How to Grow Melons (stub)

[stub]

Botanical Information

Taxonomy

Muskmelons: Cucumus melo Reticulatus Group

History

Physical Description

Varieties & Cultivars

Categories or Types of Melons

  • Muskmelons
    • Netted Melons
    • American Cantaloupe
  • Winter Melons (Inodorus Group)
    • Smooth Melons
    • honeydew
    • casaba
  • True Cantaloupes (European Cantaloupe, French Cantaloupe)
    • Charantais
  • Watermelons

Colors Available

Varieties (link to ../category/cultivars/tag/Melons)

Growth Requirements

Climate & Temperature Requirements

Air Temperature

  • 65°F – 75°F
  • Melons ripen with heat – minimum temperature: 65°F
  • Melons require 120 frost-free days, if started in the ground
    • Smooth types (Winter Melons) take the longest time to ripen
  • Watermelon takes at least 70-75 warm days (AEGP)
  • Watermelons need at least 77-86°F and 70 frost-free days to ripen
  • Melons need 3 months of hot weather

Germination Temperature

  • 75°F – 95°F

Humidity

Day Length or Light Requirements

Site Conditions Favored

Soil Requirements

Soil Texture

pH

  • 6.0-6.5

Nutrient Requirements

  • Heavy feeder: before planting, work in compost or rotted manure
  • side-dressing: apply balanced fertilizer or compost when vines are 12″-18″ long and again when fruits form

Propagation

Methods of propagation

Seed

  • can be sown directly outside, but better germination will come from indoors

Division

Cuttings

Transplanting or Potting Up

  • Melons don’t like their roots to be messed with, so don’t pot up if you started seeds indoors; just transplant directly into garden at the 3 true leaf stage

Seed Saving

Planting Out

Melon seedlings are ready to be planted out when they have 3 true leaves

Bed Prep & Soil Amendments

Bed Spacing

  • 2 feet apart

Row Spacing

  • 4-8 feet apart in rows 5-7 feet apart

Planting Depth

Alternative Bed Methods

Biointensive Method:

Space melons 15″ apart, all directions, in an off-center grid

Container Gardening

Routine Cultivation & Maintenance

Water Requirements

  • Don’t water too close to the stem – can cause rot. Build up a little earth around the stems to keep water away
  • Melons need a steady but not overwhelming supply of water for good growth; monitor soil moisture and water whenever the top 4″ dries out, or if the plants begin to wilt before noon (afternoon wilting on hot days is not cause for alarm).
  • water deeply
  • Count days on seed packet to know when the melons are getting close to ripe; when you are 2 weeks to ripe, start withholding water – water just enough to keep the vines healthy – this last 2 weeks is when the flavor develops (less water = sweeter melon)
  • Water regularly until 3 weeks before harvest, then lessen water to harvest – stop watering altogether after you harvest

Fertilization Recommendations

  • side-dressing: apply balanced fertilizer or compost when vines are 12″-18″ long and again when fruits form

Mulching & Weeding

Pinching or Pruning & Dividing

  • Encourage side shoots by pinching out the growing end when seedlings have three leaves – then when the new side shoots have three leaves, pinch out the central growing area again
  • Once vines have set 3 or 4 fruit, remove new blossoms
  • When fruits begin to form, pinch back the vine to two leaves beyond the fruit (A-Z)
  • One month before your first fall frost, pinch off all buds & tiny melons so the larger ones will get ripe before frost

Support

  • Use an A-frame trellis to grow vines vertically
  • When melon is fist-sized, set on large stone or straw to keep them dry & bug free

Companion Planting

Helpful Companions

Nasturtiums

Harmful Companions

Companion to..

Pests, Diseases & Problems

Common Pests

Common Diseases

Symptoms

Whole Plant

Leaves

Stem/Trunk

Flowers

Fruit

Roots

Harvesting & Storage

Edible Parts of the Plant

  • Flowers
  • Fruit
  • Seeds
    • China: watermelon seeds are enjoyed roasted
    • Hopi: use the oil from watermelon seeds

Yield

  • Plan on growing 10.8 lbs of cantaloupe for every person
  • My 2012 crop of 15 plants produced 126 lbs (8.4 lbs per plant); of these 15 plants, cantaloupes accounted for most of the harvest: 8 cantaloupe plants produced 72 lbs, or 9 lbs per plant. I used the 2-plant per mound, 3 feet apart spacing
  • Biointensive Method: 84 plants at 15″ spacing in 100 square foot bed
    • Beginner’s yield: 50 lbs (10 oz per plant)
    • Intermediate-level grower’s yield: 72 lbs (14 oz per plant)
    • Advanced-level grower’s yield: 145 lbs (1.75 lb per plant)

Days to Harvest / Harvest Timing

Melons, in General

  • Melons are ready for harvesting in August & September
  • Seed to harvest: 12-20 weeks
  • Ready to pick in late summer & early autumn
  • Ripe fruits are sweet-smelling
  • Harvest when outer skin begins to change color and when blossom end begins to soften

Netted Melons (Muskmelons, American Cantaloupe)

  • Netted melons do not ripen further after being picked (TKG), but this is okay because they essentially pick themselves by detaching, or “slipping”, from the vine when they are ripe
  • You will notice the stem detaching, then you just need to use a little pressure from your thumb to disconnect it when it’s ready to be picked
  • there should be a strong melon scent when ripe
  • The netting pattern also becomes more prominent when ripe
  • Muskmelons ripen from green to yellow or tan
  • Stems will become brittle or shriveled and easily pull from vine

Smooth Melons

Smooth melons ripen a bit after picking, but they don’t slip, so you have to judge ripeness by their scent at the blossom end – should be sweet smelling

True Cantaloupes (European Cantaloupe, French Cantaloupe)

  • True cantaloupes are ripe when the 1st leaf above the fruit stem turns pale
  • Sometimes there will be a small crack on the melon close to the stem
  • True cantaloupes don’t ripen further when picked
  • Pick “at leaf turn”, which is when the 1st small leaf at the end of the stem next to the melon fades from green to pale tan

Watermelons

  • Watermelon takes at least 70-75 warm days
  • Watermelons are harvested 10-14 weeks (70-98 days) from sowing
  • Watch for the skin to turn dull & resists piercing by a fingernail
  • Watermelons need at least 77-86°F and 70 frost-free days to ripen
  • Ripe watermelons give a hollow sound when tapped
  • The tendril at the base of the stem where the melon attaches to the vine will dry up & turn brown when ripe
  • There are several ways to recognize a mature watermelon: VG
    • look at the stem near the melon for tendrils that have turned brown
    • dark yellow coloring where the melon is resting on the ground
    • a dull thud sound after you flick it with your thumb and middle finger. 

Harvest Methods

  • Netted melons slip readily (detach) from the stem when ripe; just a little pressure from your thumb will detach it when ripe
  • Separate melons gently from the stalk (don’t tug, cut)
  • twist melon with one hand while holding stem with the other hand; if it resists parting, the melon isn’t ripe

Storage of harvest

Fresh

  • Eat melons ASAP after picking, since they don’t keep well
  • Ripe melons can store for 2 weeks in the refrigerator
  • Watermelons:
    • may be stored 14-20 days at 50-54°F
  • Other melons:
    • can store for 14-50 days at 50-59°F, depending on cultivar

Canned

Frozen

Pickled

Dried

Cooking

Nutritional Benefits & Values

Toxicity

Cooking

Preparation

Cooking Methods

Recipes (link to …/category/recipes/tag/Melons)

Resources

Information for this article was taken from these sources. (link to …/category/resources/tag/Melons)

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