Cantaloupe – Cucumis melo

The cantaloupe most likely originated in a region from Iran to India and Africa. It was later introduced to Europe. The name is derived via French cantaloup from Italian Cantalupo, which was formerly near Rome, after the fruit's introduction there from Armenia. It was first mentioned in English literature in 1739. Around 1890, cantaloupe became a commercial crop in the United States.

The North American cantaloupe, common in the United States, Mexico, and some parts of Canada, is actually a muskmelon, a different variety of Cucumis melo, and has a "net-like" (reticulated) skin covering. It is a round melon with firm, orange, moderately sweet flesh and a thin, reticulated, light-grey rind.

Melons are best started indoors approximately 3 weeks prior to the last frost of the season. Sow seeds ½" deep in flats or small pots, sowing 3 seeds per pot. Keep medium moist while awaiting germination. Melon seeds will show better germination rates with heat. Keep the soil between 80-90 degrees, using a heat mat if necessary.

Can direct-seed into garden 1 to 2 weeks after average last frost when soil is 21C or warmer. Plant ½ inch deep, 6 seeds per hill, hills 4 to 6 feet apart; or 1 foot apart in rows 5 feet apart. Can plant at closer spacings if trellised. Thin to 2 to 3 plants per hill.

Prefers warm, well-drained, soil, high in organic matter. Consistent, plentiful moisture needed until fruit is about the size of a tennis ball. Soil temperatures below 50 F slow growth.

65 to 86 days to harvest.

Seedsshould remain viable for 4 years.

Variety: musk melon