The mouse melon is a curious food plant to grow in the vegetable garden because it doesn't quite know what it is... a melon or a cucumber, and certainly passes as both.
Personally, I prefer them pickled rather than eaten fresh; but regardless, the fruit from this very productive vine is best eaten when young because if left to mature fully they can become chewy and the skin tastes more like regular watermelon rind which can overpower the whole taste experience.
To be specific about taste I do think it's more like a cucumber than a melon with a slight hint of lemon after taste. The small olive sized mini fruits are quite pleasant eaten raw when wondering around the garden and the vine produces plenty to use in salads, cooking, or to preserve pickled.
What's great about the plant is how hardy it is and how it will thrive during summer and winter here in our subtropical climate whereas other cucumbers are difficult to grow.
Growing the vine on a trellis is the best way to allow for easy harvest of fruit and ensuring the fruit doesn't spoil from touching the ground etc. Growing up where possible is always a good way to grow edible crops so being a vine and having such small fruits growing mouse melons on a structure makes sense.
The leaves on this vine are cucumber shaped but only 1/3 of the size, and the plant itself whilst a good grower, doesn't threaten to take over the garden like other rogue melon crops (eg the West Indian cucumber) can do. As far as typical size goes, it will climb a trellis to about 4 or 5 feet and expand out to a similar width however it's easy enough to restrict the plant to less if needed.
Growing preparation such as soil or fertiliser is hardly needed as the mouse melon vine seems to grow well even in poor soil but it will grow better if given some love.
Pest & Disease
As far as diseases or pests go, I haven't seen either on this particular plant to cause any concerns and it will grow for several months before dying off slowing naturally after cropping.
Overall, the Mouse Melon is not a bad crop to grow in the garden - it's not fantastic - but it's worth growing a plant or two especially during those times where other cucurbits are harder to grow. I would call it a gap filler rather than an important food plant for my vegetable patch and yes that's a little harsh although the truth is I'd rather a crisp regular cucumber any day.
Not saying the Cucamelon isn't worth growing though... So, give it a go and see for yourself!
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