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Cantaloupe, also called sugar melon or muskmelon, are climbing vines that do well in hot, wet weather. They do not have to be staked, as they will move along the ground, but for best results, fruit should not touch the soil, as it encourages sogginess and rot, just like with tomatoes.
The cantaloupe is a juicy, orange summer fruit that's related to the watermelon and honeydew melon. It also belongs to the same plant family as cucumbers, pumpkins, squashes, and gourds.
Gardening Tips for Cantaloupes That Actually Work!
While full of flavor, the cantaloupe has a ton of amazing nutrients! It's loaded with vitamin A as well as vitamin C and is a good source of the mineral potassium.
Potassium helps with that balance of water between cells and body fluids making this a fruit gem for electrolytes.
Add in the fiber as well as moisture content? It aids your digestion and makes your skin look incredible.
It is amazing how sweet it is, considering it it relatively low in sugar with just 8 grams per serving.
Plant cantaloupe seeds 1.5 inches deep, 6 inches apart. Lightly water, and leave alone. Seedlings will come up in roughly two weeks. Putting up a 5 x 5 piece of fencing when you plant is recommended. These vines will grow fast, and they should be tied up or wrapped around fencing to keep them off the ground.
As the vines grow, small, yellow flowers will appear. This is where the sugar melon will emerge. First, these flowers must be germinated by a bee. Do not worry. They will find it without any help and remember not to scare them away, or you will not have enough germination to grow cantaloupes.
Once germinated, small green, oval-shaped balls will appear under the yellow flower. This flower falls off, and the ball grows rapidly into a melon. Weed regularly and like with tomatoes and onions, melons do best if sun and water are in equal parts. It should be watered lightly every day or heavily, every other day.
Cantaloupe often fall off the vine before they are ripe, wind, storms, and animals usually are the cause, and they can be ripened by putting in a sunny windowsill for a day or two.
Are you wondering when and how to pick your cantaloupe? It's harvest time in the garden. Or at least you think it might be. You've put in the labor, and those sweet luscious cantaloupes in your garden are looking yummy. Are they ripe? Can you pick cantaloupe before it's ripe? Will it ripen in a paper bag or in sunlight? When and how do you pick cantaloupe?
Cantaloupe Basic Facts
Seeds germinate in 4 to 10 days at 80°F (27°C) or warmer.
Totally a summer favorite, from June through August, cantaloupes are at their peak of flavor.
Like all melons, cantaloupes need high temperatures, germinating only when soil temperatures reach 60 to 65°F and ripening best when the air temperature is between 75 and 95°F.
One plant can produce up to 8 cantaloupes, but it depends on your area's conditions and the variety of cantaloupe you plant.
Cantaloupe can be eaten raw or cooked in something like a jam. Slice into a cleaned cantaloupe and remove the seeds. You can scoop out the fruit or peel the rind. Refrigerate the cut fruit, and eat it in 2-3 days.
Is your Cantaloupe Ripe?
How do you know if a cantaloupe is ripe for the picking? Cantaloupe planted in the spring is normally ripe sometime in August. A ripe cantaloupe has a nice cream color with a raised netting type pattern on the skin. A ripe melon will have a sweet smell. If you tap a ripe melon, it will sound hollow. When you pick cantaloupe, it should come off the vine readily.
Will they Ripen Off the Vine?
Some fruits, such as tomatoes, bananas, and pears, will ripen off the vine in a paper bag or in the sun. Cantaloupes do not ripen once off the vine. They may get softer once picked, but the sweetness and water content do not change. Therefore, cantaloupes and other melons should always be picked only when fully ripe.
Tips and Tricks
When harvesting any fruit or vegetable from the garden, I recommend you wear protective gloves and clothing. Avoid open-toed shoes that leave feet exposed to stray vines and branches. When navigating through melons, take care not to crush the vines. Doing so will inhibit the ripening of the remaining fruit. One way to avoid this is to plant in single, well-spaced, bordered rows.
How do you Pick cantaloupe?
You have determined that the cantaloupe are ripening on the vine. Now it's time to pick them. So how do you pick cantaloupe? Some melons must be cut from the vine to avoid cracking them.
Cantaloupe, or musk melon, as some call it, is a little different. When it's ready to be picked, it will pop right off the vine with a simple twist. If it won't do this, it's not ready.
When planting a garden, we often get carried away with the amount of food we plant. If you have more produce than you can eat, freeze, or can, never throw it away. There are plenty of food banks that can use it.
If you can't find a food bank, try asking friends and neighbors. Why waste good food in a world where people go to bed hungry every night? When picking cantaloupe, be sure it all goes to good use.
Easy Cantaloupe Recipe
While this gem can be sliced or diced and enjoyed raw by itself, it is an incredible addition to any fruit salad or mixed green salad. It is a pleasant ingredient for fruit salsa or even in a jam.
While we love it in a good smoothie and keep diced cantaloupe in our freezer - it makes a killer ice cream! Just check out this easy recipe we found for it: