Enjoying melons in the summer is something very extraordinary. But of course, the best melons can only be produced by planting your own melon tree.
Let me tell you how to grow it. In order to grow a melon, you need the right combination of sunlight and water, plus, something that’s a little harder to control: bee pollination.
Fresh fruit screams summer. Cantaloupe is the perfect addition to any edible garden. This sweet member of the melon family can be grown at home with tender care and a little luck. Here are foolproof techniques to get you started.
The Basics of Planting
Plant cantaloupes in full sun in well-drained soil. Cantaloupe plants need about 85 days to mature but don’t rush planting. Sow seeds only when temperatures reliably stay above 50 to 60 degrees F.
Plant in groups of two or three seeds spaced 2 feet apart. Once seedlings emerge, keep only the strongest individual plant in each group, pulling the rest.
Melons are sensitive to transplanting. If you want to grow cantaloupe, start the seeds indoors in pots many weeks in advance of your last frost date. Otherwise, the vines might be stunted and the melons will not grow.
Get rid of weeds as soon as you see them, but don’t disturb the cantaloupe plants.
Cantaloupes need about 1 to 2 inches of rain per week. If you don’t receive that much rain weekly, water deeply but infrequently to reach that amount.
As the fruit grows, gradually reduce and stop watering because too much water can cause the rind to split. Too much water can also dilute the sugar content of the fruit.
Pollination and Growing Cantaloupe
One of the most challenging issues that you will face when growing cantaloupes is that they may not produce fruit. This can be extremely frustrating because it seems like there’s nothing wrong, but the plant will simply not grow the fruit. To fix this issue, you must know why it’s happening.
You may wonder how to tell the difference between male and female cantaloupes. Female flowers grow first, but they need bees to carry pollen in order to set fruit. If you don’t have enough bees, your female flowers won’t produce fruit.
The right solution to make pollination even and produce enough fruit is to do manual pollination.
Fertilizer can also affect the fruit set if too much of it is used.
In the summertime, vines often produce only male flowers. Since they don’t produce fruit, these flowers aren’t of any use.
How to Tell If a Vine-Grown Cantaloupe Is Ripe?
The cantaloupe ripens 35 to 45 days after pollination, depending on weather conditions. When it is ready, the outside becomes rough and the tendrils near the fruit turn brown and dry.
Harvest fruit when it’s ripe. Don’t wait to see if it falls off the vine. Look for signs that it is ready to be picked (such as a change in color).
Gently twist the fruit from the vine and it should come away without issue. If not, leave it to ripen for a few more days. Cantaloupes cannot be ripened after they have been harvested and removed from the vine.
Grocery stores sell cantaloupes with stems still attached. Those cantaloupes were probably harvested too early and they won’t be very sweet.
Cantaloupes can be stored at 45-50 degrees for up to two weeks.