How to Grow Cantaloupe Plants
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How to Grow, Plant, and Harvest Cantaloupe
On a hot summer day, there are few things as refreshing and satisfying as a sweet slice of cantaloupe fresh from the garden. While some people may instantly think of the large, juicy watermelon, the melon variety has gained popularity thanks to its versatility and numerous health benefits.
This melon comes from the plant Cucumis melo var. reticulatus - a fruit-bearing vine. The melon is easily recognized by the beige and irregular pattern that forms on the green skin, and the pulp of the orange is deliciously sweet.
These heat-loving plants are sometimes grown in the south from early spring or even fall. In slightly milder northern climates, they can be grown as an annual summer fruit. You can expect to have a harvest within three months of planting.
|Botanical Name||Cucumis. melo var. reticulatus|
|Common Name||Cantaloupe, rockmelon, muskmelon|
|Plant Type||Fruiting vine|
|Mature Size||Vine grows up to 18 in. tall and spreads up to 6 ft. The fruit usually weighs around 4 lbs.|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Loamy, sandy, well draining|
|Soil pH||Slightly acidic, neutral (6.0 to 6.5)|
|Hardiness Zones||5-11 (USDA)|
|Native Area||South Asia, Africa|
|Toxicity||Non-toxic, but rind is not edible|
How to Plant Cantaloupe
A good method of growing melons, squash, or zucchini is to plant them in a row of mounds. This will ensure proper drainage, as melons need a lot of water but don't like being in soggy soil.
Cantaloupe Plant Care
Cucumis melo needs full sun. If you don't have an area without at least eight hours of sunlight a day, melon may not be the best plant to grow.
Melon plants should have rich, loamy, well-draining soil that is neutral to slightly acidic. It is highly recommended to test the soil before planting to ensure a good quality harvest.
Too much nitrogen can produce an abundance of foliage and insufficient fruit. Soil lacking in magnesium can result in tasteless fruit. Test the soil again if the weather is especially humid. Too much rain during fruiting periods can also result in tasteless fruit.
Ensuring that your melon plant receives the correct amount of water at the right time will be one of the most important things in ensuring a healthy and succulent harvest.
As plants grow, flower, and fruit, they need two gallons of water a week. It is preferable to water in the morning to allow the leaves to dry in the afternoon to prevent mold or fungus from developing.
As the fruit grows, decrease the watering. Warm, dry conditions in the final stages of ripening produce the sweetest melons.
Temperature and humidity
Temperatures that consistently hover between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the growing season will produce the best crop. The plant does not tolerate frost and temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit can cause flowers to drop and a poor fruit harvest.
Melons prefer higher humidity in their early growth phase, before dropping slightly to around 60 to 70 percent during the flowering and fruit development stages.
Feeding is not recommended until a soil test is done. Too much nitrogen can lead to the spread of leafy vines instead of good fruit production.
It is common practice to add composted manure at planting and then a balanced organic fertilizer (such as a fish emulsion) every few weeks.
Are Cantaloupe Melons Toxic?
The melon is not toxic: the fruit is edible except for the skin. This is due to its hard texture and, more importantly, the presence of bacteria and mold. Before eating, rub the skin very well while washing.
During the summer of 1941 in Peoria, Illinois, the fungus was discovered in cantaloupe in such large quantities that scientists were able to modify it and mass-produce penicillin for the first time. This happened just in time for World War II, allowing millions of units of antibiotics to be shipped for use in the war effort.
Cantaloupe vs. Muskmelon
The melon people in North America know as the cantaloupe is also often referred to as the muskmelon. More accurately, however, the term muskmelon refers to any Cucumis melo species.
There are two Cucumis melo muskmelon varieties referred to as cantaloupes. The North American variety (Cucumismelo var. reticulatus) and the European variety (C. melo var. cantalupensis). The net-like pattern on the rind distinguishes the North American cantaloupe, and it has a subtler flavor than the European type. Plus, the European cantaloupe is rarely produced or sold in this hemisphere.
Harvesting Cantaloupe Melons
You can expect a harvest from your melon plant between 35 and 40 days after flowering, depending on weather conditions. Watch for signs that the fruit is ready to be picked and don't wait for it to fall off the vine.
The skin turns greenish-beige, the web becomes rough and dry, and the tendrils near the fruit turn brown and dry. Gently twist the fruit off the stem. If it doesn't come off easily, let it ripen a bit longer.
Melons generally weigh 3-4 pounds when ripe, but some cultivars have been known to weigh up to 20 pounds!
Melon flowers require pollination to bear fruit. Cucumis melo is a monoecious plant, so it produces separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The vine will begin to produce male flowers several weeks before the females appear. males will not prick
When fruit production begins, it may seem counterproductive, but cut new flowers at the tip of the vine. This will decrease production but will increase the size and flavor of the fruit already on the vine.
If your plants are not bearing fruit, you can always pollinate manually. Remove a male flower from the vine. Remove the petals that reveal the stamen. Insert the stamen into a female flower and gently shake the stamen on the stigma, covering it with pollen.
Melons can be grown from seed or starters. If you live in a cooler area, entrances are recommended. Starting with established plants will extend the growing season and give them a head start.
Of course, starting the seed indoors is also an option. This should be done four to six weeks before the first frost to allow enough time for germination and emergence. Seedlings should not be transplanted until all the dangers of ice are gone and the soil temperature is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the lucky ones in areas with longer growing seasons and warmer climates, seeds can be sown directly when the frost conditions and temperatures listed above are met.
Plant seeds and starters 1 inch deep and 18-24 inches apart. Depending on the amount of space, a trellis system may be needed to aid climbing up the vine. Once the seeds or starters are planted, mulch is recommended to help keep the soil moist and fight weeds.
Enjoy This Video Tutorial About BEST TIPS for growing CANTALOUPE
Source: Growing In The Garden
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