Growing and Saving the Seed Of Jelly Melon
Latin name Cucumis metuliferus is an annual member of the cucurbit, or cucumber, family. Jelly melon is an exotic, peculiar looking fruit from the central and southern regions of Africa. Growing a jelly melon plant, also called kiwano melon, is much like caring for cucumbers. These long vines grow beautifully up a trellis and their foliage is quite lush, making a quick covering. The spiny orange fruit is unique looking and has a lightly citrusy flavor. Jelly melon will grow in most U.S gardens, and while they do take quite a bit longer than cucumbers to set fruit, they are very prolific once they do.
Native to arid and semi-arid regions in central and southern Africa. A fascinating specialty fruit that is becoming more popular in the U.S.
- With its fruity flavor described as a mix of passionfruit, lime, and banana, kiwano is great for juicing, snacking, salads and desserts.
- Direct sow in a full sun area once all danger of frost has passed.
- Alternatively, start indoors and transplant into the garden when temperatures are consistently above 65 F.
- Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep.
- Seeds will germinate in 14-21 days.
- Space plants 18 inches apart.
- Keep kiwano melon well mulched during the heat of summer.
- Try growing this unique fruit on trellis or fencing to showcase its stunning visual appeal!
- Provide full sun and rich soil, well amended with compost.
- Water regularly.
- Pickle worms can be a pest (this is the caterpillar stage of a moth that lays eggs at night).
- To prevent pickleworm, cover your jelly melon vines in a floating row cover at night to prevent the moth from laying eggs.
- Be sure to remove the row cover during the day to allow insects to pollinate the flower so you can get fruit.
- Bacillus thuringiensis is also an option for treating pickleworm.
- Jelly melon is cross incompatible with other cucumis species, which means there is no need to isolate the plants to prevent cross pollination (unless you are growing 2 different varieties of Cucumis metuliferus).
- Jelly melon is an annual, so it will set fruit and produce seed in the first season.
- The plants rely upon insects to pollinate their flowers.
- Allow fruit to mature to a deep orange and become quite soft, then scoop out the seeds and ferment to remove pulp just as you would a tomato.
- Air dry seeds for a few days, out of direct sunlight.
- Just a few fruit will produce lots of healthy seeds.
- Store seeds in a cool, dark, dry place.