Growing honeydew melons (Cucumis melo) will show you how to raise these late melons which require a long growing season. How to grow melons vertically. When to harvest honeydew fruit.
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This honeydew vine is growing inside the conservatory at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania.
Because honeydews need a longer growing season than muskmelons, they are less popular with gardeners. The honey sweet lime-green flesh make them worth the wait if there are enough days between the last and first frost where you live to ripen them.
If you live in a short-summer area but want to give these delicious fruits a try, do this: When you buy the seed, choose the variety with the shortest number of days to harvest. This will give you the best chance of getting ripe melons before a frost kills the vines. 'A-One Hybrid' ripens in 80 days. 'Venus Hybrid' needs 88.
A ripe honeydew will have pale green to creamy yellow skin and will weigh between 3 and 6 pounds. A single vine will produce 4-6 melons.
When growing honeydew melons, plant them in full sun. A rich, friable soil is best. They dislike humidity, cool weather, and excessive rain.
To grow them on the ground takes a lot of space.
Mound the soil up a few inches into hills about 3 feet in diameter and about 4 feet apart. Plant the seeds directly into these hills. Plant them 1 inch deep, 5 seeds per hill. Make a trench around each hill to hold water.
This will save a lot of space but is more work to do.
Plant the seeds at the foot of a trellis that is situated in a sunny location. Plant 2 seeds for each foot of trellis width. Plant seeds on each side of the trellis. Mound the soil up and make an irrigation trench next to it.
Train the vines up and over the trellis, tying them if necessary. When the fruit forms, you'll have to sling it to prevent it falling prematurely from the vine.
Water and feed the vines via the trenches. Water only enough to prevent wilt. Feed every 6 weeks. To sweeten the fruit, withhold water for the final week before harvest.
The most important aspect of growing honeydew melons is knowing when to harvest them.
Fortunately, this is not difficult. The rind will develop a golden color and may become a little sticky. If there are tacky brown speckles on the rind, that's not a disease but a sign of sweetness.
Fragrance is another give-away. A ripe honey dew smells like a ripe honeydew. Lastly, ripe melons tend to slip from the vine when only slight pressure is placed on the stem.
Ripe, uncut honeydew melons can be kept in the refrigerator for 5 days. Their strong aroma may permeate other foods.
You should wash honeydews with soapy water before cutting them to rid them of bacteria on the rind that could be transferred by the knife to the melon's interior.