Also known as Jelly melon. This visually intriguing tropical fruit, with its bright orange skin and spikes, is a native vine of Africa. Toting a high price tag, you may have seen this in the exotic fruit section of your supermarket. You can now grow it at home! Flesh is quite interesting with a Jell-O-like consistency and a flavor that is similar to a mix of cucumber, kiwi, and banana. Toss in fruit salads, use as garnish for gourmet dishes, or use the cleaned out rind like a bowl.
Germination: 4-10 days
Germination Temperature: Optimum soil temperatures 70-85ºF
Seed Sowing Depth: 1/2" deep
Sowing Indoors: 3-4 weeks before last frost. Provide 70-85ºF soil temperature. Sow 2-3 seeds per cell/pot. Sowing into individual biodegradable peat/cow pots reduces root damage when transplanting. Transplant after last frost, 36" apart.
Sowing Outdoors: Sow after last frost when soil temperature is over 70ºF. Sow 2-3 seeds every 36", thin to the strongest seedling.
How much does a packet plant: 18-20 foot single row, 5-6 hills
Harvest: Look for the following signs as it does take some practice on telling when they are ready to harvest. The skin tone changes and netting becomes heavy, the ends soften, they will slip from the vines or a gentle tug will pull it away from the vine, a crack develops around the stem, the closest tendril to the stem dries, and the aroma increases when ripe.
Tips: Plant in fertile soil, amended with compost or well rotted manure and keep well watered. They benefit from growing on black plastic and by using row covers for weed, insect control, and more rapid growth.