CANARY YELLOW MELON
ABOUT THE PLANT
Description: The Canary yellow melon is a large, bright-yellow oval-shaped melon with an inner flesh that can be pale greenish white to creamy white. The soft, juicy flesh has a sweet flavor that is tangier than a honeydew melon and tastes more like a cross between a cantaloupe and Asian pear. The melons grow on vines that can reach a length of 10 feet long, with a plant height of about 2 feet tall. The fruits can weigh from 4 to 5 pounds.
Origin: The exact origin is unknown; some say Africa, and others say Asia.
Usage: These delicious fruits are eaten as fresh slices, in fruit salads, in smoothies, or made into sorbets.
Interesting facts: The hard rind of Canary melons allows them to have a long post-harvest shelf-life, so they can be stored for longer periods than other melons, making them easier to ship around the world.
HOW TO GROW
General requirements: Melons require plenty of heat, persistent moisture, and a long, sunny growing season of 80-90 days. They prefer lighter clay-loam soils that are rich in organic matter, well-drained, deep, and slightly acidic with a pH of 6.0-6.8. Melons are susceptible to fungal disease, so it is better to use drip irrigation, rather than overhead watering. If your soil is relatively fertile to begin with, a monthly addition of a light 5-5-5 all-purpose fertilizer will be sufficient.
In the garden: Sow the seeds directly into the garden when all danger of frost has passed for your area. Sow 3-5 seeds 1/2 inch deep in hills that are 8 inches high, 16 inches wide and 3 feet apart in rows 6 feet apart. Water thoroughly. Germination takes 7-14 days. Thin the seedlings to two plants per hill when the first two sets of true leaves appear. Add a thin layer of mulch as it will help suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. Water weekly 1-2 inches depending upon weather conditions. Water in the morning so the leaves have a chance to dry and don’t promote fungal diseases. After fruit set, increase watering to 2 inches per week, then reduce to 1 inch when the melons begin to mature, usually three weeks prior to harvesting.
In containers: Use sturdy, well-draining containers that are at least 18 to 24 inches across and 20 to 24 inches deep. A dwarf variety is best for container growing. Plant 2-3 seeds 1/2 inch deep in rich, light soil. Thin to 1 plant per container after the first two sets of true leaves appear. 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: Sow seeds indoors ½ inch deep in peat pots 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Place the pots in a warm sunny window that gets at least 8 hours of sun per day, or use grow lights. Keep them well-watered. They will need to be hardened off for a week prior to transplanting into the garden when the seedlings have their first two sets of true leaves. Transplant in early spring after the last frost date. Plant two seedlings per hill and water- in well.
Fruits: The melons will be ready for harvesting in roughly 75 to 80 days. One week prior to harvesting, cut down the amount of water that you provide to the vines. Water just enough to keep the vines alive as this allows the plants to focus their energy on creating sweeter fruits rather than making more leaves.
Seeds: Remove fully mature melons from the vine and move them to a cool place where they can ripen for an additional 2-3 weeks. Cut the fruit open and scrape the seeds into a bowl. 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: Canary yellow melon, Juan Canary, Amarillo melon
Latin name: Cucumis melo
Growth habit: Vining up to 10 feet, height 2 feet
Life cycle: Annual
USDA Zones: 3-9
Seeds per ounce: Approximately 550