Contrary to what its name suggests, Winter Melon does not grow in the Winter Time. Its growing season is more in line with that of Pumpkins.
It acquired the name Winter Melon due to its excellent storage qualities. It can be stored for up to a year when mature. The Chinese who first cultivated it would store it whole and have melon to eat all winter long – hence “Winter” Melon.
Also known as Wax Gourd, and White Gourd, it is a rapidly growing, long-season, warm-climate vegetable.
It is not a fruit and it’s taste, although it is related to melons, is more vegetable like – not as sweet as honeydew or cantaloupe, it is mildly sweet. It can be eaten raw, but is most commonly used in stews and soups where it adapts to the taste of what it is cooked with.
One of my favorites is a soup made with smoked pork, the melon takes on the taste of the pork.
Because of its size it is best grown in the same fashion as pumpkin or watermelon and allowed to sprawl out across the ground.
It grows relatively large and is comparative to water melons and larger pumpkins.
Seeds can be started indoors in cell packs or peat pots or sown directly into the soil in early spring. Soil temperature should be in the vicinity of 60 degrees F.
Seeds should be mildly bruised, not so much as to crack the hull just mildly roughed up to optimize your germination rate. In nature most seeds get battered by weather, and soil particles. Thick skinned seeds such as Winter Melon germinate at a better rate when they are roughened a tad in imitation of nature. Simply rubbing them aggressively between your fingers will suffice.