Growing cantaloupe and honeydew melons at house is so satisfying, as these fruits offer an explosive taste that doesn’t compare to their store-bought cousins.
By utilizing a black ground cover to warm soil and drifting row covers to trap warm air near plants, garden enthusiasts in any part of the country can count on cutting into the homegrown goodness of melons.
Soil, Planting, and Care
Cantaloupe and honeydew melons thrive in warm soil. Don’t plant till the ground temperature level is above 70 degrees F, which normally happens about the time peonies flower in northern zones.
Prior to planting, cover soil with plastic film to accelerate soil warming. Prepare your planting bed well because cantaloupes and honeydew are heavy feeders.
The fast way is to plant in soil amended with a number of inches of compost or well-rotted manure, if readily available, or with Miracle-Gro ® Garden Soil for Vegetables & Herbs.
Feed frequently through the growing season with Miracle-Gro ® Shake ‘n Feed ® Tomato, Fruit & Vegetable Plant Food, following label instructions.
There is another method to plant– a method utilized by the hard-core. Excavate the soil 1 foot deep, include a 9-inch layer of fresh manure, and then cover that with 3 inches of soil blended with garden compost.
Because it creates a little heat as the manure garden composts, this develops a bed with a high-nitrogen soil base that is naturally warm.
In yet another approach, some gardeners plant melons atop their compost heap to guarantee a warm footing and appropriate nitrogen.
Melons require space to wander. Space plants 36 to 42 inches apart. Or, to conserve area, plant melons 12 inches apart at the base of a trellis.
When trellising melons, tie vines to the trellis daily, utilizing soft plant ties that will not squash stems. A trellis for cantaloupe need to be large: approximately 8 feet high and 20 feet wide in warmest environments. Wire fencing works well.
Trellising offers several benefits: Vines get much better air circulation than on the ground, which minimizes the possibilities of disease.
In northern zones, vines likewise get more sunshine when on a trellis that’s placed at a slant toward the sun.
You can likewise place a trellis against a brilliant reflective surface area, which increases the quantity of light reaching leaves and confuses melon aphids, who like to conceal on the shadowy undersides of leaves.
If you use a trellis, slow securely so gusty summer season winds don’t topple the vine-covered trellis.
After planting in spring you can cover plants with floating row covers to exclude pests and trap warm air near plants; this is crucial in cooler environments but works all over to keep specific insects off the plants.
In cool climates you can likewise set out a permeable black tarp or black landscape fabric over the location to help trap the sun’s heat. Simply plant through it (cut x-shaped slits).
Vines bear male and female flowers. Male flowers open initially, signed up with by female blooms about a week later.
Female flowers have a small swelling at the base of the flower. Get rid of row covers so bees can check out the flowers when vines begin to bear male and female flowers.
Tackle weeds before vines begin to run, because later on it will be difficult to step among vines without squashing them.
Mulching soil under vines slows and reduces weeds wetness evaporation from the soil. Naturally, if you planted in a black cover, that is already done.
Water may be the most crucial variable that you supply; melons need a consistent supply. Vines are most conscious dry spell during the time in between transplanting and when fruits begin to form.
Keep soil not waterlogged however regularly damp, which will eliminate plants. It’s typical for leaves to wilt under midday sun, but they shouldn’t stay wilted into the evening.
Avoid overhead watering if possible. Soaker hose pipes and drip irrigation provide water straight to the soil, preventing possible spread of fungus illness on wet foliage.
If you must utilize a sprinkler, then water vines extremely early in the early morning so that leaves can dry early, which helps prevent fungus illness.
For vines working on the ground, keep fruit from direct contact with soil to prevent rot and secure fruit from bugs. Location ripening fruit on mulch, upturned coffee cans, or flower pots.
Safeguard ripening fruits by covering them with plastic milk cages or similar boxes weighted down with a few bricks if big critters such as groundhogs find your melons.
