Wednesday, June 4, 2008


By popular demand, here's a post about cantaloupes.

My previous experience with melon growing includes a small hill of watermelon I planted in our backyard when I was about 12. As I recall, it produced two melons, the first of which was proudly harvested at about softball size by the bratty kid from next door. The second was still maturing on the vine when my brother got too close to it while mowing the yard and sucked the whole vine up into the lawnmower.

Attempt number two was last year with a couple of Moon and Stars watermelons that seemed to grow fine, until they succumbed to some sort of fungus or mold, I think, probably brought on by last year's damp monsoon weather.

This year, things seem to be going much better. After I built the new raised bed in February, I never got around to expending the money or labor needed to fill it with growing mix and instead opted to dig into the native soil beneath it and turn in a bit of leftover bagged compost and fertilizer mix. Most of the compost went in two hills inside the bed, where, in each, I planted one Ambrosia cantaloupe seedling from the Natural Gardener and covered the whole mess with a few inches of dead grass. That was March 26th.

They're growing pretty well.

All that foliage keeps the whole bed very well shaded, which I think is helping the water situation quite a bit. Melons are thirsty, I hear. It also makes it a little hard to find the melons. It seems that cantaloupes tend to produce nothing by male blossoms for quite a while at first. I was starting to get worried toward the end of April, when I finally noticed a few tiny melons here and there. A couple of weeks later, I noticed my most promising candidate, about the size of a pecan, had shriveled up and fallen off.

Then I dug around a bit and found three of these.

At this point, they're about 6-inches long and starting to develop those brown ridges and bumps on their skins. They're about 70 days from transplant, so I'm guessing the first could be ready within a couple of weeks, assuming squirrels or terriers don't find them first.



Blogger Laura said...

Hooray! My popular demand has been answered!

Have you used any additional fertilizer or additives since planting? My melon plant looks good but no fruit has set yet...


June 4, 2008 11:44 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Hey Laura!

As with most of the plants, I sprayed them down with liquid fish about once a week for the first 3 weeks after planting. I stop doing that when blossoms appear because nitrogen, while it encourages foliage growth, can discourage blossoming and fruiting.

Just incidentally (like to empty out the bottom of a bucket) I tossed a handful of fertilizer on them once, but I don't see that having much effect.

It really did seem to take forever to see any fruit on these. I was afraid I had gotten all-male plants or something.

ps. I took your advice and have sprinkled cayenne all over our biggest tomatoes. Strangely, the squirrels have been mostly absent from the yard for the past week. They're probably just waiting for us to go on vacation.

June 4, 2008 12:20 PM  

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