There are fewer things nicer in my summer kitchen than sun-ripened melons filled with vanilla ice cream. I don’t care whether we’re talking muskmelon or cantaloupe, I’m a big fan.
When to Plant
For early and reliable crops in zones 5 and colder, sow inside the middle of April to the beginning of May. Sow two to three seeds to a 10 cm pot and plan on thinning to the strongest seed when the vines get 10 to 12 cm tall.
You *must* have warm soil to germinate melons. Use 70F/ 21 C and you’ll find the seed will germinate within 10 days.
Cool soil will rot the seed.
The next step, after all danger of frost has disappeared is to harden off the seedlings.
Where to Plant
Full sun in your best soil. Well-drained and fertile.
How to Plant For A Massive Crop
- Lay black plastic onto the planting area two weeks before you want to transplant.
- Move the plants to the garden In the middle of June, make a slit in the plastic, carefully take the plant out of the pot and plant in the now-warm soil.
- Leave the plastic in place until mid-summer when it should be removed as it will begin to heat up the soil too much for good crops.
- If you have a heat retaining cover such as Remay (TM Symbol) you can lay it over the plants and tuck the edges down so it doesn’t flap about.
- Remove it when the plants start to produce flowers to allow bees to pollinate your melons. And do watch for birds that get trapped under the row-cover, they can make a mess of things (and it will happen.)
- Having said all that, you can sow the seed outdoors in mid-June but understand that cool seasons will slow germination and fruit production drastically unless you live in a much warmer gardening area than my zone 5.
Care & Maintenance
Vine roots are very shallow so any cultivating has to be done carefully. And never move the vines as they really resent being moved about and will respond by wilting and sometimes simply dying.
Do not allow this plant to be water stressed during the growth or fruiting season. Stressed plants either don’t produce fruit or the fruit is bitter.
How To Tell When It’s Ripe Enough To Eat
You’ll find that a gentle pressure on the fruit at the base of the stem will disengage the ripe fruit and this is the easiest way to tell.
Do not disturb the vines if you can avoid it while testing for ripeness.
(all numbers rounded out)
1/4 inch = .6 cm
1/2 inch = 1.3 cm
1 inch = 2.5 cm
6 inch = 15 cm
12 inch = 30 cm
18 inch = 45 cm
36 inch = 91 cm
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