The other day I went out to the garden and picked one of the best cantaloupes we've ever eaten. The taste of a store bought melon can never beat that of one that is homegrown!
Cantaloupes are actually muskmelons (Cucumis melo 'reticulatus') that are given the name cantaloupe to sound more palatable. Musk just refers to the smell but if you think of musk you might think more of a skunk, so most people just call them cantaloupes. True cantaloupes (Cucumis melo 'cantaloupensis') aren't actually commercially grown in the United States.
Our cantaloupes or muskmelons are going wild in the raised bed garden (Raised Bed Vegetable Garden Layout). They've completely overrun the bed they are in and are partially covering two other beds. I don't mind since we eat a good deal of fruit and as long as they keep producing we'll be eating. I was at the store today and saw the price of muskmelons was two for $5, so for every two melons the vine produces we save $5. It's almost like growing money!
Cantaloupes have male a female flowers like squash, cucumbers, pumpkins and many other vining fruits. You can tell when the cantaloupe is ripe when it pulls gently off the vine. It will have a generally tan appearance on the surface. A couple of the melons I picked this morning felt like they had just fallen off the vine.
Here's what I picked this morning with many more still to come. One melon from the other day plus the five from this morning makes six. One we've eaten, another we are working on, two were given to my parents (who incidentally gave us the plants), and the last two will eventually get eaten by a hungry almost three year old! Of course she will have help! Yum...
For some good information about muskmelons check out this page at the North Carolina State University Department of Horticulture.
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