Planting cantaloupes in your garden brings the promise of sweet melon on the summer table. Cantaloupe is a hot-weather plant, and the quickest-growing varieties require at least 70 days of frost-free temperatures to reach maturity. Cantaloupes grow best when directly seeded into the garden. The roots tolerate very little disturbance; only an experienced gardener should attempt to transplant seedlings. Cantaloupes grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 10, which include most of the United States, except extreme northern and mountainous areas.
Prepare a well-drained, sunny garden bed in spring as soon as daytime temperatures reach 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Work compost into the soil to raise the planting bed 3 inches, which improves drainage and soil nutrition.
Place a soaker hose along your planting rows. Cover the planting bed with a layer of plastic garden sheeting to preserve soil temperature in case of cool nights. Cut holes in the sheeting where you will be sowing each seed.
Plant seeds in groups of three a half-inch deep into the soil. Space each group 18 inches apart in rows that are 5 feet apart.
Keep the soil moist at all times until the seeds germinate and sprouts appear, in 7 to 4 days. Once seeds sprout, water deeply twice a week.
Cultivate the soil with a hand-held cultivator tool between rows to keep weeds from seeding. Carefully weed near the cantaloupe seedlings after they appear.