Cucamelons are the most well-liked crop in our vegetable backyard with the lengthy, slender vines yielding a whole lot of grape-sized fruits that resemble tiny watermelons. Therefore, their different identify, ‘mouse melons’, or as they’re higher recognized, Mexican Bitter Gherkins. Most gardeners begin their cucamelon vegetation from seed sown indoors in mid-spring, however the vegetation additionally produce tubers that may be lifted and saved over the winter. Rising cucamelons from tubers offers you a head begin on the spring rising season, and leads to an earlier and bigger harvest.
Cucumelons are native to Mexico and Central America and are open-pollinated, so it can save you the seeds from 12 months to 12 months. However, as talked about above, you may also save the tubers in late autumn by digging and storing them as you’d a dahlia. The fleshy tubers develop four to six inches lengthy, are white to beige in coloration, and every plant can yield a number of good-sized tubers.
Gardeners in zones 7 and up, can deep mulch their vegetation in autumn with a foot deep layer of shredded leaves or straw to overwinter them. In my chilly local weather backyard, the place the frost goes deep into the soil, cucamelons don’t overwinter and I have to develop them from seed every spring or save the tubers.
Associated Submit: Rising Cucumbers Vertically
Digging Cucamelon Tubers:
Digging cucamelon tubers is simple. As soon as the vegetation have been hit by frost just a few instances, it’s time to dig them up. The fibrous root ball might be within the high foot of soil, however the tubers can lengthen a bit deeper. Don’t attempt to harvest the tubers by pulling the vegetation out. In my expertise, this has resulted in broken or damaged tubers, which is not going to overwinter.
As an alternative, place a backyard fork or shovel a few foot away from the principle stem and dig, gently lifting to show any tubers. Don’t see any? Dig deeper or use your hand to maneuver the soil out of the outlet to find the tubers. Deal with just-harvested tubers rigorously to keep away from bruising or harm. There’s additionally no want to clean them off because the tubers might be saved in soil.
When you’ve gathered all of the tubers, it’s time to retailer them. I exploit a 15 inch diameter plastic pot and a high-quality, pre-moistened potting soil. Add about three inches of soil to the underside of the pot, and place just a few tubers on the soil floor. Area them in order that they don’t contact. Add one other layer of soil and extra tubers, persevering with to layer till you haven’t any extra tubers left. Make sure you positive to cowl the final layer with just a few inches of soil. Retailer the pot in a cool, frost-free spot for winter; an unheated basement, a modestly heated storage, or a root cellar.
Small-space and container gardeners who develop cucamelons in pots also can overwinter their vegetation. Simply snip off the useless foliage and retailer the pot in a cool, frost-free space for winter. Come spring, the tubers may be faraway from the pot and replanted in contemporary containers.
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Planting Cucamelon Tubers:
It’s time to re-plant the tubers in early April, or about eight weeks earlier than the final anticipated spring frost. Collect your provides; eight to 10 inch diameter containers and high-quality potting soil. Fill every pot about two-thirds full with the pre-moistened soil. Place a tuber on the floor of the potting soil, and canopy with one other inch of the soil. Water nicely and transfer the pots to a sunny window or place them underneath grow-lights. Proceed to water when needed and fertilize with a balanced liquid natural meals each few weeks.
As soon as the chance of frost has handed, harden off the vegetation and transplant them into the backyard or in bigger containers for deck rising. Cucamelons admire a sunny, sheltered web site with compost-enriched soil.
Do you overwinter your cucamelon tubers?