This fleshy melon is used in soups and stews in Southeast Asia where it was first cultivated, as well as in South and East Asia. Sometimes it is candied (Philippines, North India, Pakistan). The shoots, tendrils, and young leaves can be eaten as vegetables, but as Co Phung from Resilient Roots farm told us, this means less fruit production. The mature fruits get a chalky covering, which helps protect the ripe fruits for long storage, hence the name Winter Melon.
This seed was grown by Amanda Chin in a tunnel-like trellis at Garrett Williamson Foundation. Amanda's Toisanese grandfather grew this melon. Her uncle, Fung Chin, shared these seeds with her (passed on from his late father-in-law, Wai Szto).
Days to maturity: 85-95
Seeds per pack: 25
Germination rate: 73% on 04/05/2023
Planting / harvesting notes
Direct sow in warm soil after the last frost, or seed indoors 3-4 weeks beforehand and transplant. Space 12-18" apart in rows that are 4-6' apart. Alternatively, plant several seeds in mounds spaced 4-6' apart. Keep ground slightly moist until germination, but do not overwater. Winter Melons love heat, long seasons, and well drained soils.
Seed keeping notes
Melons are insect pollinated and require about 1/2 a mile of isolation from other varieties of the same species, which in this case is Benincasa hispida. The seeds will be fully mature when the fruit gets large and the stem withers. Separate the seeds from the flesh, rinse them, and dry them on a screen or paper product away from direct sunlight in a ventilated place. The plumpest and hardest seeds will be most viable.