Cantaloupe, Hales Best Jumbo
HEIRLOOM. This muskmelon became widely popular because it combined excellent flavor with earliness.
Days To Maturity
After Last Frost
How to Sow and Plant
Sowing Seed Indoors:
- Direct sowing is recommended, but to get a head start you can start honeydew indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost in individual biodegradable pots indoors. Sow 2-3 seeds per pot.
- Sow seeds ½ inches deep in seed-starting formula
- Keep the soil moist at 70 degrees F
- Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days
- As soon as seedlings emerge, provide plenty of light on a sunny windowsill or grow seedlings 3-4 inches beneath fluorescent plant lights turned on 16 hours per day, off for 8 hours at night. Raise the lights as the plants grow taller. Incandescent bulbs will not work for this process because they will get too hot. Most plants require a dark period to grow, do not leave lights on for 24 hours.
- Seedlings do not need much fertilizer, feed when they are 3-4 weeks old using a starter solution (half strength of a complete indoor houseplant food) according to manufacturer’s directions.
- Thin to one plant per pot.
- Before planting in the garden, seedling plants need to be “hardened off”. Accustom young plants to outdoor conditions by moving them to a sheltered place outside for a week. Be sure to protect them from wind and hot sun at first. If frost threatens at night, cover or bring containers indoors, then take them out again in the morning. This hardening off process toughens the plant’s cell structure and reduces transplant shock and scalding.
Sowing Directly in the Garden
- Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 8 inches. Level with a rake to remove clumps of grass and stones.
- Sow in fertile, warm soil after danger of frost has passed.
- Sow seeds 3 inches apart in groups of 4-6. Cover with ½ inch of fine soil.
- Space groups 4-6 feet apart each way.
- Keep evenly moist.
- Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days.
- Thin to 3 or 4 strongest seedlings in each group when they are 1-2 inches high.
How to Grow
- Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.
- Melons have a shallow root system, mulches help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures.
- Keep plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. Plants need about 1-2 inches of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water. It's best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
- As plants grow mulch to control weeds, keep fruits off the ground and conserve moisture
- Do not move the vines, they are easily injured.
- To prevent diseases keep melons off the ground.
- Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
Harvest & Preserving
- Allow your melons to ripen on the vine. In general fruits are ripe when they smell aromatic and when stems start to crack and the fruit slips off easily with light pressure from your thumb.
- Generally, fruits are ripe when they smell fruity.
- Harvest cantaloupes when the fruits change from green to yellow or tan and they break away easily from the vine.
- Harvest winter melons when they turn the appropriate color and their blossom ends are soft.
- Honeydew melons are ripe when the skin turns to a creamy yellow color and the blossom end is slightly soft. To avoid damage cut the honeydew off the vine with sharp shears.
- Watermelons are ready to harvest when their undersides turn from white to a creamy yellow. The tendrils closest to the fruit will also turn brown and dry up and the skin will become dull and hard at harvest time.
- For best flavor eat at room temperature.
- Melons may be stored in the refrigerator for a short time. They will lose their flavor and color if stored too long.
Days To Maturity80 daysFruit Weight3-4 poundsSunFull SunSpread3-6 feetHeight15-18 inchesSow MethodDirect SowPlanting TimeSummerSow TimeAfter Last FrostThin36 inchesLife CycleAnnual
Cantaloupe, Hales Best Jumbo is rated out of 5 by 8.Rated 4 out of 5 by Wryter from Hale's Best always reliable Here in Kingman, AZ we are at 3500' but we have a long, warm (often hot) growing season, perpetual drought and high winds. Fortunately, melons like it hot and most it seems don't mind dry. We've grown Hale's Best every year for the past six years and while it's productivity varies with conditions, it always does produce. It is my wife's favorite for flavor and I have to say that when they turn gold and slip from the vine they are hard to resist. The aroma alone is outstanding. One tip I would add for all melons is do not top water them. Hale's Best is susceptible to fusarium wilt, which I learned the hard way. That, along with the fact that my personal favorite cantaloupe is an heirloom called "Kansas" is why I only gave Hale's Best four stars.Date published: 2014-08-30Rated 3 out of 5 by GrowUrOwn from Ok, not Great I grew 4 plants from seed and they grew very well, each plant produced an abundance of fruit, about 5 or 6 each. The melons were ok but not as sweet as I have had in the past but this could be due to our uncommonly cool temperatures this year and the large amount of rain that we have had. Generally to get the sweetest melons stop watering a week or so before time for picking. This just wasn't possible this year. I am highly satisfied with production, and the size of each melon exceeds 5 or pounds. The melons just seem a bit bland to me this year and as I stated earlier, it could be due to the cooler temps and wetter summer that we have had. I have decided to grow Ambrosia next year in place of Hale's Best.Date published: 2013-08-02Rated 2 out of 5 by CaitlinsCrops from Slow Start I started these seeds about 6 weeks ago and they haven't 'taken off' yet. Germination was poor, at about 50%. They are very small compared to my watermelon and honey dew plants. I hope they do better over the next few months. I will report back on the growing and quality of fruit.Date published: 2013-06-29Rated 2 out of 5 by GardeningInFlorida from No Luck Big bushy nice plants , tons of flowers, but no fruit. Will no Try againDate published: 2012-05-18Rated 1 out of 5 by Hakker from Toamtoes and peppers I was a little disappointed when I recieved the plants as they were in very poor condition. They were extremely limp. I planted them and they did survive, but have been extremely slow growing and in fact do not seem as if they will amount to anything. I will only buy seeds from now on unless you have some way of sending plants from a closer nursery.Date published: 2012-05-08Rated 5 out of 5 by Dandirt from Excellent Cantaloupe Fast, productive, several growing in my garden.Date published: 2010-07-03Rated 4 out of 5 by wilbar from Against all odds When my neighbors saw my canaloupe vines,they told me it did not grow here and that I was wasting my time with it.They advised I just pull them up and plant something else while I still had the time. I started to pull them up and then stopped with two plants remaining. They grew well early on and produced five melons.One was evey bit as big as the storebought ones.The others were smaller but sweet. As with all of my vines,there was a problem with leaf mold and these plants died early.That was my fault really,for not knowing enough but,next year i will be on better gaurd than this year. when the melons ripened the skin turned yellow and the stem just about "fell" off.I left them on as long as I could stand it because once picked ,it will not get any sweeter no matter how you try. Oh! By the way...I gave my sceptical neighbors the biggest one.They have not said a word since!Date published: 2007-08-18Rated 5 out of 5 by Aliakey from Great for even the novice gardener! I was a little apprehensive towards an heirloom seed surviving my plant care techniques, as I have a green thumb... but for weeds and bugs only! But, these cantaloupes did great even under the stress of overcrowding pig weed, flooding storms, and the number/type of insects were really bad this year. I didn't use pesticides and just added normal amounts of vegetable fertilizer, and these melons did great! Very sweet, and no internal damage from the bugs. The melons are a bit smaller in size compared to the store-bought varieties, but my plants yielded about 3 to 5 beautiful melons each. I will be using these next year, and also hiring the kids down the street to help pull weeds.Date published: 2006-09-15