Cantaloupe, also called sugar melon, are climbing vines that do well in hot, wet weather. They do not have to be staked, as they will move along the ground, but for best results, fruit should not touch the soil, as it encourages sogginess and rot, like with tomatoes.
Plant seeds 1.5 inches deep, 6 inches apart. Lightly water, and leave alone. Seedlings will come up in roughly two weeks. Putting up a 5 x 5 piece of fencing when you plant is recommended. These vines will grow fast and they should be tied up or wrapped around fencing to keep them off the ground.
As the vines grow, small, yellow flowers will appear. This is where the sugar melon will emerge. First, these flowers must be germinated by a bee. Do not worry. They will find it without any help and remember not to scare them away or you will not have enough germination to grow cantaloupes.
Once germinated, small green, oval shaped balls will appear under the yellow flower. This flower falls off and the ball grows rapidly into a melon. Weed regularly and like with tomatoes and onions, melons do best if sun and water are in equal parts. Should be watered lightly everyday or heavily, every other day.
Cantaloupe often fall off the vine before they are ripe, wind, storms, and animals usually are the cause, and they can be ripened by putting in a sunny windowsill for a day or two. Sugar melons are ready to be picked when they are the size of a large grapefruit and have a slightly yellowish or pinkish tone to the rind.
Fruit that falls too early and will not ripen makes good fertilizer. Dig a shallow trench near the other plants, line with the bad fruit, chop it up, and cover with dirt. It will make the next years crop better.
Melon plants will produce for the last month of the summer and into the first weeks of fall. Each plant usually gives 5-10 nice sized cantaloupe, depending on the germination and amount of water. Cantaloupe can be frozen by trimming away the rind and placing in airtight container. It can also be cut up, blanched, and frozen. Thawed fruit will be a bit mushy but it is well worth it to have garden fresh melons in the cold of winter.