Mexican Sour Gherkin Specialty Cucumber


Mexican Sour Gherkin Specialty Cucumber

Melothria scabra
(65 days) Open-pollinated. Also known as Cucamelon or Sandía de ratón (‘Mouse Watermelon’ in Spanish), and Preserving Cucumber in France. Native to Mexico and Central America and a staple in diets there since pre-Columbian times. We love the unusual, so when we saw these darlings on exhibit at Common Ground Fair in 2004, we found them irresistible. The great late Janet Winslow calls them a “gateway” crop, meaning they inspire fairgoers to explore the diversity of available food crops.

Wimpy seedlings grow into rampant yet delicate scrambling vines covered with dozens of 1" green and white fruit that look like miniature watermelons but taste more like cucumbers, with a crunchy texture and a slight sour zing as if they were already pickled. Botanically neither cucumber nor watermelon and won’t cross with either. They don’t bruise and they keep for a long time.

After staffer Emily Skrobis discovered these, she vowed never to grow cucumbers again: “SO snackable! I grow only a few plants each year but have enough to make a couple pints each of curry-kins, dilly-kins and smoked-paprikins refrigerator pickles.” Also popular among trendy bartenders. Slightly more cold-tolerant than cukes, and more drought-resistant. 10' vines benefit from a fence or trellis. About 350 seeds/g.

1243 Mexican Sour Gherkin
Item Discounted
A: 0.2g for $3.00   
B: 1g for $7.00   

Additional Information


  • About 30 seeds/g; about 900 seeds/oz; variations noted.
  • Days to maturity are from emergence after direct seeding. From transplant, subtract 20 days.

Culture: May be started indoors for early production, or direct-seeded when soil has warmed. Minimum germination soil temperature 65°, optimal range 65–95°. Very tender, will not survive frost. Direct seed 3" apart thinning to 1' apart in rows 4–6' apart or 6 per mound in hills 4' apart thinning to 3 best plants. For transplants: once seedlings have 1–2 true leaves, about 3 weeks old, plant 1' apart in rows 4–6' apart. Cucumbers require good fertility and regular rain or irrigation for abundant yields. Without adequate water, fruits will be misshapen and bitter. Pick cukes frequently for best production, or else the plants shut down. Make sure to remove blimps to the compost pile.

Combat striped cucumber beetles by handpicking early AM when the dew makes them sluggish, or use floating row covers, removing when cukes flower. Cucumber beetles are the vector for BW.

Using compost in conjunction with row covers (rather than either alone) increased cucumber yields at the University of Michigan.

Parthenocarpic varieties can set fruit without being pollinated, an advantage in cold cloudy summers. Gynoecious varieties produce almost exclusively female flowers for uniformity and high yields.

Saving Seed: Saving cucumber seed is easy! Take that big yellow cuke that got away and save it for seed. Scoop out the guts of overripe fruit and ferment it in an uncovered container for a few days. A moldy gross cap to the slurry means the seeds are ready to rinse and dry. To ensure true-to-type seed, grow only one open-pollinated variety per season.


  • ALS: Alternaria Leaf Spot
  • ANTH: Anthracnose
  • BW: Bacterial Wilt
  • CMV: Cucumber Mosaic Virus
  • CVYV: Cucumber Vein Yellow Virus
  • DM: Downy Mildew
  • PM: Powdery Mildew
  • PRSV: Papaya Ring Spot Virus
  • R: Rust
  • WMV: Watermelon Mosaic Virus
  • ZYMV: Zucchini Yellows Mosaic Virus

Pest: Striped Cucumber Beetle
Cultural controls: use tolerant or resistant varieties, rotate crops, till under crop debris soon after harvest, use floating row covers until flowers appear, use plastic mulch, perimeter trap cropping (Black Zucchini and Blue Hubbard make particularly good trap crops), use yellow sticky strips, hand-pick early morning when beetles are very sluggish.
Materials: Surround, Pyrethrum (PyGanic).

Germination Testing

For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.

Our Seeds are Non-GMO


All of our seeds are non-GMO, and free of neonicotinoids and fungicides. Fedco is one of the original companies to sign the Safe Seed Pledge.