Egusi Melon plants have a resemblance to the watermelon plants and both have crawl and climbing features that resemble the watermelon.
The melon can be used in making soups and has an edible oil that can be extracted for medical purposes. Unlike the watermelon, the white flesh of the egusi melon is bitter and not edible.
Egusi melon seeds are larger and lighter in color than melon seeds. Egusi Melon can tolerate dry to wet conditions for growth, but the fruit can only reach maturity in dry conditions which are about five to six months after planting.
The plant is highly resistant to pests and diseases and can be used as a cover crop to help reduce the growth of unwanted weeds. This plant is easy to grow and can flourish in dry areas. This makes it a good source of food for farmers in areas lacking favorable growth conditions.
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HOW TO PLANT THE EGUSI MELON
Egusi melon strives better during the dry season, so the best time to plant your egusi melon is at the start of rain which should be between April and June. Preparing the soil for planting is the first step to planting the egusi melon.
This is because the best kind of soil to plant the egusi melon is soft soil. This means that if the land is hard and clumpy, then it should be dismantled into loose soil. Once this is done, then your egusi melon is ready to be planted.
Another thing you want to do is to make ridges. Make a hole of 2 inches in depth and ensure that the space between each hole is at least 20 inches.
Now, place at most 5 seeds in each hole. Then, water the seeds regularly and watch out for sprouts within a week of planting the egusi melon. Usually, seedlings will appear within a week. The plant is expected to germinate within one week.
HARVESTING THE EGUSI MELON
To harvest the egusi melon, all you need to do is to cut the heads from the crawling stem. You can easily squeeze the melon and press out the egusi seeds or you can leave it for one or two weeks to decompose after which you may need to break the pod with something hard before harvesting the seeds. The melon can be stored for several months after harvesting.
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CARE OF THE EGUSI MELON
Egusi Melon is relatively disease-free in its native area, although variegated locusts can eat egusi melon seedlings. If seeds are not properly stored, beetles can severely damage stored seeds. So, the egusi melon seeds should be stored in well-sealed containers to prevent beetle damage.
The egusi melon should be ready in about six months and can produce about 150 seeds from each melon stem.
Ensure to plant your egusi melon in an environment with shelter from trees. This will enable the egusi melon to climb well and crawl in order to spread well and grow. An alternative to having trees if there are none is to construct stakes at strategic places for the egusi to climb.