How to Grow Cantaloupes

This cantalope volunteered itself in my berry patch so I gave it an arbor for support.

This cantalope volunteered itself in my berry patch so I gave it an arbor for support.

How to Grow Cantaloupes

Over the years I’ve heard how hard it is to grow cantaloupes in mid-Missouri. It’s almost as hard as watermelons requiring special sandy flower beds, particular compost and careful handling of their delicate leaves.

Although a favorite fruit of mine, I had given up even trying.

Then earlier this year I noticed something growing in an old flower bed where I had grown cucumbers last year. I had amended the bed with compost, which apparently included some unplanned seeds.

Midway through summer my handyman noted the cucumber was getting a bit wide around the waist. When I got a close up look, it was obvious this fruit was a “good, old-fashioned” cantaloupe.

To make sure the fruit was safe as it grew, I tucked a little piece of cardboard underneath and wondered who would get to the ripe fruit first, “Cousin George” the raccoon or I.

Cutting up my first ever homegrown cantaloupe into bite-sized pieces.

Cutting up my first ever homegrown cantaloupe into bite-sized pieces.

Yey, I beat Cousin George to this cantaloupe. I cut into it about 5 minutes after it was checked for a sweet smell on the bottom, a sign it is ripe and ready to pick.

This dark spot on the bottom was only on the surface and was easily removed.

This dark spot on the bottom was only on the surface and was easily removed.

Once in my kitchen and sliced, I was delightfully surprised at how it tasted. It was surprisingly rich, a nice change from the pre-frozen fruit we often get at our local grocery stores.

Another cracked spot on the bottom was cut out for easy slicing.

Another cracked spot on the bottom was cut out for easy slicing.

So how to grow cantaloupes? Save the seeds and toss them in a flower bed corner that has been amended with aged compost.

Having an old trellis handy helps to keep the leaves damaged from growing on the ground and keeps them safe from garden visitors like the rabbits I often see visiting the area. Then mark your calendar to try to beat wildlife to the ripe fruit.

Charlotte