Ahhh, fresh cantaloupe, I can smell it now; or better yet - taste it! This will be the second year I have grown cantaloupe in my garden. I had great success growing them last year. They have always been one of may favorite fruits, but I had forgotten how much better home grown ones tasted. As a child, my Dad grew cantaloupe every year, and like everything else, once you get use to it you tend to take it for granted.
This year I'm growing a heirloom variety I ordered from Park's Seed Company called Organic Melon Hales Best. So far so good. I planted the seeds directly in my garden this spring once all danger of frost had passed, and as you can see the vines have really taken off. You can buy young cantaloupe plants at many garden centers, but I prefer to plant the seeds. They normally come up fast and don't go through all that transplant shock stuff.
Cantaloupes are fairly easy to grow. One of the downsides is that most varieties tend to spread, requiring a larger space to grow in the garden; however, there are now other varieties of cantaloupe that grow as a bush and do not spread. One such variety from Burpee is called Honey Bun - these varieties are better suited for smaller gardens.
Cantaloupe, as with most melons prefer a soil pH closer to neutral than many other plants. A handful of lime mixed into the ground where they are planted can help tremendously.
When ripe, the skin will be a pale orange color. They should feel a bit heavy for their size and will be very fragrant. Another thing that I have noticed when ripe is that when picking them they tend to come apart from the vine with very little resistance.
The picture above shows a couple of my developing cantaloupe still a couple of weeks from being ready. Can't wait!!