In the home garden, melons can be picked at full maturity, when they have the highest sugar content and best flavour. Their roots are delicate and require high nutrition and lots of water. For all that effort, you’ll be rewarded by the ripest, sweetest melons you’ve ever tasted. Continue reading below to learn how to grow melons from seed.
Cantaloupes (musk melons) & Honeydews: Cucurbita melo
Watermelons: Citrullus lanatus
Easy in a greenhouse or cloche, or outdoors in long, warm summers. Somewhat challenging without these conditions.
Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
It is essential to start seeds indoors or in a greenhouse 4-6 weeks after the last frost date. Transplant when the plants are 5 weeks old. Optimal soil temperature for germination: 20-25°C (68-77°F). Seeds should sprout in 5-10 days.
Sow seeds 1cm (½”) deep. Set transplants 60-90cm (24-36″) apart in rows 1.5-2m (5-6′) apart.
Days to Maturity: From transplant date.
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.8. Choose a warm, well-drained soil. Add dolomite lime and compost or well-rotted manure to the bed and ½-1 cup of balanced organic fertilizer beneath each transplant. Melons need warm growing conditions. Use black plastic mulch, cloches, or floating row covers. Success may improve in raised beds. Melons plants require 8-10 weeks of good, hot growing weather from the middle of June to the end of August. During that time, a melon vine must grow 5-9 leaves before starting to flower, then set 4 or more male flowers before making its first female flower, and then ripen its fruit before cool, damp weather sets in. Melons do not ripen off the vine. During the entire growing season, make sure to provide ample water.
Fruit will ripen in late August to early September. Ripe cantaloupe will easily detach from the vine when light finger pressure is applied to the stem. Watermelon is ripe when the tendril nearest to the fruit withers and dries up.
In ideal conditions at least 60% of seeds will germinate. Usual seed life: 3 years. Per 100′ row: 60 seeds, per acre: 5.2M seeds.
Melons are great companions for corn, marigolds, nasturtiums, pumpkin, radish, squash, and sunflowers. Avoid planting near potatoes. Melon leaves are full of calcium, so they’re good for the compost heap.
More on Companion Planting.