Cantaloupe- the refreshing summer fruit
Did you know Cantaloupe is a rich source of essential nutrients and vitamins A and C? This water-rich fruit has numerous health benefits. It is highly recommended for people who have high blood pressure and heart ailments. People who want to lose weight can also consume it as it is 90% water.
Having developed an interest in terrace gardening over a couple of years, I decided to try growing them on my own. This set me on a quest to find the best pieces of information on How to Grow Cantaloupe In Container.
To be honest, my first couple of attempts did not yield the desired results. Despite the letdown, I am quite thankful for the experience as it showed me what I should be and should not be doing. My various experiments in the garden taught me that it is indeed possible to grow this beautiful fruit in a container provided it is given the right growing conditions.
In this tutorial, I will be sharing with you 6 critical points to take into consideration while growing cantaloupe in a container.
Materials required to grow Cantaloupe in a container
6 Points to Successfully Grow Cantaloupe in A Container
1. Germination of the seeds
As we plan to grow the cantaloupe in a container, it is easier to first grow the seedlings in a cup and transplant it later into the main container. Fill a plastic cup with potting soil and place the seeds in it. Remember to put only one seed per cup.
To aid the seedling to grow, sprinkle some fertilizer in the cup. After 14 days, you are most likely to see the seeds grow to about 4-5 inches. You will also see tiny furry textured heart-shaped leaves.
2. Transplanting the seedlings
You must not leave the seedlings in the cup once it has grown 4 inches tall. They must be transplanted into a bigger container so that its roots can grow. I used a pot that was 15” tall and 15” wide. You can use a container with similar dimensions or a bigger one. While filling the big container with soil, don't forget to sprinkle some organic fertilizer to the loose soil. About 2-3 tablespoons will be enough.
Always be gentle while transplanting the seedlings. Handle the roots with extra care so that no damage is caused to it. Carefully place the seedling in the container and cover the roots completely with soil. I also added mulch as it helps to retain moisture in the soil and also protects the roots from excessive heat due to continuous exposure to sunlight.
3. Keep an eye out for the flowers
All fruit-bearing vines have a unique characteristic. They grow female as well as male flowers. After getting pollinated by the male flower, the female flower develops into a fruit. You must watch out when the flowers appear as the female flower remain open only for a short duration in its lifespan. If pollination does not occur in this interval, it will not bear fruit.
The male flowers bloom first, and after a couple of days, the female flowers appear. You can identify the male and female by looking at their stalk. The former has a thinner stalk, and the latter has a rounded stalk.
4. Pollination by hand
In a farm or field, pollination occurs with the assistance of bees. But when you are trying to grow cantaloupes in a container, in your balcony or terrace, you will have to take things in your hands quite literally! Wondering how to do it? Let me explain.
The process is quite simple, but you have to pollinate the female flowers while it is still open. If it closes before that, you have missed your window of opportunity to grow sweet cantaloupes. So when you see the female flowers spread its petals, pluck 1-3 male flowers.
If you observe, you will see tiny yellow pollens at the center of the male flowers. You must transfer these to the female flower's bud. After a few hours have passed, you will see the female flower has closed its petals and covered the bud. Mission accomplished! It will start to form a cantaloupe fruit in a few days.
5. Taking care of the plant
It is vital to prune the plant when it is young so that it can remain healthy and bear sweeter fruits. Thin the seedlings by allowing only 3 of the strongest ones to continue to grow. The initial nutrients in the potting soil slowly lose their effectiveness after a few weeks. It is, therefore, essential to use water-soluble fertilizer that is diluted to half strength every two weeks.
It is essential to provide adequate water for the plant. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
Ensure that the leaves are luscious, and the water drains out freely. When growing cantaloupes in a container, it is essential to water the plant every day or even twice a day if you stay in a very warm place. Try not to wet the leaves as it may lead to fungal diseases. Use a soaker hose to water the plant. You must cut back on the watering once the fruit reaches the size of a tennis ball. Overwatering the plant at this stage will decrease the sweetness of the fruit.
Like all varieties of melons, cantaloupes also like to sprawl over. As you are growing one in a container, this must be stopped. Using trellis is one of the best solutions to the problem. You can buy one from a gardening store or recycle an old pantyhose or onion/potato sacks.
6. Harvest the fruit
It does not matter how much effort you have put in until now, as all of it can go to waste if you harvest the crops when it is still immature. It roughly takes 35-45 days to ripen after the female flower has been pollinated. Look out for signs of ripeness such as the change of color from green to orangish-yellow, fruity smell when you go near the stem, a hollow sound when you hit the fruit with your knuckles or the softening of the rind.
However, you can be sure that it is time to harvest when the fruit easily detaches itself from the stem with just a slight movement.
With that, its a wrap from me! I hope that you found the tutorial to be an interesting read. With the growing concern of food adulteration and excessive use of chemical fertilizers, one cannot be sure of the product one brings home.
This was one of the reasons for me to develop an interest in growing my vegetables and fruits. If you also have the same concerns, do not let limited space come in the way. Feel free to use this tutorial as a guide to growing your very own cantaloupes in a container. You can also check this video for more tips.
As a word of caution, I would like to say that insects and fungal diseases can ruin your cantaloupe if not caught early. So if you see molds or holes in the leaves, it is a sign that your plant is sick and requires more care.
Please share the tutorial with your friends and family, and don't forget to leave your thoughts in the comments box.
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