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How to Plant Melon Seeds
Melon seeds are a diverse group of seeds with a wide range of colors, shapes, flavors, and textures for you to plant. Melon seeds like cantaloupe grow an orange-fleshed melon that is sweet and mild. In contrast, melon seeds like Kajari grow a unique melon that changes from green to orange as it ripens!
When shopping for melon seeds, you can group melons into a few categories. Watermelons (Citrullus lanatus) are typically larger melons with smooth skin and high-water content. Although you mostly find red-fleshed watermelon in stores, there are also yellow, white, green, and orange-fleshed watermelon varieties! Cantaloupes (Cucumis melo) are typically netted or not smooth-skinned and have firmer flesh. Honeydew (Cucumis melo inodorus) is in a plant genus of its own even though it is similar to cantaloupe!
There are many more melon varieties out there that we encourage you to explore, from muskmelon to Galia melon! No matter what melon seed you decide to plant in your garden, they all have the same planting requirements.
Direct Sowing Recommendations
Melon seeds are strong growing, quick to germinate in warm soil, and can easily be directly sown in the garden. Although it is entirely possible (and we have) to transplant melon plants into the garden, why not take the easy way and sow them into your garden directly? You can save yourself some time and extra work by planting melon seeds directly into the soil where they will go.
Considerations for Direct Sowing Melon Seeds
When you are directly sowing melon or any seeds, you need to work the soil properly. Soil should be weed-free, well-watered, and have a good light texture. You can mix in compost and manure to help improve the texture of the soil.
When we are prepping beds for direct sowing melon seeds, our steps for success are as follows:
- Pull current crops
- Loosen the soil with a pitchfork or similar tool.
- Add organic fertilizer if needed.
- Mix in compost and composted horse manure if needed.
- Rake the seedbed well with a soft rake to ensure that no debris will inhibit melon seed germination.
- Water well! Make sure there is ample moisture in the beds.
- Direct sow the seeds about ½-1″ deep by laying seeds in a furrow and covering them with well-sifted soil.
- Water again and keep the soil moist until germination!
How to Care for Germinated Melon Seeds
Once your melon seeds have germinated, which should take place 7-10 days after planting, you will want to ensure your melon beds remain weed-free and well-watered. Do not overhead water your melons as that can encourage foliar disease. It is a better idea to water at the soil level. Depending on the melon, it can take anywhere from 60-130+ days for the melon plants to produce a ripe melon. In that time, be sure to keep an eye on the developing melons. We like to place a small piece of cardboard underneath our developing melons to discourage rodents from nibbling on them!
Don’t know when to harvest your melons? Make sure you read the product information of each melon to know when it is ripe. The BEST way is to mark your calendar for the days to maturity and pick it only if it seems ripe after that date.