Homegrown melons picked when dead ripe are a treat not to be missed. The taste is nothing like the bland supermarket melons. Our Charentais is the classic European melon and has a great taste, texture and smell.
Culture. Melons like a loose, well-drained and fertile soil. If you have some, put a few shovelfulls of composted manure or good compost in the planting hole. You can either direct seed or use transplants if you are careful. If you live in zones 4 or 5, you really should use transplants. Do not plant until the soil has warmed up to 65°F and night time temperatures are at least in the mid-fifties, three weeks after the last frost date. They are real heat lovers and do very well when grown on black plastic mulch. Plant 5-6 seeds about an inch deep in an 8-inch circle. Thin to three plants. Space hills 3 feet apart and rows 5-6 feet apart. If using transplants, take care not to disturb the roots when transplanting. Keep well watered throughout the growing season.
Diseases and pests. Similar to cucumber.
Harvest, storage and use. When the little pointed leaf closest to the melon turns color, the fruit is ripe. You can use the sniff test, but it does not always work with Charentais melons. Harvest by cutting the stem with a knife (don't just pull it). Store inside out of the sun; if the fruit is becoming too ripe, store in the refrigerator.