UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA

Melons

Garden Help > Vegetables

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How to grow: Melons

Pest management: Cantaloupe cultural tips, pests, and diseases

The Basics

When to plant: May–June. For best results, wait until soil is well warmed up in the spring. Start melon seeds indoors in April, 4-5 weeks before transplanting. 

Harvest window:  July-October, depending on variety

Care overview:

  • Melons require a soil temperature of about 70 degrees to germinate, so a plant heat mat is often necessary if starting seeds in pots.
  • Melons need full sun and high temperatures.
  • Black plastic or black landscaping fabric can be used to keep the soil warm and weed free. 
  • Cover the plants with floating row covers to keep them warm and protected from pests. Remove the row covers when the plants start to blossom.
  • Encourage bees for best pollination or hand pollinate.
  • Provide an A-frame trellis or other type of structure to save garden space. To support hanging fruits, make a 'melon sling' made from soft material.
  • Protect ripening melons that are on the ground by placing them on a board, tile, or other material.

Harvesting and storage:

  • When mature, cantaloupes and muskmelons will smell fragrant and will detach easily ('slip') from the vine. Honeydew melons don't slip, but the color of their skin will change and will become waxy. 
  • Melons will soften after picking but will not increase in sweetness.
  • Melons are best stored at 36-41°F and can last 12-15 days depending on the variety. 

More links: 

Some Recommended Varieties for Santa Clara County*

Variety Name Description
Cantaloupe 'Earliqueen F1' 74 days to harvest. F1 indicates first generation hybrid. More mildew resistance than Earliqueen.
Cantaloupe Ambrosia Hybrid Sweet and juicy. Vines yield bumper crops and are mildew-resistant.
Muskmelon, Galia A delicious green-fleshed cantaloupe, very sweet and aromatic. There are many named varieties, such as Diplomat.

* Many other varieties may also do well here in Santa Clara County. This list is based on UC Master Gardener trials, taste tests, and feedback from local growers.

Webmaster Email: webmaster-mgsantaclara@ucanr.edu