Cantaloupes are one of the most popular fruits grown in Florida. They have been cultivated since ancient times and they were first introduced into Europe during the 16th century. Today, there are over 300 varieties of cantaloupes produced worldwide. They are available in all shapes and sizes, but they all share some common characteristics: they are large, yellowish green or red fruit with a round shape. Most cantaloupes ripen at different rates depending on their location; however, most commonly sold cantaloupes do not last long after being picked. Cantaloupes are considered to be good sources of vitamin C and potassium (around 1/3rd each). They are also rich in dietary fiber, protein and other nutrients.
Growing Cantaloupe From Seeds
How to Grow Cantaloupe From Seeds?
The easiest way to grow cantaloupes from seed is through a hydroponic system. Hydroponics uses water and nutrient solution instead of soil to cultivate plants. These systems use a combination of air, water and fertilizer solutions to produce healthy plants that thrive under these conditions.
In order to grow cantaloupes from seed using a hydroponic system, you will need:
Soil less growing medium (vermiculite and perlite are good choices)
western fence post wire (size depends on the size of the pot)
8×8 square foot Clear tent
Fluorescent light fixture with 4 bulbs (2 Cool White and 2 Warm White, 6400 Kelvin)
Air pump, air tubing, air stones and plastic tray
Seed Starting mix
Sunglasses or other eye protection
Optional: pH meter, Waterproof watch or timer
Begin by preparing the hydroponic system. Fill the hydroponic reservoir with water, allowing enough room for the water to be circulated and aerated by the air pump. Aeration is a very important element in a successful hydroponic system. The water level should be high enough to allow the pump to stir up the water and bubbles to rise, but not so high that it overflows.
A good rule of thumb is to have at least 2 inches between the water level and the top of the reservoir. Add water soluble fertilizer to the water at the rate recommended on the package.
An optional (but very useful) part of the hydroponic system is a waterproof watch or timer. By putting the watch in the water, you will be able to see the current temperature of the water. This is important because different plants require different temperature ranges. Ideal temperature range for growing cantaloupes is between 72 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
The cantaloupe seeds need to be kept in a warm area in order for them to sprout.
Next, assemble the growing tray. Cut lengths of western fence wire to fit inside the nursery trays. These will be the spaces where you will place the seeds and grow the cantaloupe seedlings.
Fill each space with soil less growing medium. This provides both aeration for the roots and allows for even water distribution. The soil less growing medium should be damp before using.
Finally, place the seeds in the soil less growing medium. Lightly cover them with more of the growing medium and mist them with water to ensure that they are moist. Cover the tray with the plastic cover to protect the seeds from light.
Now your cantaloupes are ready to be nurtured by their new hydroponic system. Just monitor the water level in the reservoir, as well as the temperature of the water. Add water soluble fertilizer at the recommended rate.
The cantaloupes should begin to sprout in about a week. Once they reach about four inches tall, transplant them into their own individual nursery flats with soil mixed in. Keep the temperature between 72 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit to encourage growth. When the roots show through the bottom of the flat, it is time for them to be transplanted into the garden or another larger container.
To water the cantaloupes directly, place the hydroponic reservoir at a level that allows water to flow down onto the vines, rather than having to water them manually. The pump should be located below the reservoir rather than above it in order to provide enough pressure for the water to flow. As the plants grow taller and heavier, add bricks or small buckets of water on either side to provide added support. This will also help to keep the cantaloupes from tipping the system over.
Once the harvest is complete, clean out the system thoroughly before planting another crop.
This hydroponic system has been designed for cantaloupes, although it can be used for other types of melons as well. Different types of melons will have varying requirements in terms of light, temperature and nutrient requirements. It is recommended to research the specific needs of the melon varieties that you want to grow.
In addition to modifying the size of containers, melons can also be grown in a Ground Culture hydroponic system.
Melon plants are also susceptible to many of the same diseases as tomato plants. It is important to choose disease resistant varieties when growing melons. In addition, it is important to rotate where you grow your melons and where you grow your tomatoes. These plants are in the same family and therefore have many of the same diseases.
By rotating their locations you will prevent the spread of disease.
It is also a good idea to keep your plants healthy and strong so they can better resist the diseases that may be present in your area. A regular application of fertilizer will help to keep the plants healthy and promote strong roots. Finally, it is always a good idea to practice crop rotation and to keep up on weeding, even in a hydroponic system.
The most important thing to remember when planting melons is that they like it hot. Although they can survive in a wider range of temperatures than some plants, it is still important to give them lots of sun and protection from the wind.
