Melons are vining, warm season plants with fleshy fruits in the Cucurbitaceae family. There are two genera: Citrulius (watermelons) and Cucumis (all other melons.) They bear large round fruit with a pulpy flesh and many seeds. Cantaloupe, honeydew, muskmelon and watermelon are the best-known examples of this family. Melons originated from southwest Asia and have been cultivated for more than 4,000 years.
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Select a site with full sun and rich, fertile soil in the 6.0 to 6.5 pH range. Melons also require a lot of space and three to four months of weather in the 70- to 80-degree range before the melons can be harvested.
Use a compost heap, if possible. This will provide additional heat and nutrients. Wait until the last frost has passed and the ground has dried before planting.
Plant melon seeds one inch deep in a 2- to 3-foot mound. There should be two plants per mound and the mounds should be spaced 4 to 6 feet apart. The seedlings should sprout within 10 days. Thin out smaller, weaker vines leaving the two best vines on each plant.
Keep melons away from other family members such as cucumbers, pumpkins and squash to keep undesired pollinations from occurring.
Provide 1 to 2 inches of water per week, especially while the fruit is maturing. Stop watering a week before harvesting the melons but don't allow the vine to wilt completely.
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