There are many varieties of melon out there. Among the most popular types are cantaloupes, watermelons, and honeydew.
Melons belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, thereby making them relatives of cucumbers and squashes. As summer approaches, we are gifted with some of the best and juiciest kinds – not the off-season hard-skinned and dry ones.
Before taking a trip down to the farmer’s market, get to know the different melon types. Listed below are some of the most common and best-tasting varieties.
1. Amarillo Oro
Photo via es.wikipedia.org | Kelsang Gabinet de premsa de l’Ajuntament d’Ontinyent
Amarillo has a golden-yellow rind, with green to salmon-colored flesh. It can grow up to 15 pounds and is deliciously sweet.
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The banana melon looks like a really big banana; however, some say it resembles a squash.
The fruit is sweet, has a salmon-colored flesh with a yellow rind, and grows up to 8 pounds. It takes approximately 90 days to mature.
Picture via naturalfoodseries.com
Honeydew, also known as the honey melon, is typically light green or brown with a white-yellow, green, or orange inside tone.
It grows best in hot climates and takes 65 to 100 days to mature, depending on how it is grown.
4. Hales Best Jumbo
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This cantaloupe variety of melons is oval-shaped and has beautiful deep green skin with golden netting. Moreover, it has an excellent flavor and sweet-tasting.
It prefers full sun and takes about 85 days to mature.
5. Hearts of Gold
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This fruit is known for its deep orange golden flesh that is also fragrant and juicy.
The Hearts of Gold canteloupe belongs to the muskmelon varieties. It dates back to the 1890s; however, it is considered one of the first true modern varieties.
6. Planters Jumbo
Photo via hometownseeds.com
Planters Jumbo belongs to the cantaloupe family. It has a smooth rind with heavy nettings and the flesh of the fruit is deep orange.
Also, it is very sweet, grows well in wet or dry conditions, and matures in about 85 days.
7. All Sweet
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All Sweet is a classic picnic-type watermelon. It appears exactly the way we imagine it — green on the outside and reddish-pink within.
The fruit is usually big (averaging 30 pounds) and sweet.
8. Cal Sweet
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Cal Sweet watermelons have bushy vines that grow 14 to 18 inches long, which provides foliage cover to protect the plants.
It is very sweet and takes about 85 days to mature.
9. Carolina Cross
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The Carolina Cross is the largest watermelon variety. It is an oblong fruit that is capable of reaching over 200 lbs.
Carolina grows to its full potential during the hot summer months.
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Congo is a unique watermelon that is extra sweet and has deep red firm flesh.
In 1950, it won the All-America Selections competition. Therefore, it is a shame it is hard to find them nowadays.
11. Crimson Sweet
Picture via premierseedsdirect.com
Crimson Sweet is known for its delicious flavor, as well as being one of the sugariest among the large watermelon types.
Charles V. Hall of Kansas State University developed it. It was released in 1963, and since then, has become a farmer’s favorite.
You can find organic crimson sweet seeds online.
12. Florida Giant
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As per the name, one would think that it grows in Florida; however, this melon variety thrives well outside the sunshine state.
The Florida giant belongs to the watermelon category, produces large fruits (50+ pounds), and matures in about 90 days.
13. Georgia Rattlesnake
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The Georgia Rattlesnake is a classic watermelon that has a bright pink flesh. Moreover, the fruit is sweet, has a tough rind, and averages 30+ pounds.
This melon fruit loves the summer heat and matures in about 90 days.
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Jubilee is crisp and often requires about 90 days to mature. This watermelon is oblong, produces fruits up to 40 pounds, and has alternate green and pale green stripes.
15. Moon & Stars
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Moon and stars are usually very heavy, weighing up to 50 pounds.
The flesh of this exotic melon is very juicy and sweet and can be between red or pink-red or even yellow. Also, its unique skin is dotted with large and small yellow spots.
16. Sugar Baby
Image via bonnieplants.com
Sugar baby is called the ‘picnic’ or ‘icebox’ watermelon. However, this kind of melon is perfect for small families because it is pretty small.
It averages about 9 pounds and grows best in warm, dry temperatures. Moreover, it is really sweet and matures in about 75 days.
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Among the sweet melons, tendersweet watermelon is known for its crisp orange flesh. It has a tough rind which is suitable for short-term storage. Above all, it has a sweet honey-like flavor and is very nutritious.
Tendersweet averages 35 pounds and takes about 90 days to mature.
18. Tom Watson
Image via superseeds.com
Tom Watson produces large fruits (up to 40 pounds) and matures in approximately 90 days.
The rind is dark-green with stripes that are thin and hard. Besides, the flesh is red and sweet.
Where to Buy the Seeds?
How to Grow Melon
Tons of melons are grown each year, with China being the biggest producer in the world.
Melon fruits are warm-weather crops that can be planted using 2 methods. You can either sow the seeds directly in the ground or transplant the seedlings. Before doing this, ensure that all frost has melted and the soil’s temperature is around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Germination usually takes 3-10 days, depending on the type.
To further protect the growth of the plant, one can start growing them indoors for 4 to 3 weeks before moving them into the garden.
Care and Maintenance
When growing melons, we need to be mindful of certain environmental issues as well as common farming mistakes. However, these are not difficult to avoid and with the right information and guidance, you can have a good harvest.
Try mulching the ground with newspaper or grass clippings. These will hinder sunlight, warm the soil, and prevent weed growth. Moreover, the fruits will be clean by the time you need to pick them.
During the growing season, melon plants need up to 2 inches of water per week. Remember to not waterlog the soil. The goal is to simply keep it moist. Besides, when in dry weather they are sugary!
Mulching is also good to maintain moisture levels. However, be careful there as mulches can become homes for beetles and squash bugs to lay eggs.
The female flowers are the fruit-bearing parts and will give the fruit. When the fruit starts to ripen, lift it gently from the ground and place a cardboard box between the melon and the soil to prevent rotting.
Pest and Disease Problems
Some melons are prone to mold infection because they have to be grown in cool or damp climates.
As for the main harmful insects that affect cucurbits, these include:
- Spider Mites
- Beet Armyworms
- Squash Bugs
- Mole Crickets
- Seedcorn Maggots
- White Grubs
To protect further plants from insects, use row-covers but take them off during the pollinating season.
Depending on the type, they take 65-100 days to mature. The harvesting time is important because they don’t sweeten after they are picked.
To find out if your melon is ripe:
- Tap it across the body. If you hear a hollow sound, the fruit is ripe.
- Secondly, look at the color on the top. If you see little contrast between the stripes, that is generally a good sign of ripe fruit.
- Also, check the bottom of the fruit. If it is ripe, the color will appear yellowish-creamy.
- A ripe melon also gives in easily when it’s pressed.
- Check the tendril’s color. If it’s green, the fruit isn’t ripe yet. If it appears to be drying up and turns brown or gray, the fruit has almost ripened.
Though melons taste amazing by themselves, serving them with other foods can increase their possibility of triggering your taste buds.
However, while you would like to preserve the fruit, do not refrigerate as this could diminish the taste and make it soggy.
While there are so many and we love them all, they all come with unique features. For example, the smell can tell you about the ripeness of the fruit. A truly ripened melon has a sweet fragrance.