Cantaloupe-Sarah's Choice

  • Sun: Full sun
  • Harvest Size: 3 pounds
  • Days to Harvest: 72 to 76 days to flower
  • Plant Size: 6 to 12 inches tall, 4 to 6 feet wide

This cantaloupe serves up a thick orange flesh that’s richly fragrant and juicy. Vines are productive, yielding plenty of fruits for eating and sharing.

Cantaloupes are also called muskmelons. Set out plants 2 weeks after the last frost date in spring for summer harvest. In the far South, another crop can be planted midsummer for a fall harvest.

Disease Resistance: PM F3. Plant Spacing: 36-42 inches apart; or plant 12 inches apart and grow on a trellis; or place 1 plant per large container, such as a half-whiskey barrel. Plants per person: 2 to 4.

Secrets to Success »

Cantaloupe is a thirsty and hungry plant. Prepare soil with several inches of compost or manure; some gardeners even grow melons atop their compost pile! Feed at planting and throughout the growing season with Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food. Provide a steady supply of water, keeping soil constantly moist but not soggy. Don’t water from overhead, which promotes foliar diseases; soaker hoses are best.

These fruits demand 2 to 3 months of heat, making them challenging in northern regions but not impossible; use black plastic or landscape fabric to warm the soil, then plant through holes cut in the cover.

Provide plenty of room to roam. Plant in wide rows, or save space and grow on a large trellis, up to 8 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Wire fencing works well. If grown on the ground, keep fruit off the bare soil using mulch, black plastic, or upside-down pots; on a trellis, support fruit using slings made from netting or nylon hose.

Harvest and Use »

Melons will ripen all in a few weeks. When the cantaloupe rind changes from gray-green to yellow-buff and the netting pattern becomes more pronounced, the cantaloupe is ripe. Also look for a crack to appear at the base of the stem; a ripe melon should slip right off the vine.

Sarah’s Choice is a nice medium size melon that’s perfect for enriching a meal with antioxidants and lots of vitamins C and A. Store melons in the fridge for up to a week. Slice for a healthy breakfast and for fruit salads; dice and freeze for smoothies, cold soup, or sorbet. An Italian delicacy is cantaloupe slices wrapped with prosciutto.

Try these garden companions »

  • Mint, lemon balm, basil (especially Cinnamon basil).
  • Honeydew and watermelon.
  • Strawberries.
  • Bee balm, lavender, marigolds, zinnia, lemon balm, oregano, basil to attract bees for pollination.

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