The second most important thing to remember is that they are a very thirsty plant. It is important to keep the soil around the roots moist at all times, so a drip irrigation system is a must. It is also a good idea to have a drip system right above the root zone to keep the soil from becoming too dry and to have a backup water supply should your main water source fail for any reason.
Cantaloupes do best in a sunny location that is well drained. Although they will grow in almost any type of soil, it is best to prepare the soil bed properly.
Choose a site that has full sun all day.
Water the soil and then use a shovel to make a small hole in the ground. Use your finger to check the consistency of the soil. Good soil is crumbly and slightly moist. If it is too dry, add water and mix into the soil.
If it is too wet, add well-dunged organic matter or builders sand, mixing it into the soil.
Beds that are raised bed are always better than those that are not because the soil will retain more moisture. If you have problems with drainage during the wet season, it may be necessary to build the soil bed up higher to reduce the amount of water that it is exposed to.
It is recommended that you plant at least 2 cantaloupes together. This allows for better pollination and will result in a higher quality yield.
Prepare the soil bed, removing any lumps or clods and ensuring that it is level.
Make a small hole in the ground for each seed.
Fill the hole with water and allow it to soak through the soil.
Place the cantaloup seeds into the hole and cover them with soil.
Thoroughly wet the newly planted seeds.
Keep the soil wet at all times, especially when the melons start to develop.
Weed weekly and remove any weeds that are in direct contact with the melons or their roots.
Apply a balanced fertilizer once a month (if you planted more than one melon together, only fertilize the ones that are intended for consumption).
Cantaloupes should be picked when they feel slightly soft when gently pressed.
Pick them before they become overripe because at this stage the flesh becomes soft and septic.
Always remove the fruit from the vine when ripe and leave the stem attached.
If you plan to use the vines again, pick the fruit at this stage.
Store in a cool place with plenty of ventilation until ready to eat.
Wash and cut the fruit just before eating.
The flavor of cantaloupes becomes bland after being stored for more than a few days. They should be eaten as soon as possible after picking.
Desert Sands – These melons are the result of careful selection and breeding to withstand the extreme temperatures of the hottest deserts.
They can grow in areas where other plants will simply not survive.
These melons grow from large, thick, green leaves that offer them a great deal of protection from the intense sunlight and heat.
The flesh is dry and flavorless, however it is very nutritious and contains lots of water.
These melons are far too bitter to be considered palatable for eating fresh.
However, they can be preserved in salt and sugar water to create a drink that is popular with travelers in the desert.
Boiled with tea leaves the taste is not as bad but definitely not something you would choose to do so.
Almec – The Almec melon is a large, green colored fruit with a pale green underbelly.
The flesh has a gray cast and is flecked with brown. These melons are quite rare and only found in certain areas of the world.
The flavor is bland and although the flesh seems dry to the touch, it is very moist and juicy.
The flesh of the fruit is nutritious and provides lots of energy.
Almec melons are usually preserved by cutting them in half and scooping out the flesh before being hung up and left to dry in the sun.
They can be eaten as a dried snack or used to make Almec wine.
The wine is quite strong and quite popular with the locals. Almec wine has the reputation of making people feel great when they drink it, but the hangover is said to be terrible.
Anturan – The Anturan melon is a small, green fruit with darker green stripes.
The flesh is very sweet and juicy and the skin is thick and tough.
Anturan melons are commonly eaten fresh and are very sweet indeed.
They are often preserved by pickling them in salt and vinegar.
This extends their life span somewhat, however they are best eaten fresh.
The Anturan melon is not grown throughout the entire world, it is only grown in small amounts in certain small areas of the world such as the planet of Antura in the Far East and Tulan in the Middle Kingdom.
It is a very rare treat for people when brought there from these distant places.
The Crimson – The Crimson melon is a very large, red fruit with a pale green underbelly.
The flesh is similar in color and has a slightly darker tint than the skin.
The Crimson melons are very sweet and the flavor is like that of honey.
These melons are quite rare and only grown in small quantities on the island-continent of Nalin in the Known world.
They are very popular with the nobility of Nalin and the surrounding kingdoms pay a lot for them as a delicacy.
These melons can be preserved by pickling them for about six months, although after three months they lose some of their flavor and sweetness.
It is best to eat them fresh.
Strawberry – The strawberry is a red fruit that grows on a small bush.
It is very sweet and tasty, with lots of juice.
These berries are often preserved by salting them and turning them into preserves.
