'Winter melon' is a plant in the Benincasa genus with a scientific name of Benincasa hispida. The botanical name epithet for Winter melon (hispida) means 'bristly'.
Edible Parts: Flowers; Fruit; Leaves; Seed.
Fruit – raw or cooked. Used as a vegetable, and in pickles, curries and preserves. The fruit can be eaten when it is young or old, it can be picked as early as one week after fertilization. A juicy texture with a mild flavour, the flavour is somewhat stronger in younger fruits. Because of its waxy coating, it will store for several months, sometimes as long as a year. Mature fruits can vary in weight from 2 – 50 kg. A nutritional analysis is available. Young leaves and flower buds are steamed and eaten as a vegetable, or are added as a flavouring to soups. Seed – cooked. Rich in oil and protein.1It is an edible vegetable and is treated mainly as an annual, so it grows best over the course of a single year.
This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about Winter melon have been kindly provided by our members.
Requires a warm sunny position in a rich well-drained soil and plenty of moisture in the growing season. Established plants are reasonably drought tolerant. This species is not very frost hardy, it is best grown in a greenhouse in Britain but can succeed outdoors in good summers if started off in a greenhouse and planted out after the last expected frosts.1
A wax that coats the fruit is used to make candles. The roots have considerable resistance to soil-borne diseases and they are sometimes used as a rootstock for melons and other cucurbits1.
Plants require stable temperatures in excess of 25°c if they are to do well. Short daylengths and lower temperatures stimulate female flower development, higher temperatures stimulate male flower production. Plants take 5 months from seed to produce a mature crop, though the fruits can be eaten when immature. The wax gourd is frequently cultivated for its edible fruit in the tropics, there are many named varieties. One group, sometimes classified as B. hispids chieh-gua, is known as the hairy melon or jointed gourd. This form is grown for its immature fruit in much the same way as courgettes are used. Mature fruits of this form do not develop a waxy coating. The fruit can be harvested about 3 months after sowing.1
(The following is written from a UK perspective)…
Seed – sow March/April in a greenhouse. Germination should take place within 3 weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on fast in a rich compost in the greenhouse. Try to maintain a minimum night temperature of at least 10°c for the seedlings first few weeks. Plant out in May/June after the last expected frosts1.
These plants have been known to grow well alongside Winter melon so consider planting:
These plants will not grow well with Winter melon so avoid planting these within close proximity:
These problems, diseases and pests are known to affect Winter melon plants:
Cucuzza, Wax gourd
Benincasa hispida (Thunb.) Cogn.