Although cantaloupe is a “purebred Southern melon,” summer residents planting cantaloupe not only in the South but everywhere.
All because it is so delicious and healthy. The “marketable” varieties are not always distinguished by their high taste, unlike the fruits of their own gardens or greenhouses.
It is true that cantaloupe has its own “secrets”, but it is not particularly difficult. So if you haven’t grown melons on your melon patch yet, you should definitely try it at least once!
There, who knows, maybe you will like it. In this article, we will study the characteristics of growing melons and their effective growing characteristics and storage methods.
Cantaloupe (Cucumis melo) is an annual herb of the pumpkin family, belonging to the genus Cucumis. It has long trailing stems, long-stalked, rounded-oval or palmately arranged leaves, and not too large, respectively hermaphroditic, pale yellow flowers.
Cantaloupe is pollinated by insects (the pollen is heavy, sticky, and not blown away by the wind). The fruits of cantaloupe are false berries with different shapes, skin, and flesh colors. The root system is located mainly in the topsoil layer and is large.
Cantaloupe flowers in June and July. Depending on the variety, each plant has up to eight forms and weighs from 0.5 to 20 kg. It ripens from August to September.
Today there is a wide variety of cantaloupe shapes and subtypes. Some of them are closer to cucumbers according to their food characteristics, while another part is used for zucchini, for cooking vegetables. But the most common is the variety of sweet cantaloupe that we are accustomed to, whose total number is close to 1000.
The homeland of the melon is Asia. It is due to its origins that it is drought tolerant, requires a lot of heat and sunlight, absorbs well in saline soils, but has very low air humidity.
As in most cultures, cantaloupe varieties vary in their ripening time, so this indicator must prevail when choosing a variety suitable for its climatic conditions.
However, in addition to this, there is another important characteristic, namely the freshness of the fruit calculated from the moment of harvest. For those who want to preserve cantaloupe for long-term consumption, this is important:
Less than 15 days-poor keeping quality.
Up to 30 days-poor keeping quality.
Up to 60 days-average.
Up to 90 days-ripe varieties.
More than 90 days – very stable.
Early summer varieties can be kept for up to one month. Medium ripe melons can be kept for up to 3 months. However, special varieties may “lie” for up to six months.
The aroma and sweetness of cantaloupe depend not only on the characteristics of the variety but also on weather conditions, harvesting period, and good agricultural techniques.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF CANTALOUPE
Cantaloupe melon is mostly eaten fresh. However, it has a good flavor, both cooked and dried, and processed into jams, honey, preserves, marmalades, and pickling juices. Its seeds are dried and made with milk and black moss and processed into oil by cold pressing.
The oil has a pale yellow hue and an unbonded cantaloupe flavor. It has been found to be used in cooking homemade baked goods, pancakes, and pancakes, as a seasoning for vitamin vegetable salads, and as an additive to marinades.
Cantaloupe fruits are tonic, diuretic, gallbladder, and laxative blocking hardening. They contain vitamins C, B6, carotenoids, folic acid and niacin, and readily assimilate iron salts.
They are commonly used in dietary nutrition to treat diseases of the kidney, liver, cardiovascular system, excessive fatigue, gout, obesity, hemorrhoids, anemia, and are recommended as antihelminthics.
Cantaloupe seeds are used to treat kidney and liver diseases, improve intestinal flora, nervous system, treat chronic cough (as diuretic and laxative), normalize cholesterol levels, fight inflammation and stimulate secretion in nursing mothers.
The seeds are rich in minerals and trace elements and contain valuable fats and proteins.
Melon seed oil is rich in fatty acids and other substances beneficial to the body. Because of its useful components, it is recommended as an anti-allergy and general tonic for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, improvement of the gastrointestinal tract and liver, lowering cholesterol levels, and supporting the nervous system.
Although there are many practicalities and recommendations for the long-term use of melon, it is not recommended to eat a lot of cantaloupe at once, as this can cause colic or cause severe weakening of the intestinal tract.
Melon pulp and seeds are also used in cosmetic procedures. The soft pulp mask not only nourishes well but also tones the skin of the face, lips, and hands. The broth of the seeds gently makes it white.
FEATURES OF CANTALOUPE CULTIVATION
As already mentioned, cantaloupe likes sunlight very much. Therefore, when choosing a place for this culture, it is necessary to give priority to open areas, southern slopes, and places that are not exposed to cold winds. Lack of lighting can lead to a decrease in the number and quality of fruit set in the plant.
Moreover, cantaloupe prefers warmth. Its seeds begin to germinate when the soil temperature rises to 15°C (59°F), preferably 24°C (75.2°F).
If the soil temperature drops below 15°C (59°F) after sowing, they will only rot and germinate and are usually affected by Endemic Arsenism, a biogeochemical disease. Cantaloupe does not like sharp temperature fluctuations.
Therefore, it can be grown in greenhouses or with sheds both during transplanting and at the end of summer in areas where cultivation is at risk.
Cantaloupe prefers spacious places. In order to form a complete crop, a sufficiently large nutrient area is needed, so it is not possible to thicken the planting.
