Melons (Cantaloupe & Honeydew)
Cantaloupe is rich in vitamins A, C and beta-carotene. (More than 100 percent of RDA in one cup.) Vitamin A and beta-carotene essential to maintain healthy vision. Vitamin C protects circulatory and immune systems from cell-damaging free radicals and stimulates white blood cells to fight infection. (Honeydew has much less of the vitamins but similar amounts of the others.) Also contains folate, important in producing and maintaining new cells, especially during pregnancy or when healing a severe wound. Cantaloupe helps with energy by controlling metabolism of carbohydrates.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B9 (Folate), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), C, E and K
Minerals – Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Calcium, Sodium, Iron, Selenium, Manganese, Copper and Zinc
Helps reduce risk of cataracts, heart disease, stroke, many cancers and promotes overall health with broad base of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A may help prevent emphysema in smokers and those exposed to second-hand smoke.
How to Grow
First cultivated in southwestern Asia and the Nile Delta. Melons grow best in hot, dry areas. Night temperatures should not go below 55˚F. Melons need 3-4 months of warm weather. Do not plant until the soil has reached 65-75˚F. Require full sun, complete drainage and air circulation to prevent fungal diseases. Mix in some broken-down compost to provide nutrients and improve soil structure. Avoid water build up on the surface, since melons rest on the ground during growth. A sprinkling of fish bone meal helps. Best soil pH ranges from 6.5-7. In 2.5 to 3 months they yield ripe fruit. If growing in a cooler area, start in a heated greenhouse until it gets warm enough outside. Create a small soil hill and plant two transplants per hill. If sowing seeds outdoors, plant 6-8 seeds in a 12-inch circle on each hill. Space hills 5 to 10 feet apart, depending on projected size. Mulch after onset of summer to prevent water stress if you live in very hot, dry area. Keep soil watered regularly but keep surface relatively dry. Females have swelling below the petal tube. As flowers begin to show, notice if females are aborting. Means lack of pollinating bees. If so, pick the male flower and pollinate the stigma of the female.
Canteloupe and honeydue susceptible to spider mites. (In some areas the cucumber beetle, too.) Seaweed spray several times during growing season helps maintain robust plant growth. If the infestation is severe, use rotenone.
Very prone to mildew. Grow on mounds or raised beds to prevent water build up. Cantaloupe is ripe when easy to detach from the vine. Another hint to ripeness is sweet smell and softness on each end of fruit.