An old garden expression recommends pinching off a vine’s growing shoots as melons begin to ripen to cause the plant to divert all its energy to the ripening fruit.
Anything that minimizes the overall number of leaves available for sugar production minimizes melon sweetness.
The more fruits that ripen at the very same time, the less sweet they’ll be, because the vine will have to divide the leaves’ sugar production between fruits.
In warmer environments with a long growing season, experienced growers often prune off all however one newly forming melon every 2 weeks.
Ripening 1 melon at a time yields maximum sweet taste. As you get experience, you’ll develop your own technique.
In colder areas, remove any blossoms that start to establish within 50 days of your location’s first average frost date. This makes sure remaining, larger fruits will ripen before frost.
The key to a sweet melon is lots of sugar, which is made by the leaves. So anything that injures the leaves likewise hurts the quality of the fruit.
Watch for fungi illness, which spread out rapidly. Alternaria leaf area and gummy stem blight produce areas on leaves, while stem blight likewise forms bleached or tan areas on stems and rot on fruit.
Downy mildew causes pale or yellow green leaf areas, while powdery mildew produces white areas on leaves. Treat fungi illness with fungicides.
Contact your local garden center or Extension agent to discover which fungicides are approved in your state and more about the illness you’re fighting.
Ambrosia cantaloupe is tolerant to powdery mildew. Melon aphids can rapidly colonize a vine, so inspect leaf undersides daily.
If you find aphids, treat them with insecticidal soap. Spotted and striped cucumber beetles can assault vines, sending bacterial wilt disease, which triggers vines to collapse.
Contaminated vines do not recuperate. Treat adult beetles with rotenone or a pyrethrum-based insecticide; apply at dusk to avoid damaging honey bees.
Harvest and Storage
Melons normally ripen over a short amount of time, up to 3 to 4 weeks for cantaloupes. As quickly as one melon is ripe, the others will not be far behind.
About a week prior to a melon is ripe, reduce watering to simply enough to keep vines from wilting. This lets vines concentrate sugars in the fruit.
Too much water dilutes the sugar and, of course, the sweetness. You can evaluate a cantaloupe’s ripeness by skin color and stem.
The rind of a cantaloupe modifications from gray-green to yellow-buff, and the netting pattern becomes more noticable.
At the stem, a crack appears that surrounds the base of the stem. A ripe melon ought to slip right off the vine. Cantaloupes likewise develop a musky smell that’s visible as you approach the melon patch.
The smooth-skinned honeydew melon ends up being cream colored when ripe, and the bloom end must provide somewhat when pushed.
Avoid pushing the bloom end repeatedly as you try to assess ripeness. Extreme pressing can cause bruising, which offers a false read on ripeness.
To collect a honeydew you do not prepare to utilize immediately, leave about an inch of stem connected to keep the melon from decaying.
When trellising melons, tie vines to the trellis daily, using soft plant ties that will not squash stems.
An old garden adage recommends pinching off a vine’s growing shoots as melons begin to ripen to cause the plant to divert all its energy to the ripening fruit.
About a week prior to a melon is ripe, lessen watering to simply enough to keep vines from wilting. A ripe melon ought to slip right off the vine.
Cantaloupes likewise develop a musky odor that’s visible as you approach the melon patch. The smooth-skinned honeydew melon ends up being cream colored when ripe, and the bloom end should give slightly when pressed.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Furrows are troughs that enable plants to be watered without wetting leaves. Wet leaves are more susceptible to fungi.
Cantaloupe grows in about 80 to 90 days. Melons are typically ready to harvest when they start turning yellow on the bottom and the stem starts turning brown.
A ripe cantaloupe skin will have velvety netting and a golden background. It ought to provide to light pressure and give off a fragrant aroma.
To prevent spoiling, ripe cantaloupe ought to be kept in the fridge. Entire ripe cantaloupe will keep about five days and cut cantaloupe will keep up to three days.