Cantaloupes are annual-growing, fruit-producing vines that just happen to be the most popular melon in the United States, according to the World's Healthiest Foods. Although technically a musk-melon, the cantaloupes that are grown in the United States are a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Cantaloupes are both easy and fun to grow in the home garden. For best growth, plan on planting cantaloupes outdoors when the soil temperature remains above 65 degrees Fahrenheit and any danger of spring frost has passed.
Preparing the Planting Area
Choose a planting area for the cantaloupes that will provide them with full sun. Cantaloupes will thrive when provided maximum sunshine.
Turn over the soil in the planting area using a shovel or garden fork. Sift through the soil using a metal rake to remove any sticks, weeds, rocks, clods or roots from the area. Plan on preparing the soil in the planting area about two weeks prior to planting.
Lay out over the planting area a 4-inch layer of organic matter. You can use aged manure, leaf mold, dehydrated compost or other similar material.
Measure out 2 to 3 cups of 16-16-8 or 10-10-10 fertilizer for every 50 square feet of planting area. Broadcast the fertilizer out over the soil in the planting area using your hands or a hand-crank fertilizer spreader. You can purchase fertilizer spreaders at your local garden center or plant nursery.
Incorporate the organic matter and fertilizer into the soil thoroughly using the garden fork, a shovel or a rototiller.
Planting Cantaloupe Seeds
Create 4 to 6-inch high mounds of soil in the planting area that are approximately 12 to 14 inches in diameter. The mounds should be 4 feet apart.
Poke three or four 1-inch deep holes in the mounds that are approximately 4 inches apart. You can use a chopstick or pencil to create the holes.
Drop one or two cantaloupe seeds per hole in each of the mounds. Cover up each of the seeds with approximately 1 inch of soil.
Water the mounds of soil thoroughly using a slow, steady stream of water so as not to displace the cantaloupe seeds. Plan on keeping the mounds moist--provide water as needed, but never allow the soil to become dripping wet. Germination of cantaloupe seeds will begin in about seven to 10 days.
Thin out the seedlings when they have a set of leaves. To do this, use a pair of scissors, and cut off at the soil line the least hardy cantaloupe seedlings, leaving the two hardiest seedlings per mound.
Spread out a 2-inch layer of grass clippings, straw or other like material for mulch around the cantaloupe seedlings once the soil temperature reaches 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Mulch helps to keep precious moisture in and pesky weeds down.
Water the cantaloupe plants when the soil feels dry to the touch a depth of 2 to 3 inches. Provide approximately 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Let the water run slowly so it will sink into the soil to reach the roots.
About this Author
Katelyn Lynn is a certified holistic health practitioner who specializes in orthomolecular medicine and preventative modalities. She also has extensive experience in botany and horticulture. Lynn has been writing articles for various websites relating to health and wellness since 2007. She has been published on gardenguides.com. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in alternative medicine from Everglades University.