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Cucumis melo var. reticulatus
Muskmelons include the green-fleshed and orange-fleshed melons. We currently offer no true cantaloupes, often confused with muskmelons.
Culture: Melons require a loose, warm, sandy loam of pH 7 to reach their full potential. They will not thrive on soil that is below pH 6, nor will they thrive in peat, muck, or heavy clay soil. An even supply of water is necessary through pollination and early fruit-set, and the soil should be well supplied with nutrient-rich compost. Space plants 12-18" apart in rows 5-6' apart.
Seed Watering Notes: Be careful not to overwater germinating seeds or they may rot. It's best to soak the ground or the potting soil heavily when first planting, then avoid watering again if possible until seedlings emerge. (For seeds in potting soil, keep them warm but out of direct sunlight so that they don't dry out so fast.) Muskmelon seeds emerge in 5+ days; very lightly water ground or potting soil around day 3 or 4 to keep soil from crusting so that seeds can emerge more easily.
Direct Seeding: Once soil temperature averages 70 degrees F, sow seeds 1/2-3/4 in. deep, 1-2 in. apart, in rows 5-6 ft. apart, thinning to 12-18 in. apart.
Transplants: The root system of melons should be disturbed as little as possible; therefore, start seed in pots, not flats. Sow seeds 1/2 in. deep, 2-3 seeds per pot. Cut off weak seedlings at the base to avoid disturbing roots. Seeds germinate best at 85-90 degrees F (29-32 degrees C). Maintain seedlings at 75 degrees F or higher. Harden plants before setting out, and take care not to disturb fragile roots when transplanting. Since melon transplants are fussy, hold back a few seedlings for filling in any gaps in the row as they appear.
Harvest: When ripe, most varieties of melon slip from the vine in response to thumb pressure at the base of the stem. Ripe melons also develop a sweet aroma, and an ivory-yellow coloring.
Flavor: Flavor development begins in the last two weeks before peak ripeness; knowledge of proper harvest time is important. Cool, wet, cloudy conditions may cause melons to lose flavor.
Diseases: Controlling or preventing disease is not a problem in every area or in every year, but if you have problems with diseases it is best to rely on disease resistant or tolerant varieties.
Insect Pests: Control of cucumber beetles may be necessary to prevent the beetles from introducing bacterial wilt. Control cucumber beetles with an Amaranth trap crop. See cucumber section for more on cucumber beetles.
Animal Pests: Raccoons, groundhogs, and other critters love melons. Fence off melons, or buy a supermarket melon and set out a trap in the melon patch before the main crop is ready in order to catch or relocate any critters.
Solar Greenhouse Notes: Mildew tolerance is important and pollination is necessary for fruit set. Soap sprays can be used to control mealybugs, whiteflies, and aphids, but foliage of the squash and melon family may be injured by soap. Test the spray on a few leaves before spraying the entire plant.
Seed Savers: Isolate melons by a minimum of 1/8 mile for home use, or 1/2 to 1 mile for pure seed.
Packet: 2g unless otherwise stated (approximately 50 to 90 seeds, depending on variety) sows 25-50'.