Horned Melon - SeedCucumis metuliferus
Make your salad and desserts even tastier!
The exotic Kiwano fruit (Cucumis metuliferus) has tart sweet flesh tasting somewhat like a mix of lemon and banana. The green, slightly gelatinous flesh can be used in fruit salads and desserts for a tasty accent. Delicious! They are very healthy too - full of vitamins A, B and C as well as essential minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Rich in antioxidants - always a plus!Show more
Show moreThe seeds of horned melon/cucumber require no prior treatment. You could however steep the large seeds in lukewarm water for 12 hours - this encourages germination. Horned melon plants have male and female flowers. To encourage pollination it is advisable to plant and grow 2 or 3 at the same time. (Bumble) Bees will do the rest.
How to SowHorned melon/cucumber is just like the cucumber in that it is a real heat lover. Sow indoors or in a greenhouse from mid-April. You can also use a mini greenhouse, using some fairly large turf pots filled with good potting compost, or just in a simple potting tray. A combination of seedlings, plugs and a mini greenhouse makes it very easy. Best is, if you can somehow heat your mini greenhouse from below. The seeds will germinate, no problem, if you can guarantee a temperature of at least 20 °C (day and night). Do not allow the seedlings to dry out! Plant one seed per pot - poke it into the compost to a max. 0.5 cm deep with the end of a pencil and cover with potting compost. Stand your mini greenhouse in a good spot on the windowsill. The seeds will germinate within the week, depending on the temperature. A few days after germination, alter the humidity in the greenhouse by opening the lid. Once the seedlings reach a height of 10 cm they must become acclimatised to the normal air hmidity. To do this remove the mini greenhouse lid for one hour on day one, then 2 hours on day 2 etc. After five days, they will be used to normal humidity and they can be potted up to larger pots. This will be necessary sooner than you think as the horned melon is a fast grower! Allow the young plants to enjoy 20 °C for as long as possible to encourage good growth.
Show moreHorned melons have a creeping habit. If any fruits end up growing directly on the ground they are liable to rot so have some straw or black plastic handy to lie under the plants. Black plastic is also handy for warming up the soil, allowing the plant to grow quicker. A plank also helps to keep the fruit from touching soil. It is preferable to lead the shoots upwards as with gherkins. Use large holed chicken wire on a sturdy frame for this. This will help keep the fruit off the ground entirely. Horned melons/cucumbers grow fast and give good results from a fertiliser like Bakker's fertiliser for flowering plants, or Bakker's Tomato Fertiliser. They really need it too! Give extra water in periods of drought. Keep the bed weed free – pull them out instead of using a hoe, to prevent root damage to your horned melons. This will help them grow well.
HarvestingSimply cut the fruit loose with a sharp knife to harvest. Edible when really ripe. As a decorative piece, harvest when still unripe (still hard) and they will last much longer.
Show moreHorned melons will easily last for 2 weeks in the fridge or in a cellar – assuming you wish to eat them. They are also exceptionally decorative in a dish. Horned melons taste tart, with a texture similar to a cucumber but with a faint taste of lemon to them. As well as sugars, they are full of Vitamins A, B and C and also contain calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosforus and the antioxidants Caroteen and Lycopeen.
How to useA horned melon is very refreshing and can be eaten at any time of day once ripe. You can also dry them for decorative purposes. Very highly appreciated in this regard! Even slices on a plate show the fruit to great advantage. Their bright orange outer edge contrasts nicely with the green insides.