Now Sowing: Melon, Cucumis Melo (April-Jul15)
Common Name: Melon, Casaba, Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Muskmelon, Crenshaw, Armenian Cucumber
Planting: Cucumis melo is a vining annual plant and needs room to sprawl. Not ideal for small gardens. Sow seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep after all danger of frost is past and when soil is warm. Space 24-36 inches by 5-7 ft for melon hills.
Harvesting: Melons require a long growing season of 80 to 100 days from seed to fruit. They are slightly sweet when ripe for picking and the flesh is firm, but will give a little under pressure. Muskmelons are harvested at full-slip; when the stem separates easily at the point of attachment. Honeydew, Crenshaw, and Casaba melons are cut off after they turn completely yellow.
Seed Saving: Cucumis melo bears 1-inch yellow flowers and bees are the primary pollinating insects. Therefore, varieties must be isolated from one another (800 feet is recommended). Seeds develop in the central cavity of the fruit and are mature when the fruit is ripe for eating. Simply scoop out seeds, rinse clean, dry with towel, and spread on board or coffee filter to complete drying.
Sources: The Seed Garden: the Art and Practice of Seed Saving (2015) by Seed Savers Exchange, seedsave.org/index.php/save/seed-saving-instructions/experienced, ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/vegetable/melons.html
Books and ebooks:
- Honeydew Melon, University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, opens a new window
- Honeydew, SNAP-ED Connection, U.S. Department of Agriculture, opens a new window
- Cantaloupe, University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, opens a new window
- Cantaloupe and Muskmelon, SNAP-ED Connection, U.S. Department of Agriculture, opens a new window
Recipe: Aqua Fresca de Honey
- 10 c peeled honeydew melon hunks
- 1 c fresh lime juice
- 1 c sugar
- 8 cups water
- One 10-pound bag of ice
- Garnish fresh honeydew or lime wedges (optional)
Add the melon in batches to a food processor or blend and puree until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides. Add the lime juice and sugar and process again. Pour the melon mixture into a large serving container. Add the water and ice to the desired consistency and mix well. Serve in small cocktail glasses. Garnish, if desired.
Source: Porch Parties (2009) by Denise Gee