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Melon, Charentais

Short Description

HEIRLOOM. The ultimate French melon—and one of the best-tasting anywhere.

Full Description

The definitive French melon. Originating in the Poitou-Charentes region around 1920, Charentais is considered the best melon ever developed because of its high sugar content, smooth texture and ambrosial fragrance. Perfect for two servings, the small round melons weigh just 2 lb. Gray in color with slight ribs, the melons have rich salmon-orange flesh.
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Melon, Charentais
Melon, Charentais, , large
Item #: 64450A
1 Pkt. (25 Seeds)
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Product properties

Days To Maturity The average number of days from when the plant is actively growing in the garden to the expected time of harvest.

70-80 days

Fruit Weight The average weight of the fruit produced by this product.

2-3 pounds

Sun The amount of sunlight this product needs daily in order to perform well in the garden. Full sun means 6 hours of direct sun per day; partial sun means 2-4 hours of direct sun per day; shade means little or no direct sun.

Full Sun

Spread The width of the plant at maturity.

36-72 inches

Height The typical height of this product at maturity.

15-18 inches

Sow Method This refers to whether the seed should be sown early indoors and the seedlings transplanted outside later, or if the seed should be sown directly in the garden at the recommended planting time.

Direct Sow

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  • Melon

    Start Indoors Start Indoors Starting seeds indoors is called Indoor Sow or Indirect Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds indoors in the spring or summer
    Transplant Transplant When to transplant bulbs or roots in the garden for spring
    Start Outdoors Start Outdoors Starting seeds outdoors is called Outdoor Sow or Direct Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds outdoors in the spring or summer
    Start Indoors Fall Start Indoors Fall Starting seeds indoors in the fall called Indoor Sow or Indirect Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds outdoors in the fall
    Transplant Fall Transplant Fall Transplant Fall-When to transplant bulbs or roots in the garden for fall
    Start Outdoors Fall Start Outdoors Fall Starting seeds outdoors in the fall is called Outdoor Sow or Direct Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds outdoors in the fall
    First Date: May-16 - Last Date: Jun-13

How to Sow and Plant

Sowing Seed Indoors:

  • Direct sowing is recommended, but to get a head start you can start melons 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.
  • 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 Maturity
70-80 days
Fruit Weight
2-3 pounds
Full Sun
36-72 inches
15-18 inches
Sow Method
Direct Sow
Planting Time
Sow Time
After Last Frost
36 inches
Life Cycle
Melon, Charentais is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 2.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good cantaloupe, but not great Note: the photo is incorrect. Charentais melons don't have netting. I keep reading about people harvesting spectacular Charentais cantaloupes. I have yet to have that happen. Every cantaloupe has been good, above average for the grocery store, but not great. Every single one tastes like it needs another couple days on the vine. What's odd is they usually score at 14-16 on the Brix meter, but the other melons I have growing score lower (12-14) and taste sweeter and more ripe. I know this is partly because the Charentais has a high acid content which can offset some of the sweetness, but it still doesn't taste ripe. The flesh is too firm and there's a burst of sweetness around the seed pocket that fades considerably after 1/4" into the flesh. I've tried every variation for harvesting time, color, etc.. several times and they all taste more or less the same. Good, but not great. This variety isn't for the casual gardener. The fruit is prone to splitting on the blossom side if over-watered, and if you don't catch it within a few hours, then the ants will take over. The cantaloupe ripens in what feels like less than 36 hours. The skin will be a greyish green for weeks and then *pop* it will turn yellow one day and beige the next. According to every article I could find, that's when the fruit is ready. Unlike most melons, Charentais doesn't break away from the vine when ripe. If you wait a day too long, then they will start to rot and the cantaloupe will taste a bit sour. I'm giving the Charentais 4 stars instead of 3 because of the production and hardiness. Two plants have produced over two dozen cantaloupes this summer, in spite of getting a late start due to a spaghetti squash that nearly suffocated the entire garden. No diseases and they seem to adore our hot, dry weather. One last note, don't plant Charentais near any plants that need a lot of regular watering. The melons stopped splitting when I stopped over-watering the plants. The leaves will go soft during the heat of the day and perk back up in the evening when the temperature drops. As long as the leaves are perking back up at night, then the plant has sufficient water.
Date published: 2016-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent melon These melons were a great success. All the seeds I planted germinated; vines were healthy, vigorous, and prolific, and continued to set fruit until quite late in the season. The flavor is superb, one of the best melons I have tasted. The only caveat I have about the Charentais is that they can be a bit tricky to harvest. They ripen very suddenly -- I've had them go from silvery-green at noon to golden-yellow and fully ripe by sundown. And they are prone to split very soon after ripening if not harvested immediately. (They'll split before ripening, too, if they get too much water. I lost a couple of green ones after a heavy rainstorm.) So, they require a bit of extra vigilance; I made it a point to check the garden a couple of times a day. I'd say they're well worth it, though. One note: at the time of this writing, the photo on Burpee's website for this melon does not show a Charentais. The Charentais does not have netting; it looks very similar to the photo on the page for the Vedrantais melon, a close relative.
Date published: 2013-09-11
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