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Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumbers

Growing Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumbers

They look like tiny watermelons, but taste like cucumbers. What the heck are they? That’s what most people say when they lay eyes on a Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumber.

It’s an heirloom variety that keeps gardeners from getting bored. We first saw them at the Culver City Garden Show, where fellow gardenerd Elizabeth Camp was showing them off. One look and we knew they were a garden must.  We grew them this summer in our Test Garden, so here’s the lowdown:

Mexican Sour Gherkin flower

They took quite a bit longer to germinate and grow to a decent sized-plant. In fact, our Armenian cucumbers were almost finished by the time these little buggers showed real signs of life. But we kept pulling for them, and it paid off.

Tiny tendrils and delicate leaves began to climb the trellis, and they haven’t stopped yet. We planted from seed in late March. It’s now October and we’re still eating these tasty fruits. Using drip irrigation to keep the soil bed moist, and several applications of compost, the plants responded most to warmer weather.

Tiny Mexican Sour Gherkin setting fruit

We helped guide the tendrils up the trellis, but they reached the top quickly and began to reroute sideways and everywhere. Soon we had mini watermelons hanging all over the place.

As they grow…

The taste is slightly tart, but more than anything, it’s a flavor explosion that screams SUMMER when you bite into one of these little guys. They make great party favors and fantastic conversation-starters at block parties.

Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumbers

We got our seed from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, and we would definitely grow these again, even though they took longer than expected to get going. Patience is key with this variety, but the results are worth it.

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. Kathee

    Started seeds here in mid April to put into my high tunnel here in Homer, Alaska. They germinated in about 4 days, but sure are slow to grow much. We have plenty of daylight now, from around 6:30 am till almost 10 pm. By late May til mid June, the sun barely sets. How are these affected by so many hours of daylight? I don’t have them in the high tunnel yet as we are having a cooler spring than usual. The high tunnel gets plenty warm during the day, but cools off by 10 pm.

    1. Christy

      Hi Kathee, Mexican Sour Gherkins take a really long time to get going but then they jump. They’re reported days to maturity is 75 days. I’m guessing your extra sunlight may make them jump sooner than down here, but it’s hard to tell. Plants need some darkness in order to rest between growth spurts. That said, I’ve seen the gargantuan produce from Alaskan gardens, so they must not mind the lack of darkness that much. Be patient and hopefully you’ll see results before the season ends. Good for you for experimenting.

  2. Gene

    Why do mine make tiny ones which fall off before getting edible size?

    1. Christy

      It could be a number of things, Gene, but usually if fruit falls off before it’s ripe it’s usually a deficiency of phosphorus and potassium. Plants naturally abort fruit if they don’t have the nutrients to support life. I usually recommend putting down compost and watering with kelp emulsion every two weeks until the situation improves. A little organic veggie fertilizer can help as well, if you use that.

  3. Sandy

    Are the growths at the roots edible?

  4. Jen

    I tried to grow them last year but no fruit appeared. I was patient and I babied them. The vines grew like crazy but no fruit.

    1. Christy

      I recall the vines took a really long time to get going, but then they took off. It took another stretch of time before I started to see flowers. They are not the quick producers of typical cucumbers. Seed catalogs list it as being anywhere from 60-75 days to maturity. That said, if you left them all season and they did nothing, it may be that your soil is in need of phosphorus or potassium. Both are responsible for fruiting and flowering, and overall vigor. Worth doing a soil test before planting this year to see what your soil needs.

  5. Kelly

    I am in St. Louis, MO. When should I seed these? The area I will plan them in gets almost full sun, but there is some shading here and there. Thanks!

    1. Christy

      St. Louis has a last frost date of April 15th, so you can plant them indoors (or protected seed trays) now for planting out after April 15th. Full sun is great for these cucs. Have fun growing them!

  6. Erin

    I was wondering if these guys will grow in washington state. We have a raised bed garden and are about to start planting. What do you recommend for them and where should I buy seeds at? And what kind of they require?

    1. Christy

      Erin, it’s worth a try. They take awhile to get going, so I’d start them as soon as possible. Once they start producing, they go forever (until frost anyway). Find seeds in many seed catalogs including Baker Creek heirloom Seeds, High Mowing Organic Seeds and Seed Savers Exchange. I don’t recall having to give them any special care other than what you would for regular cucumbers. The stems are much thinner and delicate, so don’t put them near a high-traffic area.

  7. Judith Cade

    Will they work in a greenhouse?

    1. Christy

      Worth a try. India is hot and humid at times, so I’m guessing they’ll do fine in a greenhouse.

  8. Byung

    I have been starting them indoors and transplanting them but they don’t seem to survive the transplant. Any advice?

    1. Christy

      Cucumbers are one of those crops that don’t like to have their roots disturbed, and the transplanting process does that. They prefer to be direct seeded. If you need to start them indoors, I recommend using a biodegradable pot like a Cow Pot. You can plant it directly in the ground and it will break down. The roots will also penetrate the pot with relative ease. Just make sure to tear off the lip of the pot that is above ground. Leaving it will just wick moisture out of the soil and dry the whole thing out.

      Also, make sure you’re hardening them off properly. They need time to transition from indoors to outdoor direct sunlight. I’ve scorched so many bush beans by not giving them enough time. A few hours outside in a partially sunny spot first, then slowly extend the full sunlight time until they are in full sun entirely. Do this over about a 5-7 day period and they should be fine.

      I hope this helps.

  9. robin barnett

    I just bought 6 small and very healthy plants, but do not know how far apart to plant them, and we have slugs and snails (NW WA) so I was thinking of planting three in each big tire planter with a sturdy trellis of rods and tape to climb up. question, I have read that the plants can start again the next year if taken care of during the winter. I was thinking of insulated upside down buckets to keep the roots warmer with straw mulch) just to see if they can regenerate for another year. what say you?

    1. Christy

      I plant my cucumbers 6″ apart along a trellis. My cucumbers usually succumb to powdery mildew (we’re coastal) so I can’t speak to the idea of they coming back the next year. It’s not something I’ve heard of, in general, but that doesn’t mean someone out there isn’t doing it with success. In my neck of the woods tomatoes come back year after year in some places, but with cucumbers I recommend starting over. That said, if you let a few Sour Gherkins drop in the soil, they’ll volunteer next year.

      I like your insulated bucket idea, as long as they let enough sunlight through. 1 gallon translucent milk jugs will work like a mini-greenhouse. We use those (smaller water bottles) to keep critters from munching on small seedlings until they’re big enough to fend for themselves.

      I’ll give you my opinion on tire planters: unless they are lined with something, I wouldn’t plant in them. Toxic residues are not something you want around your food.

  10. Guillermo Alciso

    Hi I want to know if I can grow sour gherkins from seeds can you tell me where I can buy the seeds for planting sour gherkins?

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