They can be eaten on their own, however they are very small and do not contain much flesh, so many people prefer to eat them in this way.
Bamboo Shoot – The bamboo shoot is a long green pod which grows at the top of certain species of bamboo.
It has a bland flavor but is rather crunchy and very juicy.
It can be eaten on its own, however it is often preserved by pickling in salty water.
This process turns the shoots a light pink color and gives them a very sharp and distinctive flavor which some people love and others hate.
Cherimoya – The cherimoya is a large fruit which grows on a evergreen tree native to the southern continent.
It can also be grown in other warmer climates.
The cherimoya has a green skin with lots of wrinkles and a pale yellow flesh.
The flesh has a very soft, creamy and sweet flavor somewhat like a banana but much more delicate.
These fruits are very popular in the southern continent and elsewhere for those able to grow the trees.
Cherimoyas can keep for up to three weeks if kept cool and dry.
Durian – The durian is a large green fruit which grows on the jungle trees of the island of Tyma.
The fruit has a very thick, strong skin which can only be cracked open by mashing it with another object.
Inside the thick skin is a creamy yellow, very soft flesh with large sections of small brown seeds throughout.
The fruit has a very strong and distinctive odor of rotting fish which can be detected from quite a distance and many people refuse to eat it due to the smell.
However, the odor doesn’t transfer to the taste and the fruit inside is very sweet and creamy.
Durians can be eaten on their own or used in cooking, and they keep for several weeks after being opened if kept cool and dry.
Carambola – The carambola, or starfruit, is a yellow fruit which grows on a small tree.
These trees are very popular in the tropical climates of the island of Tyma and are also found growing in the orchards of Calatia and Turismar.
The carambola has a sharp flavor and is crunchy like an apple.
The fruit is very juicy with several seeds inside.
Pineapple – The pineapple is a fruit that grows on the ground.
The pineapple is very sweet and popular among children and the aristocratic classes.
Banana – The banana is a yellow fruit which grows on a plant, although many people think that bananas grow on trees.
The bananas that we get at our local market are from the far off island-continent of Zalan.
They are very nutritious and are a good source of potassium.
Grapes – Grapes are small purple fruit which grow in bunches on vines.
These grapes are grown locally and make a very juicy, sweet fruit.
They have a very short shelf life so they are only available in the late summer and early fall.
Grains – Grains are seeds which can be eaten whole or ground into flour.
They contain many nutrients and there are many different kinds of grain.
Many grain plants are cultivated around the world, the most common are wheat, rice, and corn.
In the kingdom of Tyma grains are planted in the spring and harvested in late summer.
In Calatia and Turismar grains are planted in the late summer and harvested in the early fall.
Meat – Vorax – Vorax is a large, vicious, reptilian predator native to the jungles of the island-continent of Zalan.
Voraxes are semi-intelligent creatures who will generally avoid humans, but will sometimes attack settlements out of anger due to their short tempers.
Voraxes can be killed with large numbers of arrows or repeated stabbing with pikes or spears.
Their scales are thick and covered in blood, so slashing weapons do less well against them.
Voraxes are typically between three and four feet tall when they are born and can grow up to twelve or fourteen feet when fully grown.
Grubs – Grubs are small, white, caterpillar-like insects which live in manure and decay.
They can be eaten and are high in protein and fat.
They generally do not grow longer than a foot and a half.
Bugs – Many different types of bugs can be eaten, most of them are very nutritious.
Be careful not to eat any poisonous species!
Sources & references used in this article:
Occurrence of Acremonium sp. and Monosporascus cannonballus in the major cantaloupe and watermelon growing areas of California by BD Bruton, RM Davis, TR Gordon – Plant Disease, 1995 – ars.usda.gov
… of plant-derived compounds combined with hydrogen peroxide as antimicrobial wash and coating treatment for reducing Listeria monocytogenes on cantaloupes by A Upadhyay, I Upadhyaya, S Mooyottu… – Food …, 2014 – Elsevier
Effects of plant density on yield and quality of cantaloupes by M Zahara – California Agriculture, 1972 – calag.ucanr.edu
Expression of ACC oxidase antisense gene inhibits ripening of cantaloupe melon fruits by R Ayub, M Guis, MB Amor, L Gillot, JP Roustan… – Nature …, 1996 – nature.com
Resource re‐allocation following fruit removal in cucurbits: patterns in cantaloupe melons by ALI EL‐KEBLAWY, JON LOVETT‐DOUST – New Phytologist, 1996 – Wiley Online Library