Planting should commence in the spring, when the soil temperature is
65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Soil should be
turned with the previous crop residues buried at least two to three
weeks prior to planting. This will allow sufficient time for these
residues to decompose.
Plant seeds about
1 inch deep. Sow about 3 to 6 seeds per foot.
Your rows should be approximately 50 to 70
After emergence, thin down to about 1 plant
After the seedlings have developed their third set of leaves
they should be thinned to three plants per hill. Remove weeds as they grow, and hoe
lightly to avoid disturbing the shallow root system of the
Layer the ground around the plants with Mulch to cut
back on weed growth, increase soil moisture, and keep the soil
Some growers prefer to use
transplants from as a way of obtaining early melons. When
growing transplants, seed 2 to 4 weeks ahead of transplanting
date. Commercial potting mixes work well since the growing
medium must be sterile and drain freely. The diameter of
transplant containers can range between 1.5 to 4 inches, with 3
inches being optimum for early production.
Many Gardeners sometimes wonder why the earliest Melon blossoms
do not set fruit. The first flowers developing on the vines are
male or pollen-bearing flowers. Only the female flowers are
capable of developing into fruit.
Irrigation prior to and after planting should be applied to
ensure seed germination and emergence Drip irrigation provides
the plants with a more uniform application of water, placing it
near the root zone and using less water. Drip irrigation also
minimizes the amount of foliage and fruit disease compared with
overhead irrigation . Drip Irrigation does not interfere
with honeybees and subsequent pollination and fertilization.
For larger plantings - Drip systems can be
easily adapted for the injection of fertilizer. This allows
plant nutrients to be supplied to the field as needed.
When setting out transplants, apply a common
such as 20-20-20 . Medium-textured soils (loams) will generally
produce higher yields and better quality melons. In all
cases the soil must exhibit good internal and surface
drainage. Mulching is also recommended to help control
weeds and maintain adequate soil moisture. Studies have
shown that plants that are mulched grow faster and healthier
than those that are not.
The optimal Soil
pH range is 5.5 -7.0. See
Soil pH for more extensive information.
Many cultivars produce
excessive vine growth. Pruning the vines is
necessary only if the melons are to be trellised,
optional otherwise. Pruning is
performed to achieve a balance between vine growth and fruit set, it
increases fruit weight while reducing the number of undesirable melons.
Melon vines produce a primary
stem with many secondary branches [laterals]. A suitable pruning
treatment for cantaloupes and muskmelons is to retain the primary stem
and one of the first laterals while pruning all additional laterals up
to and including the 6 -7th leaf node. All secondary branches after the
eighth node can be left unpruned on the plant. This method of pruning
permits the vine to be easily trellised either by a net trellis or by
using strings and vine clips.
Pruning Made Easy: A gardener's visual guide to when and how to prune everything, from flowers to trees (Storey's Gardening Skills Illustrated)
Common Canteloupe Varieties
The following are my personal favorites, you of course may prefer to scan
any of the many online
nurseries and seed catalogs.
Honey Rock Cantaloupe
Plant produces sweet deep salmon flesh cantaloupes. This
plant produces 5 to 7 cantaloupes which are incredibly sweet. Perfect
for backyard home gardens . 82 days.
Hales Jumbo Cantaloupe
Heirloom melon known for sweet, juicy flavor.
Cantaloupe 'Park's Whopper' Hybrid
77 days from setting out transplants or 91 days for direct sow. Now you
can grow enormous 6- to 8-pound melons with great flesh firmness and a
juicy-sweet taste -
Cantaloupe Ambrosia Hybrid
Salmon-Red Extra-Sweet that Everybody Loves! Small seed cavity means
even more juicy-tender flesh! 86 days from setting out transplants or
100 days for direct sow.
Japanese Netted Melon
It is round and weighs over 3 pounds. The outer skin is green
color with a fine net. The thick and juicy green flesh has a brix
sweetness of over 16%. Its sugar content will continue to rise
regardless of the weather
Seed & Nursery Catalogs
Aphids: Generally, aphids are
green and are less mobile than leafhoppers. They feed on the
undersides of the youngest leaves and on tender shoots [Image].
Aphids reproduce very rapidly and can literally cover stems and
leaves. The sap loss is a concern when the plants are young— the
first three years. Most aphids can be controlled by
ladybugs and other natural enemies. [Insecticides kill these
natural enemies along with the pests.]
