Cantaloupe is a tasty fruit that is rich in vitamin A and C. It’s identified by its striking exterior and orange flesh, and is normally consumed by itself or in conjunction with salads and desserts.
The cantaloupe fruit is primarily indigenous to Africa and India, although it is grown in many places around the world. The first cultivators of the cantaloupe were the Egyptians followed by the Greeks and Romans. It is best grown in warmer climates and subsequently cannot be grown all year round in countries that experience dramatic seasonal changes. It usually requires adequate space and sunlight to grow and is somewhat slow to reach maturation.
Growing cantaloupe yourself ensures that you’re able to monitor the quality of the fruit, and it also gives you a sense of certainty that the fruit is not contaminated with any potentially harmful chemicals that may be used by large scale producers of cantaloupe. The process of planting cantaloupe is fairly straightforward, however proper maintenance and care procedures must be followed.
- Gardening gloves (optional)
- Cantaloupe seeds
If growing in wintry climates, be sure to commence planting after the winter months have passed – preferably in the spring. Cantaloupe will not grow in frigid temperatures. To improve the odds of yielding more cantaloupe in colder climates, choose seeds that have a faster maturation period.
- Prepare the soil by turning with a pitch fork and adding residue from old crops to fortify the soil. This should be done 2-3 weeks before planting begins so that the organic matter has sufficient time to decompose.
- Sow the seeds in the ground at a 1 inch depth. Plant approximately 3 to 6 seeds per foot.
- When preparing the rows ensure they are at least 50 inches apart but no more than 70 inches apart.
- Once the seeds start to sprout reduce to a single plant per foot.
- When the seedlings have produced their third set of leaves they must be thinned to three plants per hill.
- Always remember to remove weeds as they will potentially vie for soil nutrients and compromise the growth and health of the cantaloupes.
- Hoe gently on occasion without destroying the delicate root system of the plant.
- Apply mulch around the growing plants to cut down on weed growth and to keep the soil moist and warm enough to improve the cantaloupes growth rate.
- Water the seedlings fairly regularly until the fruit begins to form and protect the area from being violated by typical garden pests and other animals.
- In about 3-4 weeks the cantaloupe should be ready for harvest.
Tips and Warnings
- The seeds can be grown indoors in a pot and transplanted after two to four weeks.
- The first blossoms will not grow into fruits these are pollen bearing flowers or male flowers, only the female flowers are able to produce actual fruit.
- To optimize soil temperature in cold climates fabric row covers and black plastic may be used. This will speed up the overall growth rate.