PLANTING, GROWING, AND HARVESTING CANTALOUPES

PLANTING, GROWING, AND HARVESTING CANTALOUPES

The muskmelon cultural and growing requirements are very similar to other melons and they have a net-like, tan rind, with sweet orange flesh. The names muskmelon and cantaloupe are used interchangeably.

These sun-ripened fruits pack plenty of vitamin C and antioxidants into every bite, combining great taste with great nutrition. For vines running on the ground, keep fruit from direct contact with soil to prevent rot and protect fruit from pests. Place ripening fruit on mulch, upturned coffee cans, or flower pots. If large critters such as hedgehogs discover your melons, protect ripening fruits by covering them with plastic milk crates or similar boxes weighted down with a few bricks.

Water may be the most important variable that you supply; melons need a steady supply. Vines are most sensitive to drought during the time between transplanting and when fruits start to form. Keep soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, which will kill plants. It’s typical for leaves to wilt under midday sun, but they shouldn’t remain wilted into the evening. If possible, avoid overhead watering. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation deliver water directly to the soil, preventing possible spread of fungus diseases on wet foliage. If you must use a sprinkler, then water vines very early in the morning so that leaves can dry early, which helps prevent fungus diseases.

The more fruits that ripen at the same time, the less sweet they’ll be, since the vine will have to divide the leaves’ sugar production between fruits. In warmer climates with a long growing season, experienced growers often prune off all but one newly forming melon every 2 weeks. Ripening 1 melon at a time yields maximum sweetness.

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Planting

  • Amend soil with aged manure or compost before planting.
  • Grow the vines in raised rows.This will ensure good drainage and will hold the sun’s heat longer.
  • If you are in a cooler zone, start seeds indoors about a month before transplanting. Cantaloupe vines are very tender and should not be transplanted until all danger of frost has passed.
  • If you live in warmer climates, you can direct sow seeds outdoors, but wait until the soil temperature warms to at least 65 degrees to avoid poor germination.
  • If you have limited space, vines can be trained to a support, such as a trellis.
  • Mulching with black plastic will serve multiple purposes: it will warm the soil, hinder weed growth, and keep developing fruits clean.
  • Fertilize when vines start growing.

Pests/Diseases

Harvest/Storage

  • When rinds begin to change from green to tan or yellow, the melon is probably ripe, but be careful not to pick too early.
  • Look for a crack in the stem where it attaches to the fruit. This is a sign of ripeness as well. The fruit should be easy to separate from the vine, but if they fall off by themselves they are usually overripe.
  • Harvest melon when vines are dry, and be careful not to damage them.
  • They will soften after harvesting, but will not continue to sweeten off the vine.
  • Cantaloupe can be stored uncut for 5 or 6 days. If cut, they can last in the refrigerator for about 3 days, wrapped tightly in plastic or aluminum foil.
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Health benefits

  • Cantaloupe controls blood pressure.
  • Helps in weight loss.
  • It is cholesterol free.
  • Improves eye vision.
  • Has a lot of water hence relieves constipation.
  • Helps in preventing cancer.
  • Prevents kidney stones.
  • Boosts immunity.
  • Regulates blood sugar levels.

 

 

 

 

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