Cantaloupe soils are light, well-tilled, nutrient-rich, have a neutral response and good air and water permeability, making them more desirable.
Thus, after these plantings (which can be beans, cabbage, corn, garlic or onions, winter cereals), the fall crop planting area can be well replanted with added fertilizer and also with sand added to the clay soil.
Melon planting method
In the south, cantaloupe seeds are sown in the soil. During a short summer, they grow through the seedlings in a warm planting bed. In order to give her time to ripen, mature varieties and hybrids are selected, from seedling to first fruit ripening in about 75 days.
Cantaloupes were pre-cured, immersed in wet gauze, and placed in pots, taking into account that the plants could be planted in the ground only after the threat of frost appeared at 28-30 days of age.
Since the culture painfully endures damage to the root system, take containers with a diameter of 10 cm (3.93inch) for sowing or plant them in peat mounds or bags.
Cantaloupe seeds are pre-disinfected, soaked in moist gauze, and then placed in jars taking into account… the soil in the plant, which can be planted only under the threat of 28-30 days of return frost.
As the crop is sensitive to root damage, plant in containers with a diameter of 10 cm (3.93inch), or in peat peas or bags.
Seeds of cantaloupe germinate preferably not in the last year of collection, but 2 to 5 years before.
Water the seedlings at the roots. Make sure there are no temperature differences and that the plants are well ventilated.
Fertilize the seedlings twice during their growth period with a compound fertilizer, after the appearance of two true leaves and after two weeks. If necessary, supplement the plants with light to provide 12 hours of sunlight per day.
Harden the seedlings for 2 weeks with 3 to 6 true leaves by raising the temperature to 15°C (59°F) in open soil and avoiding the risk of repeated freezing in the seedlings for two weeks.
And follow the instructions below to plant carefully and without deepening in open soil. According to the plan 70x70cm (27.5×27.5inch), 140x70cm (55.1×27.5inch), 100x50cm (39.3×19.6inch), depending on the potential of the variety.
A temporary membrane shelter was built on a ridge in a dangerous agricultural area. This allowed the seedlings to take root and start growing faster.
Sowing seeds on open ground
Seeds were sown directly into a fixed position by burying them to a depth of 3 cm (1.18inch) and placing 2-3 seeds in holes spaced a certain distance apart from each other.
To promote seedling emergence, the sown area is covered with a film. When the plants grow some, weak plants are removed and only the developed ones remain.
Formation of cantaloupe in the field
To get a good crop, cantaloupe needs to be formed in hybrid plants where more female flowers are formed on third-order lateral branches, so they clamp the main lashes above the 4th leaf and then the lateral lashes above the 2nd-4th.
Afterward, when it is clear which buds are the strongest, only they are left on the plant (no more than 3) and the rest will be removed.
In hybrid plants, the main crop is located on the main stem, so the lateral branches above the second leaf are pinched. In addition, in a short summer, only 2-3 fruits are left on each plant just a short distance apart from each other.
Special attention should be paid to watering in melon farming techniques. This melon prefers dry, hot climates, therefore, too much soil moisture can make the melon unsatisfactory.
Therefore, if it is watered regularly before flowering, it will absorb the required water from the soil if necessary with little watering after flowering. When the fruit is ripe, watering is abandoned completely.
During the development period, the melon will be fertilized three times: two weeks after the underground seedlings, when the first flowers are eliminated, and in time before fruiting.
For the supplementary fertilization, only organic fertilizers were used, since it has been noted that mineral fertilizers significantly affect the size of the melons, but at the same time do not allow them to acquire a sweet taste.
At maturity it is useful to spread ash around the plants – this is potassium fertilizer, which prevents fungal diseases and eliminates pests.
Growing cantaloupe in a greenhouse
Cantaloupe can also be grown in a greenhouse. This method is very useful in places where there is simply no time to ripen them or where they are harvested earlier.
In this case, if you do not plan to form bushes, plant melons in two rows in a checkerboard pattern at 45cm (17.7inch) intervals, or watermelons in rows with 100cm (39.3inch) indentations between plants.
Each plant was tied together. To increase yields, form plants by hand and pollinate them.
For pollination on dry, cool mornings, pluck a male flower, remove the petals from it, and touch the rest of the center to the center of a fully open female flower.
The process is repeated several times, replacing the male flowers. Or they transfer pollen with a soft paintbrush or cotton swab.
The plants are formed first by spiking the rootstock with more than 4 leaves, and then again by cutting the edge shoots on the roots with more than 2-3 pieces.
In total, 2-3 stems remain on the plant, each with 1-3 fruits. In the large-fruited varieties, the melons are placed in a net and suspended, or tied under the stems. To avoid rotting, they were placed on the ground with a wooden board.
PESTS AND DISEASES OF CANTALOUPE
Modern varieties and hybrids of a cantaloupe each h are sufficiently resistant to diseases. However, in conditions of high humidity and heat, cantaloupe can encounter anthracnose, sporotrichosis, powdery mildew, and angular blotch disease.
