It is one of the most appreciated fruits of the summer, but… did you know that there are certain varieties that are harvested in spring? Even if you have a greenhouse you can extend the season even more, and enjoy its flavor in winter too.

The truth is that I, who am a person who does not like to eat dessert too much, I enjoy the sweet taste of the fruit produced by the Cucumis melo, especially if it has been grown following the rules of organic farming, which are on which this article is based.

Origin and characteristics

Melon flowers are yellow

Image – Wikimedia / David J. Stang

The plant that produces melon is a monoecious herbaceous native to South Asia that develops creeping stems, from which palmate leaves sprout, simple, quite large, about ten centimeters wide by more or less or the same length, green in color.

Approximately two months after sowing its yellow flowers sprout, but in order for them to pollinate well and all of them it is highly recommended -although not mandatory- to have other specimens of Cucumis melo, which is the scientific name for melon. This is a fruit called peponid berry whose weight ranges between 400 grams and 20 kilos, or more.

The color of the epidermis and the pulp or “flesh” varies greatly depending on the variety. The first can be white, greenish or yellow, and the pulp, always aromatic, yellow, green, pink or intermediate tones. Inside we find seeds of about 3mm, spherical and oblong.

It is classified into two large families:

  • Summer melons, which are very aromatic and have a rough rind.
  • Winter melons, which are less aromatic and have a smooth or wrinkled rind.

Varieties

Image – Wikimedia / Piotr Kuczyński

There are several varieties, such as:

  • Yellow: it has a yellow-green skin (more yellow than green), and a very yellowish pulp. It is one of the smallest, weighing around 1kg, and its flavor is very, very sweet, something that lovers of this flavor can come to adore.
  • Cantalupo: it has orange pulp, weighs just over 1kg and its flavor is sweet, but not as sweet as yellow.
  • Gaul: it has white pulp, not very consistent, and weighs between 1 and 2kg.
  • Toad skin: the bark is thin, green. It does not have a very intense aroma, but its flavor is sweet, very pleasant. It weighs about 2kg.
  • Ratchet: it is made of garter skin, green, and of great flavor, sweet of course.

How is melon grown?

The melon is usually grown in the garden

Image – Wikimedia / Afro-Brazilian

Would you like to taste the authentic taste of melon? Then we recommend you grow it yourself in your garden or patio by following these tips:

Location

Where to grow it? Well, it depends on the season of the year in which we are. If it’s spring or summer, it will have to be outside, in full sun; instead, if it’s autumn or winter, its ideal place will be a greenhouse exposed to the star king. In the case of living in an area with frost, said greenhouse will have to be heated, otherwise it will not grow.

Earth

Again, it depends:

  • Soil (from orchard): It must be fertile, with good drainage. In poor lands it can produce enough leaves, but few fruits.
  • Substrate (for pots, old tires, etc.): It is highly advisable to use substrate for urban garden that they sell for example here!as it contains all the nutrients you need.

Irrigation

This species requires a lot of water to be able to grow and bear fruit. It must be borne in mind that melon is practically all water, and that liquid is obtained from the rain but also from irrigation. For this reason, and to take better advantage of this asset, which is scarce in many parts of the world, what is done is to install a drip irrigation system.

In case of growing it in a pot, another option that goes very well is to put a plate under it. Thus, as the excess water remains on the plate, its roots have the possibility of absorbing it.

Anyway, it is very important not to over water. It is not an aquatic plant, and waterlogging is very harmful to it. For this reason, during the summer we will have to water very often, even daily in different areas such as the Mediterranean, but in winter with two irrigations a week you can have more than enough.

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The guano powder is very good for the lantern tree

Guano powder.

Throughout the season, the melon must be fertilized so that it grows healthy and strong, and above all, why many fruits. With what fertilizers? With organics. Guano, compost, mulch, manure …

If you have your plant in the garden and you are one of those who used to throw away egg and banana peels, as well as the remains of vegetables in the garbage, stop doing it and throw them into the melon. Otherwise, use liquid fertilizers.

Multiplication

El Cucumis melo multiplies by seeds, normally in spring but it is possible in autumn if you have a greenhouse. The step by step to follow is as follows:

  1. First, a seedling tray (for sale here) needs to be filled with urban garden substrate.
  2. Then, it is watered consciously.
  3. Afterwards, a maximum of two seeds are sown in each socket, and they are covered with a thin layer of substrate.
  4. Next, it is watered again, this time with a sprayer, and the seedbed is placed inside a somewhat larger tray without holes.
  5. Finally, it is placed outside, in direct sun.

Keeping the substrate always moist, will germinate after about two weeks. When we see that roots grow out of the drainage holes, it will be time to transplant the seedlings to larger pots or to the garden.

Harvest

The melon fruit has a sweet taste

Image – Wikimedia / Forest & Kim Starr

Melon harvested approximately 4 or 5 months after sowing, depending on the variety. It must be done when we know for sure that it is ripe, that is, when when we touch it we notice that it is firm, and when it has acquired the colors of its variety.

Plagues and diseases

It is very resistant to pests; However, it can be attacked by the powdery mildew. This is a fungal disease – transmitted by fungi – that causes the appearance of a whitish mold or powder on young leaves and stems.

It is fought with fungicides that DO NOT contain sulfur, as it could be harmed. For example, copper can be used, which is natural and very effective.

Melon pruning

To prune it the following is done:

  1. 4-5 adult leaves are allowed to grow, and the main stem is blunted above the second or third.
  2. Stems will emerge from the axils of the remaining leaves that, having 5 or 6 leaves, will be cut above the third.
  3. It is advisable to prune tertiary stems when they have 5 leaves, cutting above the third or fourth.

From the rest of the stems, new ones will come out that will be fruitful. These can be pruned above the second leaf above the fruit, but it is optional.

What are the uses of melon?

Culinary

It is used as an edible plant. Its fruit It is widely used as a dessert, but soups, gazpachos, smoothies, and even ice creams are also made.

Its nutritional value per 100 grams is as follows:

  • Sugars: 7,89g
  • Fiber: 0,90g
  • Fat: 0,19g
  • Proteins: 0,84g
  • Vitamin B1: 0,041mg
  • Vitamin B2: 0,019mg
  • Vitamin B3: 0,734mg
  • Vitamin B5: 0,105mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0,072mg
  • Vitamin C: 36,7mg
  • Vitamin E: 0,05mg
  • Vitamin K: 0,002μg
  • Calcium: 9mg
  • Iron: 0,21mg
  • Phosphorus: 15mg
  • Potassium: 267mg
  • Sodium: 16mg

Medicinal

The melon is a fruit that has diuretic, respiratory, eupeptic, demulcent and nutritional properties. In addition, its roots and peel have an emetic effect (causing vomiting).

Melon

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