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Cantaloupes are not an easy crop to grow. The mere presence of the sun is not enough, it must burn day after day - from morning to night. Only then do the spherical fruits come along with a really aromatic sweetness. Not so easy in our latitudes. But because we love these fruits so much, we never give up hope. An exceptional summer and a greenhouse could still make our melon dream come true.
Open field or glass house
The seed of a cantaloupe is best in one in this country Glasshouse canceled. Light and warmth are her daily elixir of life, but nobody can guarantee her outdoors. If you do not have such a plant house, but have plenty of space in the bed, you can still try the cultivation. In milder areas and warm summers, there is a good chance that the fruit will ripen with good care.
notice: Despite the pronounced sweetness, the cantaloupe is not a type of fruit, as is widely believed. Rather, it belongs to the pumpkin family and is therefore a relative of zucchini.
The best outdoor location
Sugar melons have it easier outdoors in mild climates than in harsh regions. However, the sunniest place in the bed should always be reserved for it. It should also be sheltered from the wind. Black mulch film keeps the heat in the ground, giving the plant a few extra degrees.
tip: Outdoors, you can easily grow one of the new small-fruited varieties that ripen faster.
Cultivation of Cucumis melo, as this climbing plant is scientifically called, must begin early and be optimally supported throughout the growing season. With the best equipment in the greenhouse, they can be grown more productively:
- continuous ventilation option
- independent heating
- an integrated frost monitor
- automatic drip irrigation
Once you have found the right place for your sugar melons, you have to decide on one or more varieties.
- Yellow and smooth on the outside, white-greenish on the inside
- sweet with a fresh touch
- e.g. B. Galia
- net-like covered with rough lines
- spherical, changes from green to yellow
- Flesh is sweet and white-green in colour
- oval, dark green with yellow furrows
- crunchy and sweet in taste
- round with a greenish skin
- Flesh is bright orange
- tastes aromatic and juicy
- Carentais is a well-known variety
Cucumis melo is among the most demanding plants that we can grow in our garden. Above all, the ideal soil must offer the melons plenty of nutrients. This is how he can be aptly described:
- nutritious, loose and moist
- permeable to water, does not tend to waterlogging
- keeps the heat even
- pH ranges from 6 to 6.8
However, loamy soils are not suitable for thirsty melons and must be loosened up with drainage.
When late frosts are lurking, however, it becomes uncomfortable for this cold-sensitive plant in an unheated room. So that she doesn't lose any valuable time, the cultivation should start in a warm place from March. This also applies when cultivated outdoors. Unpredictable outside temperatures only allow direct sowing from mid-May. The time she has left could then become scarce to give her fruit the final touch of taste.
1. Fill small seed pots with a mixture of potting soil and regular garden soil.
2. Plant a seed about 1 to 2 cm deep in each pot.
3. Gently press down the soil and water with lukewarm water.
4. Cover the pots with a heat-insulating film that lets light through.
5. Place the pots on the window sill of a south-facing window and preferably over a heater. Make sure that the temperature is in the range of 25 °C.
6. Keep the soil consistently moist but not too wet.
7. After a few days the seeds will germinate and the first leaves will follow. Now remove the foil cover.
Melons form long tendrils that can spread out in all directions on the ground. For reasons of space, you can also pull melons up. This has the additional advantage that the foliage is protected from soil moisture that promotes rot.
- pull on trellis or cords
- catch heavy fruit with nets
- lay ripening melons on boards, styrofoam or straw
The care of the small muskmelons must continue in their warm place until mid-May, the time of the moving has come. The tender plants can now be transplanted into a glass house or into a sunny bed.
- Plant carefully, root system is sensitive
- Planting distance is 80 x 80 cm
- first protect from the blazing sun
- set up straw or bast mats for this
The water thirst is enormous and so the watering can is hardly allowed to take a break. The specimens in the greenhouse are even more demanding in this respect, after all they grow faster in the heat.
- water regularly
- as required on cool days
- every day on hot days
- more frequently in autumn, but with smaller quantities
- always use lukewarm water
- Rainwater or stagnant tap water are ideal
- only water in the morning
- Moisture on the plant makes it susceptible to fungal pathogens
- spare the immediate root area
- Do not wet leaves with water
- installed drip hoses optimally
- keep humidity low
tip: Avoid both over- and under-supply with water, otherwise the fruit quality will suffer. The soil is ideally watered when the moisture has penetrated 20 cm deep.
No matter how nutrient-rich the soil was when the cantaloupe melons started their new life, regular fertilizer applications cannot be dispensed with. Because they belong to the so-called heavy feeders, who eat the soil to the dregs.
- organic fertilizer is ideal
- such as compost or manure
- can be dissolved with irrigation water
- liquid fertilizer is also suitable
- fertilize weekly during the growing season
Hoe and weed
The Cucumis melo does not need competition for the limited nutrients either. Especially outdoors, burgeoning weeds must be pulled out of the ground as quickly as possible. Regular hoeing also aerates the soil and ensures good moisture absorption.
In the feel-good environment of their homeland, melons can be left to nature's course. They produce plenty of everything: shoots and fruits. In this country, some parts of the plant have to give way. The gardener's fingers are the best tool. Shallow-growing melons are pruned in June as follows:
- Cut off the main shoot before the sixth leaf
- pinch newly emerging side shoots as well
- after about 8 to 10 leaves
- further branches follow
- female flowers form
tip: As soon as the fruits are stronger, 2 to 3 leaves on the fruit shoots are sufficient to feed them. The shoot tips are simply pinched off with your fingers.
However, melons that are intended to climb upwards need a long main shoot. Therefore, the sharpening is carried out differently for them.
- Let the main stem grow long
- remove all lower side shoots
- up to a height of 80 cm
- Leave a maximum of five fruits per plant
In a greenhouse, busy bees do not flutter and buzz like they do outdoors. Despite numerous flowers, there are no fruits in sight. Unless you help out and bring the male and female flowers together. Pick up the pollen from the male flower with a soft brush and then brush it over the stigma of the female flower.
The morning is the most promising time for successful fertilization. Incidentally, you can recognize female flowers by a thickening below the yellow flower.
The first varieties already deliver their fruits at the end of July. An aromatic scent is often dispatched as a harbinger of maturity. But there are other signs that speak for an imminent harvest:
- The base of the stem forms circular or radiating cracks
- Sugar droplets emerge from these cracks
- the typical exterior color is of a strong tone
- species-typical patterns have developed
Cut off the stem with a sharp knife or scissors. Because tearing the fruit can damage other parts of the plant.
Diseases & Pests
On the one hand, melons absorb a lot of water with their roots, on the other hand, they prefer dry air. If this is too moist, fungal diseases such as fusarium wilt and powdery mildew can spread. Keep your melon plants healthy by following these tips:
- keep sufficient planting distance
- do not grow after other cucurbits
- Spray manure from field horsetail as a preventive measure
- every two weeks, three days in a row
- grow varieties resistant to powdery mildew
- comply with four-year crop rotation
Despite the best care, they appear more frequently in the greenhouse aphids wide and migrate from plant to plant. The use of chemicals can still be avoided. Lacewings can quickly eliminate this pest if released in time. They can be ordered over the Internet and are completely harmless to people and plants.
Red spiders, on the other hand, are eaten by predatory mites. These can also be obtained from the Internet. Even if their name sounds a bit scary, they are only useful animals for us humans.