How to: Grow horned melon

Cucumis metuliferus is more commonly referred to as kiwano, horned cucumber, and horned melon. Its names suit its appearance; a melon-like fruit with large spikes all over. It’s a vine native to Africa that bears spiny edible fruits. It is in the cucumber (Cucurbitaceae) family and doesn’t look too far off from a cucumber. This is an annual plant that is great for growing in the garden, especially against a fence to let it climb. The plant can’t survive cold temperatures so it is best grown as a summer crop. If planting outside, the seeds should be sown after the last frost or in spring. These don’t make good house plants because being an annual, they demand a lot more sunlight than a window can provide. While the plant itself isn’t very aesthetically pleasing, the fruits are. They usually have red, yellow, and green streaks.

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Where can you buy horned melons? I would recommend high-end grocery stores, or specialty grocers that carry a wide variety of fruits. I am unaware of anywhere that sells seeds or plants so your best bet is to buy a fruit and plant the seeds.

Not many people like the taste of horned melons, but I would recommend that you at least try one. To eat a horned melon, you should cut it in half and scoop out the inside with a spoon. You will notice that the fruit has hundreds of jelly-like portions, inside of which you will find a seed. The seeds are edible, but if you want to try your hand at planting one, you must first remove it from the surrounding gelatin (not as easy as it sounds). If you dislike the taste, try sprinkling some sugar on it.

This picture is a good example of the horned melon’s climbing potential. You should allow the plant to climb up a trellis or fence rather than spread out on the ground. This will protect your fruits, save space and make harvesting easier.

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