Undoubtedly the little person success of last year, possibly of all time, was the discovery of mouse melons. They’re the fruit of cucurbit and are also known as Mexican cucumber, Cucamelon and Mexican miniature watermelon. Their Latin name is Melothria scabra and we bought some seeds from Suttons seeds where they are part of Eden Project range.

One thing that became apparent last summer was that the plants are better off if grown up and over something, rather than being allowed to scrabble around on the ground – here they are like melons proper, rather than say marrows.

I couldn’t readily find any seeds this year and so when we found the seeds left from last season, I was relieved as Little Boots had requested we grow them. Since they are cucurbits I was pretty sure they’d have retained their viability and would grow OK and so began to give some thought about what to grow them up. Sticks and poles seemed like a no-no as did peasticks and string-lines. I reckoned that some kind of netting type affair was the best option. But netting in the garden is at best functional and at worst naff and always something of an eyesore. Then I recalled something I had made in the garden when LB was a toddler and which had been a definite success. Much as I would like to say I invented this, I did not, but having said that I have no idea where I picked the idea up from.

The answer’s obvious I thought – a big spider’s web.

This is a fairly simple thing to make, though does take a little while to construct. First make a square frame, it doesn’t have to be bamboo but that’s what I’ve used. Stick two uprights in the ground and then tie in top and bottom cross pieces. Next tie a series of lengths of string along the top bar and the top half of the uprights.

(TIP = To make a knot that doesn’t slip wind the string three times around the bamboo before tying your knot.)

Start by tying one of the strings to the bottom bar in a diagonal line. Then start tying the other strings in, making sure to tie a knot where they cross the first string. After the first couple the string pattern is stable and you should tie the strings off irregularly and not in straight lines. You should end up with something that looks like this:

The final stage is to start with a small ball of string. Tie it somewhere in the middle, and then move outwards in a spiral, tying it off everytime it crosses another string. I like to make this pattern irregular and also to keep a fair bit of tension in the strings. neither is vital, but tying tight knots that don’t slip is. Because of the number of knots involved this last phase can seem to last forever, but it’s worth persevering, because the end result is, if I say it myself pretty groovy.