Have you ever heard of gac melon? Well, unless you dwell in regions from Southern China to Northeastern Australia where gac melon hails, it’s probably unlikely, but this melon is on the fast track and destined to become the next super fruit. What is gac melon? Read on to find out about growing gac melon fruit, its care and other gac melon information.
What is Gac Melon?
While the fruit is commonly referred to as gac, it is variously referred to as baby jackfruit, spiny bitter gourd, sweet gourd (which is it?), or cochinchin gourd. Its Latin name is Momordica cochinchinensis.
Gac grows on dioecious vines – m ale flowers bloom on one plant and females on another. They are a common sight growing on lattices at the entries to rural homes and gardens in their lands of origin. The vines only fruit once a year, making it highly seasonal.
The fruit is dark orange when ripe, round to oblong and about 5 inches (13 cm.) long and 4 inches (10 cm.) across. The exterior is covered in spines and the interior pulp is dark red looking rather like a blood orange.
Gac is describes as being very mild in flavor, rather like a cucumber. The fleshy pulp is soft and spongy. Gac, or spiny gourd, is not only harvested for its uses in numerous dishes, but the seeds are also cooked with rice to impart it with a lustrous brilliantly red look and oily, mild nutty flavor.
In Vietnam, the fruit is referred to as the “fruit from heaven,” where it is believed to promote longevity, health and vitality, and it turns out they may be right. Recent studies of this melon has shown it contains a large amount of lycophene, 70 times more than tomatoes. This antioxidant is not only a cancer fighting agent but helps to delay the effects of aging.
The fruit is also rich in carotene, up to 10 times more than carrots and sweet potatoes. No wonder it’s getting press as the next super food. Now I bet you’re wondering about growing gac melons.
How to Grow a Spiny Gourd Gac Melon
A perennial vine, gac may fruit in the first year or in its second. Start seeds at least 8 weeks prior to transplanting outdoors. Be patient. The seeds are slow to germinate and may take a month or more. Soaking the seeds in water overnight will help speed germination. The seeds have one opening that should be placed down in the soil. This is where the vine will emerge.
Transplant outside after the last frost in the spring or into a larger pot in the greenhouse. In either case, the plant will get big, so use at least a 5-gallon (19 liter) container. Gac takes about 8 months to fruit from germination.
Gac Fruit Care
Gac grows in temperate areas where temperatures are at least 60 F. (15 C.). The tender plant needs protection from cool nighttime temps and will do best in a warm greenhouse as a perennial or it can be grown as an annual plant in cooler climates.
As gac is dioecious, in order to get fruit, grow at least 6 plants to ensure pollination. Also, hand pollination may also be necessary.