will also need a trellis of some kind to offer support. If you are area is extremely hot, you may wish to try a spot with afternoon shade.
Prepare the soil by watering and add some compost for a nice boost. Carefully transplant the seedlings without disturbing the roots too much, spacing as per the seed packet (usually 2 feet apart). If you use a peat pot, you can put the whole pot into the soil.
Cucamelons like good drainage because they develop tubers, which do not appreciate getting soggy. Add a little sand to the soil if you are concerned about drainage.
PLANTING CUCAMELON SEEDS OUTSIDE
If you are planting your seeds directly outside, wait until about 2 weeks before last frost date, and the soil is warm enough (16+ degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit).
Follow the package instructions for the recommended spacing and depth. Typically they are planted ¼ deep and 2 feet apart. It’s important not to crowd them as they will need good circulation to prevent disease, such as powdery mildew.
INTERPLANTING YOUR CUCAMELONS
Cucamelons can also be planted next to tomatoes. The tomato plant and cage would act as a trellis for the Cucamelons.
SAVE YOUR CUCAMELON TUBERS!
Before the first frost date, carefully dig up your Cucamelon tubers to store for the winter. Do not try to pull the plants out of the ground. Instead use a shovel to dig up the whole plant.
Clean off the tubers, trimming away the plant and store them like you would a Dahlia. You can store them in slightly moist potting soil, inside a pot, making sure none of the tubers are touching. Store in a dark, cool, frost free spot.
The tubers can be replanted in the spring, starting them indoors and then transplanting them outside after the last frost date.
Where To Buy Cucamelon Seeds
There are a variety of seed companies that sell Cucamelons, but if you are looking for an affordable online seed seller that ships from Canada, please check out our selection of Cucamelon seeds here.