Muskmelons are popular with gardeners who have plenty of space to accommodate their spreading vines.
Muskmelons do not tolerate cool temperatures or transplanting very well, so wait until the soil is warm before planting seeds. To warm the soil, use black plastic mulch, floating row covers, or plastic tunnels. Start transplants in individual containers like peat pots, and move them to the garden shortly after the seeds germinate and the soil is warm.
Muskmelons can be grown on a trellis, but the fruit must be supported with a sling. Control the vigorous vines by pinching out the growing terminals once the melon crop has set. Bees are necessary for pollination.
Muskmelons do not crosspollinate with cucumbers, squash, or watermelons, so off-flavor and poor quality are attributed to growing conditions (excess water while ripening, low soil fertility, and hot, cloudy weather).
Many newer hybrid varieties are resistant to major diseases.
- Ambrosia—hybrid; excellent flavor; 4-pound melons; light orange flesh; resistant to downy and powdery mildews.
- Dixie Jumbo—hybrid; replacement for Hales Best Jumbo; salmon flesh; 4-pound melons; resistant to downy and powdery mildews.
- Hales Best 36—round; well-netted; small seed cavity; salmon flesh; 87 days.
- Magnum 45—hybrid; early; 3-pound melons; deep orange flesh; resistant to powdery mildew.
- Mission—hybrid; western shipper type with no sutures; deep salmon flesh; 3- to 4-pound melons; resistant to powdery mildew.