Ask anyone who knows me and he or she will say that I have a passion for growing vegetables. Although my garden is small, each year I try to plant and grow a new unique variety of vegetable (at least new to my garden and me), along with the standard beefsteak tomato and green bell pepper. This past growing season I planted and tried to grow Queensland pumpkins. Although the plant thrived at first and had many blossoms, the hot summer sun with little rain soon turned the green vines into dried up gnarled twigs. Most gardeners wait until new seed catalogs come out in late winter before deciding what they want to plant for the coming year. I, being a little different, chose to start my garden planning early, and have been looking into a variety of melon known as the Snake melon. This melon looked interesting, so I decided to find out all I could about it.
What are Snake Melons
Snake melon, also referred to as the Armenian cucumber, was introduced into European countries around the mid 1400s. It is a market favorite in countries such as India and South Asia. Although it resembles a long cucumber, it is a melon because it will not cross-pollinate with any variety of cucumber. It is one of the oldest heirloom melon varieties and can grow from ten inches up to four feet long and have a diameter up to three inches. Most are light green or light green with white stripes, and some even turn bright red inside and out when fully matured. As the melons grow, they will curl and twist if planted on the ground. If you plant them next to a trellis (you will need a tall one), they will grow straighter. As you may have guessed, its name is derived from its shape and color.
Planting and Growing Snake Melons
Snake melons are annuals hardy to zones four to ten. They like a good rich soil that is on the sandy side and a full, hot sun. If possible, it is best to start the seeds indoors six weeks before the last frost. If you have a cold frame, you can start them earlier and move the young plants to the cold frame before planting outdoors. This process will guarantee a well-established root base for easier transplanting. Pruning the vines will help keep the plants health, while removing debris will help keep pests and diseases away. The yellow blossoms of the snake melon are similar in shape to that of the cucumber.
Cooking with Snake Melons
Snake melons can be used in dishes the same way cucumbers are used. The excellent flavor of this melon makes it a favorite in stir-fry, soups and salads. It is great for pickling or infused in alcoholic drinks.
I may try growing this next season, with my only hesitation being, mistaking one of these for a snake or vice versa.
Sources: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Wikipedia