The Q&A Archives: Successful Charentais Melons

Question: Can you offer advice for true success with the non-Americanized charentais melons, which seem nearly impossible to grow in this area?

Answer: Burpee does have 'Honey Girl Hybrid' which is the best of the acclaimed French Charentais melons. Check it out on page 62 of the new catalogue.

Generally, melons need USDA Hardiness Zone 4 and warmer. They need full sun, plenty of air circulation, water and fertilizer.

Start indoors, two seeds per pot about the time the last frost visits your area. Try warming your melon patch with black plastic spread over it to absorb the suns rays and give you a jump start on the season. They can be set out in the warmed patch about two weeks after the last frost. You can also use row covers over the newly planted melons to increase warmth and also protect from cucumber beetles. Strangely enough, it has been shown that if radish or basil is planted with the melons, it can help keep cucumber beetles at bay. (This is known as companion planting, and may prove to be quite helpful.)

When the plants begin to bloom, remove the covers to allow the pollinators to get to them. They need shallow hoeing to manage weeds until vines begin to form. They should have a snack of fish emulsion or some compost tea to keep them moving along. Do this once a week or so.

The season can be extended a bit longer by covering them again. Whether this will offer "true success", only you will know!

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