Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cantaloupe / Rockmelon

Scientific Name : Cucumis melo reticulatus

Cantaloupe is the most popular variety of melon of the cucumber family. It is a round melon with firm, orange, moderately-sweet flesh and a thin reticulated light-brown rind. This fruit has a refreshingly rich flavor and aroma and minimal number of calories. It has a soft and juicy texture with a sweet, musky aroma that emanates through the melon when it is ripe. Cantaloupes feature a hollow cavity that contains their seeds encased in a web of netting.

In Australia and New Zealand, it is called rockmelon due to the rock-like appearance of the skin of the fruit. It is called a spanspek or sweet melon in South Africa, where it is harvested during the summer months October through February.

How to grow
Cantaloupe and honeydew are warm-season crops that grow best at average air temperatures between 65 and 75 °F. It is best to plant when the soil temperature is at least 60 to 65 °F. These melons are very tender and should be planted after the last chance of frost.

Melons seeds can be planted directly in the garden or transplants can be grown to get an early start. Cantaloupes and honeydews need a lot of space. Plant the melons in rows 6 to 8 feet apart. Transplants or seed should be planted in the rows 18 to 24 inches apart. If starting from seed, plant the seed about ½ to ¾-inch deep. Water regularly to keep the soil moist and apply 5-10-10 fertilizer for better plant growth.

About 30 to 35 days are required from fruit pollination to harvest for most cantaloupe varieties. Most honeydew varieties take a little longer. When the stem separates completely, called “full slip,” the cantaloupe fruit has achieved its maximum sugar development and if not consumed or cooled soon thereafter, its quality will deteriorate.

The cantaloupe is ready to harvest when the stem easily separates from the fruit. To avoid over-ripening, harvest cantaloupes before they naturally separate from the vine. The best way to check maturity of cantaloupes is to place your thumb beside the stem and gently apply pressure to the side. If the stem separates easily, the cantaloupe is ripe

Nutrition Info
Excellent source of Vitamin A & C. Good source of potassium, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, folate.

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