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Melons are very popular because they taste sweet, juicy and have very few calories. Cultivation in your own garden can be successful if the location and care are right. Read here where and how melons grow.

In a nutshell

  • a distinction is made between watermelons and sugar melons
  • many different subspecies
  • both varieties require the same warm and sunny location
  • Absolutely avoid late frosts
  • Store immature harvested fruits in a warm place to ripen

Different types of melon

When the term melon is mentioned, most people automatically think of the large, very juicy watermelons that are red on the inside and which are a must for many in summer. Sugar melons, such as the tasty honeydew melon, are also well known. There are also some subspecies of both. But even if both are melon varieties that belong to the same plant family of the pumpkin family (Cucurbitaceae), there are still differences:

Watermelons (Citrullus lanatus)

  • belong to the small lemon cucumbers (Citrullus)

There are around 150 different types of watermelon, both small and very large. Varieties suitable for the local latitude are:

  • 'Crisby': forms medium to large fruits, striped variety
  • 'Mini-Love': small fruits
  • 'Gatinho'/'Tigrinho': small and seedless

Cantaloupe melon (Cucumis melo)

  • melo derived from the Greek word milo for apple
  • Short form of melopepon = apple melon
  • Cantaloupe is closely related to cucumbers

There are also many well-known varieties of cantaloupes that are also available in local shops:

  • Honeydew melon: smooth, yellow surface
  • Net melon: net-like cork ridges on the skin
  • Galia melon: Subspecies of the netted melon
  • Cantaloupe melons: can be recognized by longitudinal grooves
honeydew melon

Notice: In botany, the two varieties of cantaloupe and watermelon are not assigned to the same family group, even if they both belong to the superior family of the cucurbitaceae.

growth habit

All plants, whether watermelons or sugar melons, like the other plants belonging to the pumpkin family, need a lot of space:

  • Melon fruits grow meter high above the ground
  • need enough space
  • between one and two square meters per plant
  • Absolutely avoid shading by neighboring plants
  • four to eight fruits on each plant
  • depending on the variety, fruits are very large
  • lie on the ground
  • Heat from below very important
  • all melon varieties are annual plants

location and soil conditions

The location for both the sugar and watermelons should be designed the same. Since the fruit originally came to us from the warm areas around the Mediterranean, the melons need a lot of heat to grow:

  • sheltered location
  • very sunny
  • Wine-growing regions ideal
  • warm soil preferred
  • help, for example, with black foil
  • nutrient and humus rich soil
  • prepare with mature compost before plants
  • vigorous plants
  • well drained
  • neither too sandy nor too loamy

Tip: If you live in a harsher climate, you should prefer to grow the melons in a greenhouse so that they can grow.

Prepare melon bed

In order for the cultivation in your own garden to be successful at all and for the small plants to grow well, some preparations must be made on the selected bed. Be sure to follow these steps:

  • start three weeks before planting
  • Lay dark or black foil strips over the bed
  • Dig the edges well on both sides
  • Earth may already be warming up underneath
  • longer heat retention
  • Suppression of weed growth
  • reduces water evaporation

Tip: All melon varieties should be sown and grown in small pots due to the prevailing climate at this latitude, so that the small plants are only placed in the bed when night frosts are no longer to be expected.

Prefer melon plants

In March, the melon plants can be grown from seed. This works very well in a heated conservatory. If one is not available, a bright room can also be used under certain circumstances. In order for the melons to grow properly, the following conditions should also be met:

  • ideal room temperature between 22° and 25° degrees
  • high humidity
  • Apartment often too dry for cultivation
  • often only stunted growth of the seedlings
  • Alternative: purchase of young plants in the trade
  • often stronger and more vital

harvest time

When it comes to harvesting the tasty melons, it also depends on the prevailing weather. In a very hot, sunny summer and with good watering, the first fruits are ready in August, for example. Furthermore:

  • Harvest between August and September
  • with watermelons yellow coloring of the lying surface
  • first leaf before fruit withered
  • Ripeness of cantaloupe melons not recognizable by the skin
  • ripe fruits heavier than unripe ones
  • fully ripe sugar melons exude a sweet scent
  • reminiscent of sweet perfume
  • dark stalks on overripe fruits

Notice: Unripe melons that are harvested too early and then eaten too early, i.e. still unripe, can always have a slightly laxative effect.

frequently asked Questions

How do I properly care for my melons?

Sugar and watermelons must not dry out under any circumstances. Especially when there is a lot of sun and the soil under the foil is very warm, you have to ensure sufficient watering, especially when the first fruits are showing. The water must be able to penetrate to a depth of 20 centimetres. Regularly given liquid fertilizer supports the growth of the fruit.

How can I tell when a melon is ripe?

There is a very simple technique to find out whether the melons you grow yourself are ready to be harvested. The watermelons sound hollow when you tap the fruit. In contrast, the cantaloupe emits a dull sound. If both types of melon are still unripe, there is no noise.

What can I do if I harvested my melons too early?

If the melons, regardless of whether they are sugar melons or watermelons, were harvested too early and are not yet ripe, they can be stored in a warm place where they will continue to ripen. However, harvesting too early is at the expense of the sweet aroma.

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