There’s nothing better than a ripe, juicy melon picked fresh from the vine. Shipped cantaloupes just can’t compare. If you’re thinking of growing your own cantaloupes this year, here are a few tips to ensure a bumper crop.
Pick the right variety
Cantaloupes come in many different varieties, so do your research to find one that will grow well in your area. How much sun does it need? What type of soil does it prefer? When is the earliest you can plant it? Answering these questions will help you choose the best melon for your garden.
Prepare the soil
Cantaloupes are heavy feeders, so your soil will need to be well-amended with compost or other organic matter before planting. They also prefer a pH between 6.0 and 7.0, so you may need to have your soil tested and adjust the pH accordingly. Melons need full sun to produce well, so choose a spot in your garden that gets at least 8 hours of sunlight per day.
Plant melon seeds indoors about 3 weeks before you intend to transplant them outside. Plant them in biodegradable pots so you don’t have to disturb their delicate roots when transplanting them later on. Keep the seedlings moist but not soggy, and fertilize them every week or two with a half-strength solution of an all-purpose fertilizer.
When transplanting seedlings outside, be sure to handle them carefully so as not to damage their roots. Plant them about 2 feet apart in rows that are also 2 feet apart. Water them well after planting, and then continue to water about 1 inch per week throughout the growing season. Apply a layer of mulch around plants to help retain moisture and prevent weeds from taking over.
With a little planning and care, you can enjoy delicious homegrown cantaloupes all summer long. Just remember to choose the right variety for your area, amend your soil well, and give your plants plenty of sun and water. With these tips, you’ll be harvesting sweet melons in no time.