Growing Cantaloupe/Muskmelon

It’s been a while since I posted. Lots of stuff going on and I was just not motivated to write. But, thwack, snap out of it! The Bible says don’t worry about tomorrow, today has enough trouble of it own. Isn’t that the truth… Back to making time to write. It’s exercise for my brain.

The flavor of a store bought melon doesn’t compare to a fully ripened home grown melon.

Did you know that what we call cantaloupe from the grocery store is actually muskmelon?  Cantaloupe is actually a type of muskmelon or so some sources say. There is quite a bit of contradictory information. Cantaloupe has ribs and has less to no netting. Muskmelon is easier to grow and easier to ship. Muskmelon is what you find in the grocery store year round. They taste pretty much the same one is a little sweeter, one is a little muskier.

What ever it is, it definitely tastes better when you grow it yourself. A fully ripe, fully sweetened melon is a rare find in the grocery store. Once you eat a home grown one you’ll know.

Melons vary in size depending on the variety from one pound to several pounds.

You can expect to get 2-6 melons per vine, depending on spacing, health of the plant and pollination.

 

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Planting– Start seed indoors 4 weeks before last frost for a head start or direct seed into the garden.

Plant in full sun after last frost in well drained, fertile soil.

Don’t plant near potatoes.  Plant in soil with a near neutral ph. Space them about 18″ apart. Can be 12″ apart for vertical gardening.

 

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If you are growing conventionally (horizonally) plant further apart. If you are growing vertically, they can be closer together.

They can even be grown vertically in containers. Put one plant per large container, about 18″ give or take.

Watering– Moderate even watering. Too much water at once can split the melon. Cutting back on water right before harvest concentrates the sugars for a sweeter melon.

Fertilizing– low N, high P, high K. Too much nitrogen will result in more leaves and more male flowers. Female flowers produce the fruit. We want lots of those.

 

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Growing– Can not tolerate frost. Powdery mildew hits around the beginning of August.

Harvesting– No need for guessing when it’s the right time. When it is ready, it just falls off the vine. This usually happens mid to late August. If you are growing vertically, you want to have some support, otherwise it will fall to the ground and break open. A sling under the melon works well.

 

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Signs it is getting ready to release are the flesh under the netting turn from green to tan. It also smells sweet and begin to drip where the vine attaches.

Pests– Deer, powdery mildew. Use organic controls. Some leaves may die back but the melon can usually be left to ripen.

 

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cantaloupe

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