A tropical insect which
routinely survives the winter only in deep southern regions of the
United States and further south (adios amigo) North Carolina and South
Carolina are regular hosts of the pickleworm, but often this usually
doesn't occur until early Autumn. It takes some time for the varmints to
hitch a ride north. [Pickleworm
Moth - Image]. Pyrethrin
is effective against Pickleworms.
Seed Corn Maggot
[Images] populations vary greatly depending on
environmental conditions , take precautions prior to planting to
keep damage from this insect to a minimum. Otherwise, this
critter will probably not be detected until seeds and seedlings
Plant in a seedbed only deep enough for adequate soil moisture.
Spider Mites are a close relatives of spiders and ticks.
Several species are plant pests. They are also commonly known as red
spiders Most are about the size of the period following this sentence .
Adult mites have four pairs of legs and no antennae. They use a pair of
needle-like stylets to rupture leaf cells when they feed . Because they
are nearly microscopic and difficult to see, spider mite problems are
often misdiagnosed . Several commercial
Cucumber Beetles There
are two different forms of this pest. The striped form
, and it's cousin the spotted cucumber beetle
(A/K/A southern corn rootworm) is basically identical except that it
features a dozen black spots instead of stripes. (Another well-known
family member is the corn rootworm.)
are effective controls of Cucumber beetles.
Sharpshooter Natural Insecticide
- Citric acid destroys the wax coating of the insect's respiratory system.
When applied directly, the insect suffocates. Sharpshooter is biodegradable. Effective on most insects including aphids,
beetles, caterpillars, cutworms, earwigs, flies, gnats...
Hot Pepper Wax
repels bugs. 100% natural spray
uses pepper extract and wax to effectively discourage pests.
for more extensive data
Diseases of Cantaloupe and Muskmelons
Alternaria Leaf Spot
serious damage under long periods of wet weather. The occurrence of this
disease is sporadic but can be devastating if left unchecked.
The disease causes tiny brown spots that enlarge on the leaves, causing
a target spot with concentric rings. Older lesions will develop a dark
color in the concentric pattern . The dark color is caused by spore
production, which can cause new infection sites if no protective
measures are taken.
will suppress Alternaria leaf spot. No resistant cultivars are
The anthracnose fungus causes dark
brown, oval sunken areas or spots on stems. It also causes the crown
to rot, which causes young leaves to wilt. The fungus can be
carried on apparently healthy plants. Therefore, be sure
to use healthy certified plants for transplanting. Avoiding
excess moisture during the summer will help decrease the
severity of this disease. Anthracnose cannot be adequately
by fungicides. [Image]
A Fungus which causes rapid wilt with browning or reddening of
leaves on individual branches, often followed by death of the entire
plant as the fungus spreads to the plant base. Most
infections can be traced to a wound as the initial point of
During mid-summer foliage is covered by a
web-like fungus growth called mycelium. As a result, leaves become
puckered . In late summer, circular reddish-brown spots 1/8 to 1/4
inch in diameter appear on the top and underside of the leaves.
Conidiophores grow from the mycelium and spread the disease
throughout the field. During the late summer and autumn, small round
black fruiting bodies [cleistothecia] 1/32 to1/16 inch in diameter
develop on the surface of the fungal growth on the leaves. The
cleistothecia are a means of over wintering by the fungus. All
cultivars are susceptible to powdery mildew. Jersey cultivar is the
most susceptible. [Image]
Cantaloupes are usually harvested at what is known as "three-
quarters-" to "full slip."
At three-quarters slip, cantaloupes will slip easily from their
stem. Smaller fruits should be pinched off the stem as the
season closes to encourage the ripening of the larger fruits.
The growing points of all the vines should also be pinched off
at this time. one-fourth of the stem usually adheres and breaks
rather than slipping free.
To avoid over-ripening, harvest cantaloupes before they
naturally separate from the vine. The best way to check maturity
of cantaloupes is to place your thumb beside the stem and gently
apply pressure to the side. If the stem separates easily, the
cantaloupe is ripe.
Cantaloupes mature in 80 to 110 days depending on the variety
and growing conditions. Sugar content is the primary measure of
maturity and quality. Sugar content does not increase once the
melon has been removed from the vine.