In the home garden, melons can be picked at full maturity, when they have the highest sugar content and best flavour. Their roots are delicate and require high nutrition and lots of water. For all that effort, you’ll be rewarded by the ripest, sweetest melons you’ve ever tasted.
Choose a warm, well-drained soil. Add dolomite lime and compost or well-rotted manure to the bed and ½-1 cup of balanced organic fertilizer beneath each transplant. Melons need warm growing conditions. Use black plastic mulch, cloches, or floating row covers. Success may improve in raised beds. Melons plants require 8-10 weeks of good, hot growing weather from the middle of June to the end of August. During that time, a melon vine must grow 5-9 leaves before starting to flower, then set 4 or more male flowers before making its first female flower, and then ripen its fruit before cool, damp weather sets in. Melons do not ripen off the vine. During the entire growing season, make sure to provide ample water.
Fruit will ripen in late August to early September. Ripe cantaloupe will easily detach from the vine when light finger pressure is applied to the stem. Watermelon is ripe when the tendril nearest to the fruit withers and dries up.