Sometimes referred to as the tiger melon, these fiery looking little cuties are striped and colored as their namesake suggests. While they don’t bounce to and fro, they do indeed liven up the garden and kitchen. Tigger Melons, Cucmis melon, are a smaller heirloom melon that grow up to 1lb. and fit nicely in the palm of your hand. These vibrant colored melons are thought to have first been discovered growing in ancient Armenia, and then through travel and trade, spread to other regions.
Not Your Everyday Melon:
The Tigger Melon has several characteristics that make it stand out. Beyond its stunning orange and gold striping, this melon is extremely fragrant and its sweet smell can fill up a room even without cutting it open. The flesh is a beautiful white to cream color and has a taste and texture similar to muskmelon or honeydew. The flavor is rather mild and rarely sweet, even though their scent would suggest otherwise. Tiggers are known to be fairly drought tolerant, and do well in the drier times of summer.
To plant Tiggers, you would use similar method of planting that you would use for watermelons and the like. Pick a warm sunny location that has well drained soil with a pH around 6 and allows plenty of room for the plants’ vines to grow and travel. Planting in small hills spaced 2-4’ apart, with 1-3 seeds per mound is a good method to follow. Water well, but don’t spray overhead, as this can lead to the growth of fungus. Instead try using drip irrigation.
Tiggers take 80-90 days to mature, so when you plan your planting time, make sure your growing season will allow for this lengthy growing period. Once the fruit does starts to appear you can place straw under it to protect from rot, although this isn’t as essential as it is for heavier melons. Also, be cautious when using straw as sometimes this can invite in squash bugs. As your plants continue to grow watch out for pesky squash bugs as they love devouring viney pants. If you find you have squash bugs, manually remove them and their eggs from your plants. A little trick you can try is to place small boards in your garden at night. Squash bugs retreat underneath the boards and you can find them in the morning and dispose of them. If you find that you have parts of your plant too damaged from the bugs to recover, remove and burn them.
Preventing squash bug is your best option. So as said before, don’t use straw if you think it could draw them in. Also rotate your crops each year and keep your garden tidy to help prevent them from showing up at all. You can cover your plants to keep the bugs off, just be sure your melons are getting pollinated. Companion planting is also another option to help keep pests away from your Tiggers. Plant tansy in your garden; just make sure it isn’t considered an invasive plant where you live. If planting tansy isn’t an option, just brew up a strong batch of tansy tea and spray your plants with it once it has cooled.
When to Pick:
As these fierce little melons mature and ripen it will be time to harvest. Look for melons where the vine joining the melon has begun to brown and tug slightly. It should pop off easily when fully ripe.
Time to Dine:
The Tigger Melon offers approximately 60 calories per cup (160 grams), with <1 gram of fat, >1 gram of protein, and 15 grams of carbohydrates (1 gram of which is dietary fiber). Along with contributing vitamin C, this melon, being a white fleshed fruit, offers the phytochemicals anthoxanthins. Anthoxanthins have been shown to have protective properties that reduce inflammation. Reducing inflammation can decrease the risk of strokes, prevent certain cancers, improve heart health, and stave off chronic illnesses.
This fierce little melon can brighten up your kitchen just by sitting on the counter; however, it can add some deliciousness to your kitchen creations. If you want to go beyond just eating the fresh Tigger Melon on its own, give this recipe a whirl.
Tigger and Labneh
2 Tigger Melons – removed from the rind and cut to ½ squares
3-4 Labneh Yogurt/Cheese Balls
1-2 T of dried mint, basil, or crushed red pepper flakes (pick just one)
2-3 T balsamic vinegar
2-3 T olive oil
Place prepared melon in a large bowl
Add oil and vinegar
Sprinkle in your choice of herbs and spices
Place mixture on a serving plate, reserving a little oil, vinegar, and spice mixture
Gently (as they crumble easily) add Labneh balls
Spoon the remaining oil, vinegar, and spice mixture over the cheese
Chill before serving or eat immediately
If you cannot find Labneh in stores, or you have your own source of raw milk, you can make this cheese/yogurt yourself. Try this recipe for Labneh and you can even preserve the extra in olive oil. While Labneh has a wonderful taste and texture, other soft cheeses can be used in its place if Labneh is not an option.
The herbs and spices added to this are up to you. I happen to find mint goes well with melons and cheese, plus I just really enjoy it. Adding a little heat to this dish with the crushed red pepper or even your favorite hot sauce gives your taste buds even more of an adventure.
The Tigger Melon with its adorable name, charming look, wonderful smell, and mild taste make it a superb choice in summer produce. It is pleasing to the palate, yet not overly sweet, and looks stunning while growing in the garden. Tiggers are not your typical melon, but are an enchanting one, and would be a colorful and fun addition to your eating and growing space.
Feature Image: Tigger melons ripening Via https://sanctuarygardener.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/sanctuary-gardener-update-71513/
Who is Sanctuary Gardener? Rosemarie is a displaced Yankee creating an urban homestead in the South. Employed as a research administrator at a medical university, she spends most of her free time growing fruits and vegetables, canning and preserving harvests, and planning new ways to become more self-sufficient. She enjoys writing and speaking about her garden and homestead and the joys of returning to a simpler, more healthy way of life. Visit her About page to learn more about Rosemarie and her adjustment to Southern living and gardening. You can connect with Rosemarie;
Burkness, S., et al. 2017 Regents of the University of Minnesota. University of Minnesota Extension. Squash bugs in home gardens. http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/squash-bugs/
Griep, L., et al. October 24, 2011. American Heart Assocation Journal. Stroke. Colors of Fruit and Vegetables and 10-Year Incidence of Stroke. V: 42:11. Pages: 3190-3195. Doi: 0.1161/STROKEAHA.110.611152. http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/42/11/3190.long
Oregon State University. 2017 Oregon State University. Gardening Tips. http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/tips
Wikipedia.org. March 8, 2017. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Melon. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melon