- A Description of Melons
History: Melons are native to Africa and Asia. The ancient Egyptians grew them and the Romans spread them throughout their empire. By the 1800's, English nobility were building dedicated melon houses to produce the much-desired fruit, as the English climate was not conducive to the heat-loving vines. In Canada, due to our short growing season, offerings were limited to the stalwart few varieties that could produce fruit reliably - one early 19th C. seed catalogue lists five varieties available. Cultivation: Melons are best started early indoors. Sow seed 1/4 - 1/2" deep in soil-less mix in flats 4 weeks before last frost. Plant out 3-4' apart in rich soil in sun only when the the temperatures and the soil have fully warmed up. Companions: marigolds, nasturtiums and oregano all deter insect pests.
- Amish Melon
(80 - 90 days) (Muskmelon) This Amish heirloom produces many mid-sized (4-7 lbs), oval-shaped melons with a thick rind and juicy, aromatic orange flesh. This is a tough melon that will produce well for you in a variety of growing conditions.
- Blenheim Orange Melon
Rare; Certified Organic
(90-100 days). This 1881 heirloom has noble connections, developed by the head gardener for the Duke of Marlborough and grown in the greenhouses of England's Blenheim Palace. In its first year of introduction, it won first prize as the best melon, from the Royal Horticultural Society. The 2-lb fruits have thin, netted skin and thick, fragrant orange flesh.
- Charantais Melon
(Cantaloupe) (75-90 days) This famous French heirloom melon has a reputation as one of the best-flavoured melons in the world! Growing to about the size of a grapefruit, it matures to a creamy yellow exterior with salmon-coloured flesh that has both a heavenly fragrance and taste.
- Collective Farm Woman Melon
Rare; Sustainably Grown
(80-85 days) An old Ukrainian variety, popular on the Crimean peninsula, this early melon ripens even in Moscow! Medium-sized fruits (7-10") have yellow/white flesh that is sweet, crunchy and fragrant. Excellent for northern gardens.
- Crane Melon
Rare; Sustainably Grown
(75-85 days) Profiled in Amy Goldman's "Melons for the Passionate Grower", this ancient variety has been grown and maintained by the same family for almost 90 years. Developed in 1920 by Oliver Crane from a number of favourite varieties of the time, its hallmarks are its taste and unusual pear shape. The Crane family still grows the melon on 100 acres in California and people come from miles around to buy the fruit. The fruit weighs 4-7 lbs. with a light orange flesh that is highly aromatic, sweet and juicy. Rarely available now, this melon is listed in Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste. Perfect for home gardeners and market growers, it is meant to be eaten when it's ripe and it does not ship well.
- Delice de la Table Melon
(85-90 days) This old, French heirloom melon was listed by Vilmourin in 1885. Deeply-ribbed, yellow-orange, 1-lb. fruits look somewhat like small pumpkins & have very sweet, orange flesh. Almost extinct until recently, they are starting to become available in the seed trade.
- Early Hanover Melon
Muskmelon; Endangered; Sustainably Grown
(70-85 days) Introduced by T.W. Woods and Sons in 1895, this is one of the earliest muskmelons available. The small, 2-3 lb. fruits are up to 6" in diameter, green-fleshed and full of flavour. The flesh can be eaten right down to the rind. This is a prodigious producer. Endangered.
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