IMPERIAL 45 CANTALOUPE
ABOUT THE PLANT
Description: Imperial 45 cantaloupe is a variety that produces melons weighing 10 pounds or more. They have green/tan, netted skin and deep orange flesh that is especially sweet, melony, and succulent. They are produced on vines growing up to 10 feet long and 1-1½ feet high and are especially well suited to hot, humid climates. Mature in 80-90 days.
Origin: Melons are thought to have originated in Africa or Asia. The Imperial 45 cantaloupe variety was developed in the Imperial Valley in California, hence its name.
Usage: Eat fresh slices in hand, use chunks in fruit salads, puree into smoothies, freeze in sorbets and granitas, or make popsicles. The seeds are also edible and are prepared by roasting then salted and eaten as a snack. The roasted seeds are also used in specialty breads and other baked goods.
Interesting facts: The orange pigment found in the melon’s flesh is beta-carotene, which provides antioxidant-like properties to protect cells from free radical damage. Melons also are high in fiber to help regulate the digestive tract.
HOW TO GROW
General requirements: These cantaloupes do best when planted in rich and sandy loam soil amended with aged manure or compost in an area that has at least 8 hours of full sun. They thrive in hot, humid climates and so must not be planted until the soil temperature has warmed to 70-80 ° and nighttime temperatures reach 55°F. Keep the soil consistently moist with an irrigation drip system, rather than overhead watering if possible. Add a thin layer of mulch as it will help suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. Fertilize with an all-purpose 5-5-5 fertilizer every 3-4 weeks.
In the garden: Directly sow 5-6 seeds in a 12-inch hill or next to a trellis. Thin seedlings to strongest 3 plants after 3-4 leaves appear. Water regularly. Add a thin layer of mulch as it will help suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. Fertilize with an all-purpose 5-5-5 fertilizer every 3-4 weeks. Harvest melons when the stem breaks easily from the vine.
In containers: Use a sturdy, 5-gallon container with good drainage and a high-quality potting mix. Dwarf varieties are best for container growing. Plant 2-3 seeds ½ inch deep per container. Thin the seedlings to one plant per container after the first two sets of true leaves appear. Add a thin layer of mulch as it will help suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. Keep the plants in full sun at least 8 hours per day, and well-watered. Fertilize with an all-purpose 5-5-5 fertilizer every 3-4 weeks.
Transplanting: Start the plants indoors 2-4 weeks before transplanting. Sow several seeds 1/2" deep in each peat pot and keep them at 75 degrees until they germinate. After 3-4 leaves appear, keep the strongest 3 plants in each pot by cutting away the others. Gradually harden-off the plants to outdoor temperatures by setting them outside during the day, then transplant them to hills 4-6' apart with 2-3 plants to a hill or 2-3 plants next to a trellis.
Fruits: Ready to harvest in about 80 days. Start looking for signs of ripeness. Look to see if the stem is cracked near where it attaches to the fruit. This is a sign of ripeness. Also, the fruit should easily separate from the vine. If the fruits are falling off by themselves, this is a sign of over-ripeness.
Seeds: Cut a ripe melon lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Rinse and clean the seeds for roasting and eating. Or if saving to plant next season, add water and let the seeds soak for 2-3 days, stirring occasionally. Good seeds will sink to the bottom. Save the goods seeds and wash them further in a strainer. Spread the good seeds out on a paper towel or a screen and allow them to dry for several days. Drying the seeds thoroughly is most important. If not completely dry the seeds will grow mold. Once the seeds are very dry, place them in a clean, dry, waterproof container and store in a cool dark place.
Common name: Imperial 45 cantaloupe
Latin name: Cucumis melo
Growth habit: Vine
Life cycle: Annual
USDA Zones: 3-9
Seeds per ounce: Approximately 500