Melon Watch

There’s a thread for watermelons, this one is for cucumis melons - cantaloupes, honeydews and the like

Watermelons present one set of problems determining if they’re ripe, while cucumis… melons are in many cases [not honeydews, alas] easier in that regard - they turn color, and then you’ve got to pick them NOW

They are, however, quite prone to splitting - I gave up on Savor charentais for that reason and now grow hybrid varieties

Here in N IL, it can be hard to get melons ripe before the season winds down. I engage in all sorts of obsessive tactics to get melons in August, like trialling earlier varieties. This year, I’ve got several out there ripening, so naturally our July dry spell has ended in one flooding rain after the other. Now it’s a race between ripening and splitting.

At least twice a day I go check the melons I think most likely to ripen first [a Galia type called Diplomat] Are you yellow yet?

At least that one I can see, because the vines of this variety aren’t very vigorous for some reason this year. Next to it, a charentais hybrid has vines so thick it’s impossible to find the fruit - made more difficult because I’ve netted the melon patch to deter the varmints, which have been raiding the garden a lot this year.

As soon as the Diplomat turns, I’ll start checking the others more closely. Tomorrow it’s August

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As a new gardener ( 2nd year ) I am very interested in any recommendations of melons, especially those that will ripen in the north. This year I planted two small melons; Golden Jenny and Sweetness 132.

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Aside from Diplomat, I’m growing 2 charentais hybrids - Escorial and Alvaro - both have been sucessful here in previous years

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Everything you said is sooo true. And while I think I’m pretty good with watermelons, I’ve never done as well with cantaloupes (down here we call almost everything in this class cantaloupes, so forgive me if you see me make that error. I know the difference but tend to lump them into that category anyway). My problems are all at the end of season, but instead of a race against frost, mine is a race to get melons ripe before powdery mildew and cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and so on. I always get hit very late- just about ripening time. Anyway, I look forward to following your results. Here is what I have in my garden this year:

banana melon (I enjoy these and they do well for me)
Charentais melon (don’t know the more specific breed it is, Baker Creek just calls it Charentais)
Collective Farm Woman (heard good things so I’m anxious to see how they do, its my first year)
Crenshaw Melon - 2nd year- last year they weren’t very sweet
Hales best 45 melon (a standard cantaloupe I usually do ok with)
Honey Dew Tam Dew melon - Were not at all good last year, only planted them because I had left over seeds. In fact, I
have just awful luck getting any honey dews to sweeten up. I can grow beautiful melons that taste just awful!
Old TIme Tennessee Mushmelon - one of my favorites. These are HUGE HUGE and taste good too.

That sounds like a lot but I only have 3-6 of each, so really not all that many melons in total, at least not compared to my 200 or so watermelons.


I’ve been harvesting Savor Charentais for nearly two months. About half have split as they mature. Most of those I’ve eaten after a little trimming. Still have at least ten left. Quality has been good to great.


Do you think I could grow them in Kansas?

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More than I have, and I can’t eat all I get

Yeah, you can cut out the split parts and the bugs and still get good eating from them - if they’re not totally exploded open

They really are good fruit

But it’s why you need to keep checking so often

Shoot I don’t know. They are a harder to grow than watermelons. If you do try some cantaloupe as well to improve your chances of a good harvest.

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I can grow hales best jumbos and I should probably stick with them. I know those like the back of my hand. Grown them since I was a kid. Always tempting to try something I haven’t but it doesn’t usually work out.

This year I grew Honey Blonde and Honey Orange melons from Johnny’s Seeds. They are easy to grow and early. I thought they’d be small but they are good size, One is pale, almost white on the outside and light orange on the inside, but tastes like a honeydew. They other is yellow on the outside, kinda pale on the inside and tastes like a cantaloupe. Both are smooth on the outside, not netted. I harvested one of each. Both were a solid B/B+ even though they could have ripened a bit more. Everything about them sounds promising for northern growers, but neither slips off of the vine when ripe. I should harvest more in the next week. I will definitely try them again next year in richer soil. After I harvested a Blacktail Mountain watermelon nearby yesterday, I pulled the vine up since there was only one melon. That melon tasted good, but when I pulled the vine I noticed the root ball wasn’t much bigger than a softball. All my melons were planted in similar soil. (A load of topsoil purchased from a local landcape supplier, placed in a large raised bed.)

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Earliness is totally key for me with the short growing season - if I see a variety labeled to be a week earlier, I’ll try it

To me cantaloupes are one of the easiest things to grow. In all of the
years I’ve been growing them, I’ve never had one split, and have never
had cucumber beetles nor mildew. I posted a picture of my cantaloupe
patch earlier. I’ve already completed my first harvest and the second one
is due any day. With the combined heat and drought that we’re having, I’m
getting some of the biggest and sweetest melons you could ask for.
I’ve never grown charentais, because they’re prone to split, so why grow
them, unless you like complaining about them splitting. Maybe that’s a
little harsh, but every year we hear these same complaints. There are many varieties that are just about bullet proof, but I guess people like to experiment with melons that have fancy names. Cantaloupes are the easiest fruits to tell, when they are ripe. First, it has to turn color, but most importantly, it has to easily slip off the vine. If it doesn’t do that, it isn’t ripe. But once it’s ripe, it has to be harvested immediately, or it will rot the next day.


Why, because they are a very good melon and I’m not complaining.

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I grew the variety of melons for the several years and each year just before ripening they got bacterial wilt and died. Sometimes I even managed to get the first ripe melon from them but that’s it. The cucumber beetles do not bother me that much, there are just a few of them here and there, but they still spread the disease and cause the melons to die. This year I covered the whole patch with bug netting, I hand pollinated melons and put a lot Sevin dust on the leaves. It actually helped and I have my first cantaloupes now. The melons still got some bacterial wilt, but at least I have the ripe melons. And the plants still look good
The problem for me that the melons, although fully ripe, taste not sweet. The weather at the last 2-3 weeks was sunny, hot and dry enough. They grow in the full sun, in the good soil, they are definitely ripe and the smell of the ripe cantaloupes is really strong, but the taste is very bland. The same is with the honeydew, I just threw it in the trash.
Watermelons have the same problems, they are just slightly better than melons, but also are not sweet.
I think that bacterial wilt might still affect the plants to some degree so they have not enough energy to store sugars.

It might be the varieties you’re growing. Some varieties are just
plain duds, while others are keepers.

For the flavor! They really do make ordinary cantaloupes seem insipid by comparison

Oddly, the first couple of years I grew Savor, I didn’t have a splitting problem, but it just got worse in later years. I’m not sure how much “real charentais” is in Alvaro and Escorial, but Escorial is netted

One reason I obsess about melon earliness is to beat the diseases, which tend to come late in the season

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Alvaro was first - Charentais not Galia

The color was clearly turning about noon. I thought of leaving it overnight to get a bit more ripe, but after consideration of the perils, cut it off.

Melons all August!

I’d post a photo, but my computer doesn’t want to

@rayrose, not sure if you already said this, but what varieties do you like to grow?