Melons are a tender, warm-season, vining vegetable closely related to cucumbers and squash. This genus species (Cucumis melo) includes muskmelons (cantaloupes), honeydews, crenshaw, casaba and other obscure melons. For clarity we will use the more common name of “cantaloupe” to refer to muskmelons. Watermelons are a different genus Citrullus lanatus. Follow this link for more on Watermelons.
Melons are characterized by tough but not hard rinds and watery, flesh. Under their rinds, they have thick walls of flesh around a hollow center filled with fibers and seeds.
While cantaloupes and honeydews are closely related, they are different fruits. Honeydews are round and have smooth, light-colored rinds and green flesh. Cantaloupes are also round and have darker, netted rinds, and most have orange flesh but a few have green or white flesh.
To grow melons you need sun, water, space, bees and time. They need warm summer days to grow best so don’t plant them until the night temperatures are consistently above 60°F. Water is critical for melons to develop, but they do not like to be kept overly wet. Melons need a lot of space. Allow them 4-6 feet width to spread out their vine. See below for spacing. Honeybees are needed to pollinate each bloom for fruit to grow. Inadequate pollination will result in small or misshapen fruit. Melons are a long season crop. Days to harvest range between 80-140 days depending on the variety. For more specifics on growing, follow this link on how to grow melons.
Cantaloupe is a round melon with very tasty salmon-colored flesh and distinct webbed skin. They produce 3-6 pound melons. After watermelons, cantaloupe is the most popular type of melon due to their rich flavor, delicious aroma, abundance of Vitamin C and minimal calories.
Cantaloupe has sweet, orange flesh. When ripe the rinds change color from green to tan or yellow between the skin netting. They will typically start to ripen in late July to early August if planted on time. Harvest Cantaloupe when the stem separates easily near the point of attachment. You can also tell if they are ripe by their musky, cantaloupe smell.
Plant Cantaloupe in full sun 18-24″ apart in 5 foot rows. Cantaloupes mature in 75-90 days.
How To Grow Cantaloupes and Honeydew Melons
Honeydew melon is a smooth skinned melon similar in size and shape to a cantaloupe and have the same basic cultural requirements. Honeydews typically have light green to creamy-white skin that sometimes can have a yellow tint. Its flesh is pale green to white, sweet and rich in diverse nutrients. At peak ripeness, they are the sweetest of all melons.
Honeydew melons are oval or round and usually weight between 3-8 pounds and 6-8″ wide when mature. Most vines produce 3-5 melons per plant.
Plant Honeydew in full sun 18-24″ apart in 4-5 foot rows. Honeydews mature in 80-90 days.