The Hales Best Jumbo Melon is a cantaloupe that became widely popular because it combined excellent flavor with earliness.
Learning Download: How to Grow Melons
From Seed to Harvest: A guide to growing melons.
Melons provide a sweet and colorful addition to summer meals, and they can be grown in the home garden. In addition to the typical cantaloupe and honeydew melons, gardeners can grow other varieties such as banana melons.
Melons are a warm-weather crop and do well in southern climates. Plant seeds in raised rows, as it encourages good drainage. In cooler climates, begin seeds indoors a month before transplanting. Transplant to the garden once all danger of frost has passed. If sowing directly outdoors, plant 1 inch deep and 18 inches apart in hills set 3 feet apart.
Cover with floating row covers to discourage insects. Once flowers begin to appear, remove the covers. Melons need a steady supply of water, and soil needs to be damped but not flooded, approximately 1 inch a week. Apply mulch, grass clippings or straw around the plants. Use methods to discourage fungus on leaves, as the leaves are the source of creating sugar for sweeter melons.
A week prior to harvesting, wean off watering as water dilutes the sugar in the plant. A ripe melon should be very easy to remove from the vine. For a cantaloupe, the netting pattern on the melon becomes more visible and a crack appears at the base of the stem when it was ripe. For a honeydew, the color becomes creamy.
What melons crave:
Prior to planting, mix aged manure and compost into the soil. Melons are heavy feeders, so fertilize at panting and throughout the growing season with a 5-5-5 or 10-10-10 granular fertilizer. Do not let the granules come in contact with the plant.
Where to buy melon seeds:
You can find many different kinds of melon seeds, including cantaloupe, honeydew and more at Urban Farmer.