- Anthracnose or copperhead is a fungal disease. It develops actively in high humidity. It starts as brownish-red spots and dark edges on the leaves, which eventually fuse with each other. It shows up as ulcerative sores on the stems. In dry weather, the affected areas rupture; in high humidity, they rot. After severe damage, the leaves dry out and the plant dies.
- Dendrosporum (sporotrichosis) or olive spot is a fungal disease. It manifests itself as a drop in temperature, prolonged rain, fogging, and thick dew – in the form of irregularly shaped dark, drooping tear spots that gradually grow on the entire leaf. At the same time, jelly-like droplets are found on the fruit, and in these places tearing ulcers appear. The ulcers gradually deepen and are covered with gray olive blossoms.
- Powdery mildew is a fungal disease. It is activated at the beginning of summer by fluctuations in temperature and humidity. It is determined by whitening inflorescences on leaves, petioles, branches, and sometimes even melons.
- Cuticular blotch is a bacterial disease. It appears at high humidity. It can be recognized by small angular oozing spots on the lower surface of the leaf plates, which appear as a milky discharge at high humidity. Upon drying, this discharge forms a white crust. The spots then turn brown and acquire a yellow margin. After the spots fall off, holes form in the leaves. Infected fruits are deformed and affected by wet rot.
- Red spider. This pest cannot be identified with the naked eye, but it is easily recognized by its symptoms: slender spider webs appear in the axils of the leaves, and white spots on the leaves grow into small blotches. After severe damage, the leaves suddenly turn yellow and dry and the plant dies.
- Cantaloupe aphid. Small yellowish or green sucking insects, about 2 mm long. severely depletes the plant and inhibits its development.
- Omnivorous ladybird. The most destructive are the caterpillars that live near the soil surface. Eating the stems from the inside, cause the plant to die. They are gray in color and about 4 cm long.
- The iron nematode (larvae of beetles) is a small luminous insect with yellow body segments. It lives in the soil and has three pairs of thoracic legs. It is mainly harmful to the roots of melons. If rooted, the plant may die.
- Cantaloupe fly. It has a yellow body, about 6 mm long, with transparent wings with brown stripes. It lays its eggs under the skin of the fruit. The larvae that feed on the flesh of the melon cause damage and rot. Damage to the fruit by the melon fly can be determined by its appearance – small bumps are found on its skin.
HOW TO STORE CANTALOUPE
The green melons are not yet ripe, so they only need to be harvested when the fruit is fully ripe.
After harvesting the ripe fruits of cantaloupe, I really want to keep them for as long as possible. However, it is no accident that the melons are only sold on the market shelves during the season.
Storing it brings difficulties and additional costs, and not every variety can lie for as long as six months.
The easiest way to preserve melons in winter is to freeze the pulp cut into thin slices. For this purpose, it is best to use a freezer with a temperature of -18°C (-0.4°F).
In this case, cantaloupe will freeze quickly and retain as much vitamins as possible for up to 12 months.
It is best to store the blanks in special bags with fasteners or resealable containers so that small portions of cantaloupe do not lose moisture and do not absorb odors.
When choosing the variety to store, it is best to choose fruits with a dense, sweet flesh. The best choice here is the cantaloupe variety, but in principle others will do.
Many housewives also freeze unsweetened cantaloupe (so as not to throw it away). Such thawed blanks, although unsweetened, are perfect for vitamin smoothies – they can thicken the drink very well and give it texture.
When freezing, it is not necessary to slice the melon thinly; you can freeze both the usual ration of slices and balls of melon flesh.
However, you should not try to keep the whole fruit or half of it in the freezer; in this version, the flesh will freeze unevenly, which can seriously affect quality when defrosting.
To prepare a healthy “milk” from melons, you can also freeze melons. To do this, they must be separated in a separate bag and placed in the freezer.
Many people have a question: Is it possible to keep melons in the refrigerator without freezing them? In cold times, cantaloupe gradually becomes sticky and watery.
Therefore, you do not want to keep them at low temperatures, even if you cut them, but it is better to keep them at room temperature. However, you can still hide them in the refrigerator for a short time.
To do this, the cut fruit must be placed in a container with an airtight lid – in this state, it will remain for two days.
The whole melon can be kept in the bottom of the refrigerator for more than a week. But longer storage time in these conditions is undesirable, because ethylene accumulates in the flesh of the melon at low temperatures.
You can also keep cantaloupe in a cool place inside your apartment. To do this, it must be completely intact, preferably of the dead variety.
To know how ripe a cantaloupe is, its smell will help. If the fruit has a strong aroma, it is edible. If it is fragile, even with an elastic nose – the flesh is still hard – it needs to be allowed to ripen.
To keep cantaloupe in the basement, keep cantaloupe, potatoes and other vegetables away from it, as it will strongly absorb odors, so place it on a soft mat so that the fruits do not come in contact with each other and with the walls of the room.
You should not place cantaloupe next to apples because apples produce ethylene and therefore the area will accelerate its aging.
Straw, sand, grain, ash, and sawdust are used as soft bedding. It was easier to place the softened material in the box and place the cantaloupe deep into the stalk where it was located.
The “spots” left on the peduncle are covered with a layer of paraffin wax for better preservation. Check the melons every month to discard the rotten ones.