Cantaloupes are a melon with a rind that has a tan-green color. The skin is usually coated in a spiderweb-like pattern, although some types may be striped as well, and the flesh inside of it is bright orange and sweet.
Their increasing demand is comparable to other ordinary melons such as honeydew melons and watermelons. And why wouldn’t it? First, the plant is filled with vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and vitamin C, and it’s a decent source of the mineral potassium. Another bonus is that the deep-orange pulp of the fruit is full of flavor but low in calories.
|Botanical Name||Cucumis Melo Var. Cantalupensis|
|Plant Type||An Annual|
|Size (Fully Grown)||Spread Of About 3 To 6 Feet (About 0,91 To 1,83 Meters)|
|Sun Exposure||Full Sun|
|Soil Type||Well-draining Soil That Is Rich In Organic Matter|
|Soil pH||From 6.0 To 6.8|
|U.S. Hardiness Zones||4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, And 10|
|Native Area||South Asia To Africa|
Different Cantaloupe Varieties
Many regions worldwide provide this plant with perfect conditions to grow, enabling its spread. In addition, several nations consume it as a fruit. So we are fortunate to have many cantaloupe varieties. Below are the most popular types, which include:
- El Gordo
- Top Mark
- Ball 2076
- Tasty Bites
- Hearts of Gold
- Sarah’s Choice
- Planters Jumbo
- Hannah’s Choice
- Olympic Express
Origins And History Of The Cantaloupe Plant
Some food historians argue that cantaloupe cultivation dates back to the Biblical period in Egypt and Greece. Then others claim that the plant was first grown in Persia, Armenia, and India. We know that the fruit was known as melon in Egyptian paintings that date back to the Biblical period. But, there was no differentiation between the netted and non-netted cantaloupe types in ancient times.
In ancient times, the Romans got their melons from Armenia, and their use was even mentioned in “Apicius,” a compilation of old Roman recipes. When we compare to the fruits we see today, the size of those fruits is smaller.
When Did The Cantaloupe Farming Started?
The actual farming of cantaloupes became popular in Italy during the late fourteenth century. It’s also believed that the fruit’s importance grew steadily in the southern part of Spain in the fifteenth century. Then came the Arabs, who formed their towns in Andalusia and made the trading of cantaloupes famous. Cantaloupes are so renowned in North America because Christopher Columbus brought them to the new world on his second expedition in 1494.
The name “cantaloupe” originates from a place in Italy called Cantalupo, near Tivoli. But how did the plant get there? The seeds of the melon were carried from Armenia around the sixteenth century and brought there. The plant is also popular in Europe, and for a good reason. France’s southern areas saw a boom in cantaloupe production in the seventeenth century because the favorable weather conditions offered enough heat for them to grow.
The French referred to these cantaloupes as “sucrins,” which meant sugar. Even today, Charentais, a famous cantaloupe variety in many European countries, is grown in France. Then there is The Netted Gem, a common cantaloupe variety introduced in the U.S. in 1881 by the W. Atlee Burpee Company. By 1895, in Colorado, the cultivation of cantaloupes started steadily. But after the Civil War, the plant became even more popular.
During the 1900s, when on tour to Armenia, British author Michael Arlen pointed out that the “casaba melon,” which took its name from the city of Kasaba in Turkey, made its way through the Armenians to California. These days, California’s San Joaquin Valley and Imperial Valley are significant farming areas for cantaloupes.
How To Recognize Cantaloupe?
The cantaloupe plant’s vines are trailing and somewhat furry, with simple oval leaves arranged alternately on the plant. The plant produces tiny yellow flowers that are 0,5 to 1,2 inches (1,2 to 3,0 cm). Lastly, there is the fruit, and the fruit’s shape is oval to round with orange flesh inside a white-green rind. But that was just a brief description. Let’s talk about cantaloupe in detail.
Young cantaloupe leaves are oval-shaped and have a small lobe and clear serrated edges on both sides. As they develop, they become more lobed and look like a heart. Based on the variety, the shape of the leaves can differ slightly.
