Nurture This Delicate, Summer-Weather Fruit In Your Garden
Subspecies: Cucumis melo
Cantaloupe, sometimes called muskmelon, is a tender, warm season melon. Most North American varieties of cantaloupe have a somewhat musky smell; hence muskmelon.
Cantaloupe originated in South Asia and was grown by the early settlers.
Growing cantaloupe can be a fun addition to your garden. Read on for our full guide on how to grow cantaloupe.
Cantaloupe should be propagated by seed and need a soil temp of 60° – 85° to germinate.
Seedling will emerge in about 3 – 5 days in soil at the warmer end of the range. Melons do well in full sun with well drained soils, and can be either direct seeded or transplanted. Transplanting should be considered due to the extra sunlight availability earlier into the season but extra care should be taken not to damage the roots while transplanting.
Harden the plants by gradually exposing to outdoor conditions. Move to final planting area in late spring after last frost. Try to transplant on a cloudy day to minimize wilting and reduce stress to the seedling.
There are great benefits when using black plastic mulch and a controlled drip irrigation system. The black plastic heats the soil in the spring enhancing plant growth while keeping weeds to a minimum. In the summer it keeps the soil moist and protects the plants from sudden heavy rain that can damage the crop.
Cantaloupe have deep roots, so water gradually with 1 inch of water per week. Allow the water to saturate the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Water melons first thing in the morning or early in the afternoon so foliage will dry by evening to prevent the leaf diseases from spreading. Cut down on watering later in the summer to help fruit mature. Late in the season the root systems will have spread farther and can tolerate drier soil.
Maverick is a popular variety it had round to slightly oval fruits that grow to 3 1/2 – 4 lbs. It is considered one of the sweetest tasting cantaloupes. Fruit is smaller, sweeter and easier to manage than some of the more commonly cultivated varieties.
Other varieties to consider:
Ambrosia which is considered very sweet; Iroquois which has a very strong flavor, and Bush Star, a compact variety that grows well in small areas.
Squash bugs and squash vine borers can do considerable damage to cantaloupes if left untreated. Striped cucumber beetles spread disease as well as cause plant damage.