CURCURBITACEAE, The Gourd family
For the first time I am finally growing these cute little curcurbits that my friend Hannah introduced to me in Minneapolis years ago. They are also called Mexican sour gherkins and indeed are a very miniature cucumber relative. The stripes make them look just like a tiny watermelon.
I grew 4 seedlings in the greenhouse and planted them out in May to take over a trellis when the sugar pod peas finished. I have been pruning away the peas slowly and the mouse melons, while they started off very slowly and were endangered by slugs, are now (in August) covering the trellis, reaching for anything else they can grab on to, and producing a pint of fruit a week. The fruits are best when they are just an inch long or even less.
The fruits are slightly tart and crunchy and we have just been eating them raw as a snack and on salads, but it would be fun to pickle some.
They don’t cross pollinate with other curcurbits (being a whole different genus than other garden cucumbers and squash) so they come true from saved seed. To save seed, let a few fruits grow till they are wide and start to yellow. Pick them before the frost and scoop out the seeds. Rinse the pulp off the seeds and dry them on a paper towel.
We did try pickling these and they wrinkled up – rather ugly. Maybe there is a pickling technique to keep them crisp?
I’ve observed that mouse melons, despite the teensy flowers, are pollinated by honeybees.