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Old July 15, 2019   #1
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Laurinburg, North Carolina, zone 7
Posts: 3,162
Default cukamelon or west India burr gherkin?

Anybody grow either of these? Which do you prefer? How long do they take? Will they tolerate starting in the hot ,humid heat of North Carolina? We seem to be having an extra wet, humid summer.
Also, are there any true cucumber varieties that can handle this time of summer or should I just plant Armenian cucumbers for our main salad and pickling cucumber for now since I’m getting such a late start? I know they will handle the heat as I grew them during the summer in AZ, although usually in part-shade. They are actually a melon, too so more equipped to summer climate here I assume.
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Old July 15, 2019   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: ohio
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are the cukamelon the tiny ones that look like watermelons? I have grown those and they are a novelty. it takes like 50 of them to lake make quart basket. these are very time consuming to pick. if you have nothing else to do they are a great way to pass the time picking them. 10x worse than picking cherry tomatoes as they are green and hard to see.
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Old July 15, 2019   #3
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Wisconsin
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I've grown both. The "cucamelons" are easy to grow & cute, but they are also sour, which limits their uses. Once they begin to turn dull in color (at about 1" long) they are full of seed, and worthless IMO. Picked very small - while still bright green - they were good in salads. My attempts to pickle them were horrible, gelatinous failures. Hundreds fell on the ground unpicked, and after a couple years, I stopped growing them. If you choose to grow them, I would recommend only a couple plants.

The West India gherkins are almost completely non-bitter, and very crunchy. They need to be picked young, before the soft spines harden. The vines are ground-hugging, like small watermelon vines... but only about 6' across here (maybe larger in longer season areas). An SSE member sent me a cultivar that is more domesticated than the generic WI gherkin, with fewer spines, and slower to develop seed... picked about 2" long, those made outstanding pickles.

Both "cucamelons" and WI gherkins are originally from hot climates, so should do well in N. Carolina. Cucamelons are slow to get started, WI gherkins should take about as long from seed as cucumbers.

You can't go wring with Armenian cukes, they will take the heat & produce sweet cucumbers. The only thing I don't like about them is that they get hollow quickly.
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Old July 23, 2019   #4
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 138
Default NC Experience

I have grown cucamelons successfully in Piedmont North Carolina. As previously said they are slow to establish and needed to eaten when small. They have a cucumber taste with a slightly bitter lime after taste.

The best producing cucumber that I have grown that keeps on going well into the summer is Dasher II Hybrid. It keeps producing in the heat and high humidity and is a consistent 7-8 inch slicer with few seeds. The plant only produces female flowers so you do need another variety for pollination. I use Arkansas Little Leaf and Wisconsin SMR-58 as the other plants in the bed. I just picked a bucket of cukes last night and you know how hot it has been in NC for the last week.
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Old July 24, 2019   #5
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Location: USA
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West India burr gherkins are supposed to love humidity, I've read. They can handle aridity, though. They're quite early, and produce all season. They're a lot easier to grow than cucumbers in my garden. They were my first fruiting crop (other than strawberries), this year.

I wouldn't say they need to be picked when they're young. In my garden, the spines didn't get hard. It could be a soil or climate difference. In my garden, they just seem to get lemony tasting, leathery and chewy when they're older (and if they get too old, they taste like ascorbic acid), but they're still very edible IMO. The chewy, leathery ones are really good cooked: They have a nice texture (and taste) in stir fry, and are one of my top favorite vegetables for it (they rival cabbage, IMO).

Mine produced less in the hottest weather (but they still produced). I'm not sure what they're like in humid heat.

Also, the more you harvest, the more they produce. They rebound fast. It's possible that the reason they produced less in the heat was because I wasn't harvesting those that set in the heat until I could save seeds from them.

You can root cuttings of them in water, very quickly. I imagine they layer easily.

West India burr gherkins are larger than cucamelons, but they intimidate some people, while people seem to be drawn to cucamelons.

Some of my plants this year are very flat, and others are a bit bushier. My plant was flat last year. (So the flat trait, if genetic, may be dominant.)

When fully ripe (for seed-saving) mine changed a lighter color.

You might also be interested in Jamaican burr gherkins (which are supposed to be more prolific, and earlier, I think); Sand Hill Preservation Center sells it. Liso Calcutta (the one that Zeedman mentioned), is supposed to be larger and have fewer spines (but it's also a little later, and I read they can dry like gourds). I've seen pictures of some very large ones.

Beit Alpha handled heat better than other cucumbers for me, but I'm not sure what it's like in humidity.

Last edited by shule1; July 24, 2019 at 04:02 AM.
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Old September 22, 2019   #6
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Location: Augusta area, Georgia, 8a/7b
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In July someone gave me some seed for "spiny cucumbers" that just appeared in his garden. He said they were probably West Indian gherkins, were pretty drought/heat tolerant due to their African heritage and and made great crunchy pickles. I planted two hills just for grins and giggles and am glad I just planted two! Very prolific! The vines are very thin and the leaves small.

As you can see from the cross section they are full of seed in relation to the fleshy area between seed and skin but the seeds are soft and not a bother like large cucumber seeds are. The taste is not bitter at all and the spines are not noticeable (at least to me) when you're munching on one. These are about 1 5/8" long, about 1" wide.

Right now I'm playing with using them in pickle recipes. On the left is a quart of a somewhat sweet/tart pickle that I've been munching on for a week. I cut the cukes in quarters lengthwise. In the middle is a pint of Korean style pickles and on the right is a pint of Gin & Tonic Pickles from a recipe that someone asked me to try. That one has gin, tonic water, lime juice and lime slices in it. Those last two pickles were made just yesterday and need two days in the refrigerator before I try them. It took 20 cukes to make a quart and 10 to make a pint.

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Old September 28, 2019   #7
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Brantford, ON, Canada
Posts: 1,333

18 August 2019 Cucamelon (Melothria scabra)
Posted on August 18, 2019 by Durgan 18 August 2019 Cucamelon (Melothria scabra)
A most prolific producer. This is one plant. Grows along a 4 by 8 trellis.
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