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In this series I’m compiling the quick and dirty info on growing specific vegetables. Just the basics. No fluff, no frills. When you’re sitting down in the late Winter, surrounded by seed catalogs, and your garden plan in front of you, you want a quick reference. How far apart can you plant? What pH do they need? How much water? What vegetables can you plant next to others? Which should you avoid?
For a complete list of companion plants, check out my post Top 60 Companion Plants and How to Use Them.
Melons originated in Africa and Southwest Asia, and so prefer long, hot days. Recent discoveries point to them being domesticated around 1300 BC. They were some of the first crops to be developed in the new and old world. Early European settlers reported growing melons in the new world as early as the 1600’s. And a number of Native American tribes in New Mexico have developed their own cultivars, descended from melons originally introduced by the Spanish.
While there are dozens of different types of melons, the care for them is all very similar.
This quick and dirty 30-second guide to Melons should help you answer all those questions quickly, without having to sort through article after article. I’ve always wanted a quick cheat sheet like this, so hopefully you’ll find it useful too!
Nutritional Benefits of Melons
The nutritional benefits of melons vary by varietal. Here are the highlights of my favorite melons:
Cantaloupe is an important source of Vitamin C (1 cup contains 120% recommended daily value) and Vitamin A (108%)!! And let’s be honest, who can stop at one cup??
One cup of honeydew contains only 2% DRV of Vitamin A, but 53% of your Vitamin C and 12% of your Potassium.
One cup of watermelon contains 18% of your daily Vitamin A, and 21% of your Vitamin C. But that makes sense – watermelon contains more water than other melons.
In addition to basic vitamins, however, melons also have a substaintial amount of polyphenols. Many polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals, reduce inflammation and slow the growth of tumors.
In addition to the flesh, eating melon seeds provides an additional source of omega-3 fatty acids.
How to Grow Melons
Melons are a versatile family, with very different flavors. Watermelons, honeydew melons, and cantaloupes are all great melons to learn to grow. They need a lot of space, and a lot of water, so to avoid crowding out or drowning other plants, you should plant melons in their own private neighborhood.
If you’re growing Melons this year, here’s what you need to know:
1-2 inches per week
Direct sow 3-4 weeks after last frost (or after the soil temperature remains over 60 degrees F).
Corn, Radishes, Beans
Avoid Planting With
Cucumber, Zucchini, Squash, Potatoes
2-3 seeds per mound with mounds spaced 24 inches apart in rows 4-6 feet apart.
Keep an eye out for pests and and disease. Slide a piece of cardboard under the fruit where it touches the ground to prevent rot.
Spray with a 50/50 mixture milk and water at the first sign of powdery mildew.
Saving the Seeds
Simply scoop out the seeds from a ripe melon and allow to dry for about three weeks. Store in a cool, dark place.
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