Honeydew melons are very easy to grow and make an excellent choice for a new gardener. You might confuse them with cantaloupes though; honeydew mainly differs from cantaloupe in terms of flesh color, with honeydew having light green flesh, while cantaloupe has light orange flesh. Use these tips for planting and growing honeydew melons so you can enjoy a fresh crop of melons this summer.
The best time to plant honeydew is 1-2 weeks after all danger of frost has passed. Both honeydew and cantaloupe need dry and warm soil to grow and thus do best when the weather starts turning warmer – which is typically after early spring.
Select a location that is in full sun and will provide plenty of space for the vines to grow. The vines will reach 6 feet in length when they are mature. They can be trained to grow in certain directions to keep them more compact but the vines will still require ample growing space.
Prepare the Soil
Honeydew melons need soil that is loose, well-draining, and fertile. Working compost into the soil before planting will provide all that the melons need to thrive. Add 2-4 inches of compost on top of the garden soil and turn it under to 6-8 inches. For growing honeydew melons, keep the soil slightly acidic. Most melons prefer a slightly acidic soil between pH 6 – 6.5.
Prepare Planting Mounds
Honeydew plants grow best when the seeds are planted in mounds. Create mounds in the prepared garden soil that are 6-inches tall and 6-inches wide. These soil mounds (also called hills) allow better drainage and keep the soil warmer for germinating seeds and growing seedlings.
You can also setup trellises for the melon vines to twirl around on, and in fact, trellises help provide additional growing space and increase the airflow around the melons, thus helping to prevent fungal problems. When the fruits start developing on the trellis, you can support their weight by tying them to the trellis; otherwise the developing fruits could pull the whole vine down.
Honeydew melons are warm-season crops and grow best when soil and air temperatures are above 70 degrees F. An ideal soil temperature would be something between 70 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit (21°C – 32°C).
After all danger of frost has passed and soil is warm in the spring, create two holes in the top of each mound. The holes should be 1/2 inch deep and 1-inch apart. Place 1 seed in each hole, cover lightly with soil, and water thoroughly.
Planting 2 seeds in each mound ensure that at least 1 seed will germinate. If both seeds germinate, remove one seedling after it has reached 4-inches tall.
Water and Mulch
Honeydews need consistent moisture. Keep soil moist with frequent watering. But do not overwater in the lead up to harvest if you want your fruits to taste sweeter. Honeydew melons consume much water when developing, but taste best if they are forced to ripen under drier conditions. Water in the morning so that the soil can dry out by the evening – which helps minimize fungal diseases.
Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch on the soil to retain moisture and prevent weed growth. For mulch, you can also use black plastic sheets to both cover the soil and suppress weeds.
Honeydew melons are ready to harvest when the vine tendrils dry out, the stem turns yellow, and the rind turns cream in color. The vines of honeydew are attractive and produce large blooms that attract pollinators – in this case, bees. Honeydew blooms are yellow in color. Both male and female blooms grow on the same vine, but the male blooms cannot develop into fruits and will fall off. After pollinating the female blooms, the small bulb at the base of the flower will then develop into the honeydew melon.
It will take 65-100 days to go from seed planting to harvest. The usual ripening time for honeydew is late summer or early to mid-fall. A few weeks before harvest, water them less. This concentrates the sugar in the melons and makes them sweeter. Harvest by cutting off the melons from the vines in the morning, and let them further ripen for a few more days at room temperature.
Hopefully, all these tips and pointers help you in growing honeydew melons in your own home garden.
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