Cantaloupe is a fruit belonging to the melon family. It is quite popular because of its distinct flavor, taste and the many health benefits it has to offer. Cantaloupes are relatively easy to cultivate, provided you avoid some of the below mistakes, which can result in a negligible crop.
1. Sowing the Seeds in Cool Weather
Like most members of the melon family, cantaloupes will only thrive in warm conditions. Before sowing the seeds, do a thorough check of the soil temperature and the weather forecast. Waiting for a couple of weeks after the last frost is an effective way of ensuring that the plants get off to a good start.
2. Planting in Alkaline Soil
Cantaloupes require acidic soil, with a pH between 5.0 and 6.5. If you have alkaline soil, the plants will not grow well. Amend alkaline soil by adding sulfur pellets at the recommended quantities.
3. Planting in Clay Soil
Cantaloupes grow well in soil that drains excess water while at the same time retaining the required amount for the plant’s growth. If you have clay soil, you will have to amend it to increase porosity and texture. Treating the soil with plenty of organic matter such as compost or manure, in addition to adding sand, is useful in improving soil condition and increasing porosity.
4. Planting in Shaded Areas
Like most melons, cantaloupes require full sun in addition to warm temperatures. Lack of sunlight will slow down growth to a great extent, and result in an inferior crop. In addition to choosing a sunny location, you can increase soil temperature by mulching the soil with black plastic. This will result in faster, healthier growth of the plant and also reduce chances of soil diseases.
5. Not Providing Adequate Space
Because cantaloupes are such large fruit, you must be careful to plant them at a considerable distance from each other. Crowded planting will affect fruit production to a great extent, and also cause diseases and fungi due to lack of air circulation. A minimum distance of 2 to 3 feet is required for most cantaloupe varieties.
6. Not Providing Adequate Nutrition
Cantaloupes, like other melons, are heavy feeders. It is important to incorporate plenty of nutrients in the soil before sowing the seeds. Mature compost, all purpose fertilizer and manure are all good choices for enhancing nutrition. You can also mix some compost with the soil in the planting spot. Regular fertilization is important to the growth of healthy fruit.
7. Not Watering Properly
A proper balance must be established when it comes to watering cantaloupes. Excessive watering can cause problems such as root rot and suffocation of the plant. Insufficient watering will cause wilting and problems in the production of fruit. Watch for signs such as the soil beginning to dry, before you water cantaloupes.
8. Using the Same Planting Spot
Cantaloupes are more prone to soil borne diseases if you use the same planting spot for members of the melon family every year. In addition, make sure the area is free of weeds that will rob the plant of nutrition, causing stunted growth and inferior fruit.