Every spring I rustle around in my seed collection to plan the summer vegetable patch. In the cupboard I came across an envelope that Lyn, an avid seed saver, had given me last autumn."Mouse Melon" said the label. Visions of a melon, just perfect for one or two serves, that didn't need a lot of space to grow, swam into my imagination.
The tiny little plants that came up looked very much like baby Black Eyed Susan and soon sent out tendrils to grasp the trellis. When it reached a metre high, no flowers in sight and began rampaging through a neighbouring rosebush I thought it was time to find out more.
Dear little thing turned out to be a cucumber designed as a watermelon. Native to Mexico and Central America,its Latin name is Melothria scabra. Iwas reassured to find they were'slow to start'
then read on that they can 'often reach ten feet. In the UK they grow them indoors.
They are waterwise and drought tolerant. I can vouch for that as the old barrels are notorious for drying out. Now, at the end of summer, it is looking a bit raggedy but still producing and doing no harm to the Rose it is hanging over. It really is a darling little plant, its 'cucmelons' hang like lanterns and totally foil the parrots, who have never seen anything like it before.
The skin is slightly lemony and gets a bit tough if left unpicked for too long. They are wonderful in salads and as a garnish and apparently pickle as well as their larger cousins. I haven't managed to keep enough to pickle yet, too busy playing 'show and tell' everywhere I visit.
It really is a darling little plant. I will be saving seed if you folks in Western Australia would like some, send a stamped, self addressed envelope to me at PO Box 353, Margaret River and I will send you some.