A light, well-drained soil with a pH of 7.0 and a southern exposure is ideal. Good soil moisture is important in early stages of growth and during pollination when fruits are setting. After this point do not water the last week before fruits are ripe, as overwatering can cause bland fruit.
Sow indoors in 50-cell plug trays or 2-3″ biodegradable pots in late April or one month (no sooner!) before transplanting outdoors. Plant 3 seeds/cell or pot, about 1/4″ deep. Keep temperature 80-90°F (27-32°C) until germination. Handle young plants carefully and never let the soil dry out. Grow seedlings at 75°F (24°C). Reduce water and temperature for a week to harden-off seedlings. When the weather is frost-free, warm, and settled, transplant 2-3′ apart in rows 6′ apart or thin to 1 plant/cell or pot with scissors and transplant 18″ apart. Even hardened-off melon seedlings are tender. Do not disturb roots when transplanting, and water thoroughly.
Sow 1-2 weeks after last frost when soil is warm, above 70°F (21°C), 3 seeds every 18″, 1/2″ deep, thinning to 1 plant/cell or pot.
Ripeness indicators vary by melon type. Most cantaloupes are ready when the gray-green color begins to change to buff-yellow and are harvested at “full slip” or when a light tug separates the fruit from the vine. Some types, like Canary and Crenshaw, require a bit more pressure to separate the fruit and are harvested at “forced slip.” Others, like Honeydew, Charentais, and Piel de Sapo, are overripe by the time the stem can be tugged from the fruit; these must be cut from the vine. See product copy for when to harvest, as there are varietal differences.
DAYS TO MATURITY:
From transplanting; add about 10 days if direct-seeded.