Cantaloupes, also known as rockmelons and muskmelons, are popular fruits that have many different stages of growth from planting the seed to harvesting the fruit.
In this article I’ve listed the growth stages of cantaloupe plants along with some handy tips to help you to grow your own cantaloupes at home.
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Cantaloupes are a variety of melons that are ideal for growing vertically on a trellis.
They grow best in warm climates and the plants will need a longer growing season than watermelons.
Cantaloupes are part of the same plant family as cucumbers, pumpkins and squash and they’re annuals so you’ll need to plant new seeds every year.
CANTALOUPE PLANT GROWTH STAGES
Stage 1 – Planting the seeds
Cantaloupes are heavy feeders, so dig some aged manure or compost into your soil before planting the seeds.
Cantaloupe seeds should be planted 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep and covered with soil.
Water the soil well to make sure the soil is moist all the way through, as cantaloupes need consistently moist conditions.
You can start the seeds indoors in seedling trays and transplant them out to the garden or plant them directly in the garden if the temperature is above 70 ℉ (21 ℃).
If you’re planting the seeds directly in the garden, leave at least 3 feet (90 cm) in between them or 12 inches (30 cm) if you’re using a trellis.
Stage 2 – Germination
Cantaloupe seeds usually take about 10 days to germinate but it may take a little longer if the soil is cool.
The seed leaves will appear first, followed by the true leaves a few days later.
Ensure that the soil is kept moist as the seedling develops.
Once the plants reach 4 inches (10 cm) in height you can start fertilizing the plants with a balanced fertilizer.
Stage 3 – Vine Growth
Cantaloupe vines can reach 4 to 7 feet (1.2 to 2.1 metres) in length so they’ll need plenty of room to spread out.
If you have limited garden space you can train the vines to grow up a trellis, arbor or even a wire fence to maximize your growing space.
Cantaloupes grow very fast in warm conditions, sending out tendrils that attach to vertical structures for support.
If you’re using a trellis, make sure that it’s sturdy so it won’t tip over under the weight of the vines.
Add a thick layer of mulch around the base of the plants to reduce weeds and help retain moisture.
Stage 4 – Flowering and Pollination
Cantaloupe vines will start producing yellow flowers in late spring or early summer and the flowers are great for attracting bees to your garden.
If you don’t have many bees around you can assist with the pollination process by using a small paint brush to transfer some of the pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers.
Stage 5 – Fruit Development
After pollination is completed you’ll notice a small swelling below the female flowers, which is the first stage of the fruit development.
Once the plants have set fruit, you may need to thin them out by removing some of the smaller fruits.
This will encourage better quality fruit growth as well as help maintain a healthy plant that’s not weighed down by too much fruit.
Stage 6 – Harvesting
Cantaloupe fruits are ready to harvest 70 to 90 days after planting, depending on the variety and weather conditions.
They’re ready to harvest when they turn beige in color and are slightly soft to the touch.
You should leave your cantaloupes on the vine until they’re fully ripe so the fruits have time to sweeten.
To harvest cantaloupes, gently lift and pull the fruit off the vine. The fruit should separate from the vine easily.
Ripe cantaloupes can weigh between 3 to 4 pounds (1.3 to 1.8 kg).
Storing and eating cantaloupes
Cantaloupes can be stored whole in the crisper section of the fridge for one to two weeks once they’ve been harvested.
Don’t cut them until you’re ready to eat them.
Cantaloupes contain mostly water and sugar, which help make them very juicy and sweet with a subtle citrus or musk flavour depending on the variety.
They’re almost always eaten raw, but they can also be roasted, grilled, baked or made into jams and preserves.
Canteloupes aren’t as common as other types of melons such as honeydew or watermelon, but they’re becoming better known and more widely available these days.
They’re also often referred to as muskmelon, Persian melon or Mexican cantaloupe.
So there are the different stages of cantaloupe growth that you’ll see when growing cantaloupes in your garden.
Watching cantaloupes grow is interesting and it’s highly satisfying to grow your own fresh fruits at home.
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Have you tried growing cantaloupes in your garden? Let me know in the comments below.