Cantaloupe is a Gift from Heaven
Cantaloupe is a delightful treat best eaten on a hot summer day. The pale, coral color and unique, sweet flavor make cantaloupe a terrific choice for home gardens.fruit for home gardens. With a narrow growing season, learning how to grow cantaloupe will ensure a consistent supply of this delicious melon all summer long.
How to Grow Cantaloupe
Cantaloupe should be planted when the temperatures has warmed sufficiently after the last frost. Plants requires a bit of special care to produce the maximum sweet flavor. As with other gourd type plants, soil preparation is important. The preparation should include removal of all weeds and roots. Add fertilizer if the soil requires additional nutrients. Cantaloupe is a vine plant and has a substantial root system similar to pumpkin, squash and cucumber. Other roots inhibit the root growth of cantaloupe plants, resulting in smaller, less flavorful cantaloupe.
Cantaloupe On the Hill
Similar to other members of its species, cantaloupe is best planted in rows on small hills. After turning over the soil, gather soil until it forms small high ridges or hills for each plant. There should be a wide space between each row of at least three feet. The wide space provides ready access to each individual cantaloupe plant. Hills in each row should be spaced one foot apart to allow for plants to spread during growth. Plant several seeds in each hill.
Some gardeners use a dark plastic sheet to protect seeds in the early germination stage. It’s advisable to invest in a sturdy support to train cantaloupes along the frame and keep them off the ground. Cantaloupe needs full sun for up to six hours each day. Don’t over-water cantaloupe plants. They have a naturally moist interior and rind and only need enough water to keep plants from drying. For cantaloupes, the best watering method is to avoid the main stem and leaves and apply directly around the base of each plant.
Fertilizer Tips for Cantaloupes
Typically, cantaloupes grow best in a potassium and phosphorus rich soil. Keep an eye on the leaves for evidence of retardation of leaves and blossoms. To help increase the number of cantaloupe blossoms, try adding a little nitrogen fertilizer.
Humans aren’t the only ones who love a luscious cantaloupe treat. Deer and other woodland animals can make a meal of cantaloupe in the garden. Take care to protect blossoms from which the cantaloupes grow by placing a plastic milk crate over each plant. Once the plant bears fruit, lift the cantaloupe onto an old flower pot. Then, use brightly colored festoons tied on gardening string as a border around the garden to ward off pests.
As soon as the plant is nearly ripe, decrease the number of water applications. It’s easy to tell when a cantaloupe is fully ripened. Give the outer rind a quick thump. If the thump sounds too hollow, the fruit isn’t ripened. A mature cantaloupe has a much sweeter taste. It’s also easier to remove the rind.