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

Build Your Own Ripener

I saw one of these for sale in a gardening catalog and did a double-take. Ripening green tomatoes, or most other green fruits and vegetables, is not hard to do, and you certainly don't have to buy an expensive gadget to do it.

Easy to Ripen At Home

I use a brown bag inside a copper pot so that the bag can be stored on my counter. The key is adding a fruit - either an apple or banana, and sealing the brown bag so the natural gas ethylene, which fruits generate, will help ripen whatever is still green. I use this ripener to help mangos, guavas, tomatoes, and sometimes bananas and grapes get ripe. 

Check Often

Check once a week or so. Smaller fruits and vegetables like tomatoes may ripen faster than larger ones. Remove any tomatoes that are getting dry; others may start going brown. Also periodically replace the fruit - an apple may last for a couple of months before it needs to be replaced. Apples last longer than bananas in brown bags.

Remind Yourself to Check

I top the copper pot with a little glass plate and use it as a fruit plate. It's purely decorative but it is a good reminder to periodically check the brown bag. You can also just keep your green tomatoes, or other produce, in a brown bag in a dark cabinet corner. Tie a ribbon to the door knob to remind yourself to check it once a week or you won't want to try to ripen anything again.

How do you ripen your fruits and tomatoes?

Charlotte