As we already discussed in the brief intro, cantaloupes produce small, yellow flowers with a diameter of 0,5 – 1,2 inches (1,2 – 3,0 cm).
Cantaloupe is a melon with a tan-green rind, and that rind is usually coated in a spiderweb-like pattern, although some types may be striped. The flesh inside the skin is bright orange and tastes sweet.
Besides tasting good, the flesh is also filled with vitamin A (beta-carotene) and vitamin C, but it’s also a good potassium source. Another bonus is that the deep-orange pulp of the fruit is full of flavor but low in calories.
Best Growing Conditions For Cantaloupe
Most cantaloupe varieties grow well in all warm climates. But, the plant needs something else than a warm spot to prosper. So let’s find out what!
As we know, cantaloupe is a warm-season crop that grows best when the average temperature is between 65 to 75°F (about 18 to 24°C). But, the optimal sowing temperature needs to be somewhere between 60 to 65°F (about 15,5 to 18°C).
It’s also important to remember that the plant is susceptible to frost, so never plant it if there is even a slight possibility of it.
Soil And Sun
Cantaloupes like to grow in a sunny area with well-draining soil under them. But let’s not forget that it’s always a plus if the ground is also high in organic matter. To do this, you can improve the soil with manure or compost, for example. Also, remember that the soil pH should be between 6.0 and 6.8.
When it comes to sunlight, cantaloupes want a lot of it, and thus they need a full sun growth spot. The plant needs about 85 days to mature, so don’t hurry with the planting.
Sow the seeds only if the temperatures remain consistently higher than 50 to 60°F (approximately 10 to 15,5°C). Place two or three seeds in groups spaced 2 feet (about 61 cm) away from each other.
Water And Fertilizer
Because cantaloupe is a melon, it needs a lot of water, but it’s important to remember that the soil can’t be soggy. A great way to achieve this is to give about two inches (about 5 cm) of water per week. But reduce the watering once the fruit grows because keeping them a bit drier results in sweeter fruits.
The last thing to remember is fertilizing. To give your cantaloupes the nutrients they need, you can spread a 2 to 4-inch (about 5 to 10 cm) layer of compost or manure to the ground before planting.
If it seems like the plant needs extra nutrients during the growing season, you can apply a 10-10-10 or 16-16-8 fertilizer to your garden.
Is It Safe To Eat / Consume Cantaloupes?
Cantaloupe has many benefits and is a good source of vitamins like A and C, to name a few. But there can’t be a plant that only has advantages, can’t there? So let’s find out if people with some medical conditions should avoid consuming cantaloupes.
Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
As we know, cantaloupe is an excellent source of vitamins B and K and fiber, thiamine, magnesium, folate, niacin, and potassium. Also, since the plant is a melon, it’s full of water, which will keep you hydrated. But as with almost every plant, try to eat it in moderation even though it is beneficial.
Pediatricians usually tell parents to introduce solid foods to their babies once they are approximately six months old. But it’s recommended that melons, like cantaloupe, become a part of your kids’ diet once they reach the age of at least eight months. So all in all, cantaloupes are safe for children too!
People With Allergies
It’s entirely possible that if you have a pollen allergy, you can experience symptoms if you eat or, in some other form, consume plants like cantaloupe or watermelon. The symptoms you develop can appear, especially during the pollen seasons. Some of the symptoms you might experience include a weird tickling in your lips or even irritation in your mouth.
People With Diabetes
Even though cantaloupe is a plant that tastes sweet, it doesn’t contain sugar as much as watermelons, which means that it won’t raise your blood sugar levels that much either. But of course, don’t overeat the plant if you have diabetes because too much is always too much.
This delicious melon is entirely safe for your pets to consume as long as they eat it in balanced amounts. Besides, cantaloupe can even be a healthy substitute for conventional pet foods, especially if your pet has weight problems. But before giving them to your pet, try to get rid of the seeds because they have a choking hazard, especially for small animals.