Cantaloupe Plant History
The melon was named cantaloupe by the French sometime during the 18th century. Legend has it that cantaloupe seed was brought to America on one of Christopher Columbus's voyages, but cantaloupes were not widely grown as a commercial crop in the United States until closer to 1890.
Global production of melons is currently predicted to be over 31 million tons annually with China, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and India producing a majority of the harvest.
Can I Grow Cantaloupe Plants?
Cantaloupes (aka rockmelons, sweet melons, and spanspeks) are an easy growing specialty melon that can be direct sown after all danger of frost, or started indoors 3-4 weeks before setting out. Growing cantaloupe plants occupy a fair bit of space, so be sure to leave enough room for the vines to spread out.
Cantaloupe plants take around 80 days to mature on average and is the most hardy when grown in zones 4-10 as a summer annual.
Is it Better to Grow Cantaloupe Seeds or Plants?
Cantaloupe can be direct sown after all danger of frost, or started indoors 3-4 weeks before setting out.
How to Direct Sow Cantaloupe Seeds
How To Cultivate Cantaloupe Plants
Thin growing cantaloupe seedlings to 1 foot apart for best growth.
Cantaloupe Growing Tips
- Grow cantaloupe in rows spaced 3 to 4 feet apart or in "hills" with groups of 2 or 3 plants per "hill".
- Cantaloupes can also be trained on a trellis or fence to save space.
- Cantaloupe plants need a constant supply of water, and particular attention should be paid during summer dry spells.
- Cantaloupes thrive in warm areas with full sun.
- Nutrient-rich soil is the best for most cantaloupe plants.
- Mulch can reduce weeds around the plants and give vines more room to grow freely.
- Young cantaloupe fruits can be protected by getting them off the ground level. This can be done with help of a cage or support.
- For growing sweeter cantaloupe fruit, avoid pinching off shoots.
Harmful Insect & Diseases for Cantaloupe Plants
Cantaloupe is rarely bothered by pests and disease. It's best to rotate your melon crops each year ensuring that you are not planting in the same spot each year.
Cantaloupe Harvesting Tips
Melons need to ripen fully on the vine as they do not ripen well after they are harvested. Cantaloupes develop a wonderful fragrance when they are ready to pick - you can't miss it. The fruit should slip easily from the vine and the blossom end should feel soft to the touch. If the fruit is ripe, the netting on the surface should also noticeabley stand out.
Cantaloupe Recipes & Storage
Cantaloupes are delicious and refreshing summer snacks as well as a gourmet breakfast and dessert specialty. They will last for a week or more in the refrigerator.