CANTALOUPE

Cantaloupes (muskmelon) and other melons in the cucurbit family need an abundance of sunshine and warm weather. Ideally they prefer a loamy soil, though a sandy soil is great so long as you provide plenty of water and fertilizer.

You can plant the seeds directly into the garden after waiting until at least 2 weeks past your area's freeze date. You can start seedlings indoors 2-3 weeks before planting, but don't wait too long to plant them because larger plants don't transplant well and they'll also find it difficult to set fruit.

Most commonly cantaloupes are grown in hills with 2-3 plants per hill, with the hills spaced 4' to 6' apart. Use an organic mulch in the entire growing area to prevent the fruit from contact with the dirt for healthier and better looking fruit. Mulch will help keep the area weed free, which is a tremendous help since it's difficult to wade through the vines to pull weeds.

    

Cantaloupe Bread is a delicious way to use your extra fruit

Cantaloupes can also be grown on a trellis to save room in the garden. Use something durable and strong because the vines and fruit are heavy. You can use old hosiery or those netted bags that contain potatoes and onions; gently place the melon in the bag and tie it securely to the trellis.

The plant will set multiple fruits per vine initially, then most will shrivel away to send the nutrients back into the plant, so don't be alarmed by this event. Wait 2 weeks then fertilize the plant for a boost.

I've had great success with saving seeds from melons bought at the farmer's market. This is an ideal way to try new varieties!

Muskmelons detach themselves from the vine when the fruit is ripe.

Beware the invasion of squash bugs and cucumber beetles! Try some of these COMPANION PLANTS to help your cantaloupes:(try growing them in pots that you can move around in your garden)

  • Nasturtium
  • Tansy
  • Catnip
  • Dill
  • Corn