A few cucurbit links

Here are some links I’ve come across recently dealing with our plant family of the year.

The Southern Exposure Seed Exchange blog has advice about using winter squash as summer squash. Most of the squashes we let mature to fully ripe and consume as winter squash can also be eaten in their immature stage. This is particularly useful to know if your plant dies before the squash are “finished.”

SESE photo: “winter” squash ready to be eaten immature

Jay, the “Scientific Gardener,” writes about the best way to plant cucurbit seeds so that they maximize use of sunlight and get off to a stronger start.

And last – you all know my affection for mouse melons or Mexican sour gherkins, which taste like cucumbers and look like tiny watermelons and go by the scientific name Melothria scabra. They are a member of the Cucurbitaceae that are not hardy in this region, though they tend to come up year after year from the seed in dropped fruits very nicely.

Well, there is also a member of that genus native to our region, Creeping Cucumber or Melothria pendula, which you can read about here at Eat the Weeds. Of course I now want to grow this, if I can find seed. I found out about it through a Facebook post by the Maryland Native Plant Society, which says that “There is reportedly a large colony of Creeping Cucumber along the floodplain of the Anacostia River at the U.S. National Arboretum, in D.C. It also grows at the edge of Shell-Marl Ravine Forest at Flag Ponds Nature Park, Calvert County, Maryland. Brown and Brown, in their 1984 book “Herbaceous Plants of Maryland,” report it from Prince George’s County, Maryland, and it was discovered a couple of years ago in the City of Alexandria, Virginia.”

comment on my linked mouse melon post above mentioned black mouse melons, which I strongly suspect were Melothria pendula, since they turn black at full ripeness (and shouldn’t be eaten at that stage). Melothria scabra doesn’t do this, at least not in my experience – they stay green until they fall off the plant.

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