Melon Seed - How to grow Honey Dew and Cantaloupe ?
Soil, Planting, and Care
Cantaloupe and honeydew melons thrive in warm soil. Don’t plant until the ground temperature is above 70 degrees F, which typically occurs about the time peonies bloom in northern zones. Prior to planting, cover soil with plastic film to hasten soil warming. Because cantaloupes and honeydew are heavy feeders, prepare your planting bed well. The quick way is to plant in soil amended with 4 to 6 inches of compost or well-rotted manure, if available. Then feed at planting and several times through the growing season.
Melons need room to roam. Space plants 36 to 42 inches apart. Or, to save space, plant melons 12 inches apart at the base of a trellis. When trellising melons, tie vines to the trellis daily, using soft plant ties that won’t crush stems. A trellis for cantaloupe should be large: up to 8 feet tall and 20 feet wide in warmest climates. Wire fencing works well. Trellising offers several advantages: Vines get better air circulation than on the ground, which reduces the chances of disease. In northern zones, vines also get more sunlight when on a trellis that’s positioned at a slant toward the sun. You can also place a trellis against a bright reflective surface, which increases the amount of light reaching leaves and confuses melon aphids, who like to hide on the shadowy undersides of leaves. If you use a trellis, anchor it firmly so gusty summer winds don’t topple the vine-covered trellis.
After planting in spring you can cover plants with floating row covers to exclude insects and trap warm air near plants; this is most important in cooler climates but is useful everywhere to keep certain pests off the plants. In cool climates you can also lay out a permeable black tarp or black landscape fabric over the area to help trap the sun’s warmth. Simply plant through it (cut x-shaped slits).
Vines bear male and female flowers. Male flowers open first, joined by female blossoms about a week later. Female flowers have a small swelling at the base of the flower. When vines start to bear male and female flowers, remove row covers so bees can visit the flowers.
Tackle weeds before vines start to run, because later it will be impossible to step among vines without crushing them. Mulching soil under vines suppresses weeds and slows moisture evaporation from the soil. Of course, if you planted in a black cover, that is already done.
Water may be the most important variable that you supply; melons need a steady supply. Vines are most sensitive to drought during the time between transplanting and when fruits start to form. Keep soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, which will kill plants. It’s typical for leaves to wilt under midday sun, but they shouldn’t remain wilted into the evening. If possible, avoid overhead watering. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation deliver water directly to the soil, preventing possible spread of fungus diseases on wet foliage. If you must use a sprinkler, then water vines very early in the morning so that leaves can dry early, which helps prevent fungus diseases.
For vines running on the ground, keep fruit from direct contact with soil to prevent rot and protect fruit from pests. Place ripening fruit on mulch, upturned coffee cans, or flower pots.
The key to a sweet melon is lots of sugar, which is made by the leaves. So anything that hurts the leaves also hurts the quality of the fruit.