Melon and Canteloupe
Melons / Canteloupes, are large edible fruit that requires a humid environment and temperatures of 16°C (60°F) or above for good results, meaning, they are best grown in a greenhouse in the UK.
The most commonly grown group in the UK is the Cantaloupe.
They require a well drained soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0.
They are heavy feeders and require a lot of space, if planting in the greenhouse border keep them at least 1 metre (39") apart.
Week 12: Sow seed on edge into 70mm (3") pots of seed compost and germinate at a temperature of 18°C (65°F)
Alternatively, sow a number of seeds in a tray.
circa Week 14: Prick out the strongest seedlings into individual 70mm (3") pots of potting compost.
Week 18: Ensure the plants do not become pot-bound, pot up to 150 mm (6”) pots if necessary.
Week 22: When the plants have reached the fifth leaf stage, plant them out into a well prepared greenhouse border or 250mm (10”) pots of potting compost.
Insert a cane at this time to a number of horizontal wires at 300mm (1ft) centres, alternatively, use mesh.
These will support the lateral growths in due course.
Week 24-25: When the main stem has reached the top of the support, pinch out the growing tip.
As the plants grow taller, pinch out any side shoots in the same way as you would with tomatoes.
This procedure encourages further growth to focus on the main shoot, rather than side shoots.
Week 27-29: Male and female flowers develop on the secondary laterals, the female being distinguished by a swelling like a miniature melon just beneath the bloom.
When the first flowers begin to appear on your melon plants artificial pollination is necessary to set fruits,
One of the simplest ways of doing this it to use a small paintbrush.
Lightly brush the inside of each of the melon flowers with the brush to help spread the pollen.
After you’ve brushed the flowers, leave the plants for three to five days.
Midday or when the sun is at its highest is the best time for pollination.
If pollination has been successful you should now be able to see signs of a very small melon growing behind some of the flowers.
Any flowers that are not showing signs of growth, are usually male flowers and should be removed.
During early growth a humid atmosphere is essential, provide this by frequently damping down the greenhouse floor.
Avoid getting the leaves wet to reduce the risk of contracting mildew.
Normally when the fruits have reached their full size, less humidity is required.
On hot sunny days, lightly shade the glass; at all other times, let the plants have as much light as possible.
Week 30: When the fruits are about the size of a tennis ball, commence weekly feeding with a high potash liquid feed.
As the fruits grow larger, remove some of the leaves as necessary to give them growing space.
Stop feeding when the fruit is fully grown.
As the fruits become heavy, support them with nets attached to the greenhouse wires.
Fruits are ready to harvest when the skin turns from a shiny colour to a dull matt colour.
Squeezing the bottom of the fruit with your thumb is another way of testing for ripening.
If ripe, you will find that the skin will yield to the pressure subjected by your thumb.