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Melons



Melons

CULTURE: Southern exposure and sweet, light, well-drained soil is ideal. Good soil moisture is important in early stages of growth and during pollination when fruits are setting. After this point do not water unless the soil is very dry and leaves begin to show signs of wilting in midday.
TRANSPLANTING:
Sow indoors in 2-3" pots or cell-type containers in late April or one month (no sooner!) before transplanting outdoors when the weather is frost-free, warm, and settled. Plant 3 seeds per cell, about 1/4" deep. Keep temperature 80-90F (27-32C) until germination. Handle young plants carefully and never let the soil dry out. Grow seedlings at 75F (24C). Reduce water and temperature for a week to harden seedlings. After frost, transplant 2-3' apart in rows 6' apart or thin to 1 plant/pot or cell with scissors and transplant 18" apart. Even hardened melon seedlings are tender! Do not disturb roots when transplanting, and water thoroughly.
DIRECT SEEDING:
Sow 1-2 weeks after last frost when soil is warm, above 70F (21C), 3 seeds every 18", 1/2" deep, thinning to 1 plant/spot.
ROW COVERS:
Since melons like consistently warm conditions, plastic mulch and row covers (refer to Index) will make for earlier crops and better yields, especially in the North. Remove covers when plants have female flowers (tiny fruit at base of blossom).
DISEASES:
Choose varieties resistant to diseases in your area. "Sudden wilt" is a complex disease and cold weather stress syndrome in late summer when plants have a heavy set of ripening melons, can cause plants to wilt almost overnight. Keep plants healthy with good fertility and irrigation.
INSECT PESTS:
Control cucumber beetles by using fabric row covers or with the botanical insecticides rotenone and/or pyrethrin (refer to Index).
RIPENESS:
Each variety is a little different and must be learned! Most melon varieties are ready when the gray-green color begins to change to buff-yellow and when a light tug separates the fruit from the vine. Some melon types, like honeydew, charentais, canary, Spanish, and crenshaw are overripe by the time the stem can be tugged from the fruit. These must be cut from the vine.
STORAGE:
Store ripe netted melons at near freezing; store other melons at 45-50F (7-10C) and 80% humidity 2-4 weeks.
DAYS TO MATURITY:
From transplanting; add about 10 days if direct-seeded.
AVG. DIRECT SEEDING RATE:
1,000 seeds/500', 1 oz./560', 1.8 oz./1,000', 13 oz./acre at 3 seeds every 18" in rows 6' apart.
TRANSPLANTS:
Avg. 840 plants or 280 pots/oz. at 3 seeds/pot. Avg. 13,500 plants or 4,500 pots/lb.
SEED SPECS:
SEEDS/LB.: 16,000-20,000 (avg. 18,000).


Melons


THE BENEFITS OF MELONS

Melons provide a good source of potassium and vitamin C. Like many other fruits, they are also fat and cholesterol free, high in water content, and are relatively low in calories. Many melons originated in the Middle East and their popularity was gradually spread across Europe. Of all the melons, ancient Egyptians and Romans mostly consumed cantaloupes and muskmelons. Christopher Columbus transported melon seeds to the United States and Spanish explorers eventually cultivated them.

Melons are in the same gourd family as squashes and cucumbers. Most melons are similar in appearance to winter squash. Both groups have thick flesh and an inner seed-filled midsection. The main difference between melons and squashes is in the way that they are used. Squashes are consumed as vegetables while melons are consumed as fruits due to their much sweeter, juicy flavor.