Talk to seasoned gardeners, and they still swear by 'Hale's Best Jumbo'. Its 3–5-pound fruits are exceptionally sweet and thick-walled. The seed cavity is small, so you can enjoy more delicious, mouth-watering fruit! Grows and stays sweet in most climates. More drought tolerant than other melons.
Botanical Name: Cucumis melo
Days to Maturity: 85 days
Native: Africa, Asia, Australia, West Pacific Islands
Hardiness: Frost-sensitive annual
Plant Dimensions: Sprawling vine; average 6', but can be more.
Variety Information: 6" diameter, 3–5 pound average, heavily-netted fruit with very sweet, thick, salmon-pink flesh. Small seed cavity means more fruit! Plants are more drought tolerant than other varieties; however, since melons have a high percentage of water, prolonged drought can reduce yields.
When to Sow Outside: RECOMMENDED. 1 to 2 weeks after your average last frost date, and when soil temperature is 70°–90°F.
When to Start Inside: Recommended for short-season areas. 2 to 4 weeks before transplanting within 2 weeks after your average last frost date. Sow into biodegradable pots that can be directly planted in the ground; roots are sensitive to disturbance.
Days to Emerge: 5–10 days
Seed Depth: ¼"
Seed Spacing: 2–3 seeds per mound
Row Spacing: 4'–6' apart
Thinning: Thin to 1 plant per mound
Harvesting: Harvesting at the right time is very important with melons. Commercial growers harvest before melons are ripe, forcing them to ripen off the vine, but the last few days of ripening on the vine put a lot of sugars into the melon. Consequently, melons taste significantly better when vine ripened. How do you know when melons are ripe? Use these indicators: 1) The color between the surface netting is brown, not green. 2) A ripe melon will have a pleasant, fruity aroma at the blossom end. 3) A crack will form on the stem right near the point of attachment. This is called the "slip stage" and in a few days, the melon will detach from the vine with little effort and pressure. If it is somewhat difficult to detach the fruit from the vine, the melon is not ready yet. Do not allow to over-ripen.
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