How to grow rockmelons

| April 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

Growing rockmelons in Perth

Growing rockmelons in Perth

Rockmelons are a quintessential summer fruit in Australia. They’re oh-so-sweet, juicy and delicious when eaten straight from the fridge or partnered with desserts and savoury dishes alike. Prosciutto wrapped rockmelon is a fantastic canapé during those warm Perth summer evenings. Growing rockmelons in Perth is easy and whats more homegrown rockmelon tastes so much better than anything you can buy at the store making them a must for the home garden.

Rockmelons or cantaloupe as they are known in the northern hemisphere, grow on vines which spread along the ground. They form an oval ball with unusual looking netting around the outside. The inside orange flesh is sweet and juicy.

If you have ever wondered how to grow rockmelons in Perth, Western Australia – this is growing guide for you!

When to plant rockmelon in Perth:
In Perth rockmelon seeds should be planted in September and October. Rockmelon seedlings should be planted in the garden during November and December.

Varieties of rockmelon in Western Australia:
French Charentais (heirloom) – orange flesh and good for cooler climates.
Mini Melon Minnesota – this dwarf melon is 10cm in size but it makes up for it with flavour. It grows on a 1m vine and is wilt resistant.
Nutmeg – sweet, greenish flesh suitable for cooler climates.
Ha’Ogen – sweet, fragrant and compact in growth.

How to grow rockmelon at home:
Rockmelon vines need a fair bit of space with each one covering an area that is about 1.2m x 1.2m. One alternative however is growing rockmelon on a trellis. If you have a small garden then growing rockmelon vertically might be the best option for you as this will allow extra space for the rockmelon leaves. Rockmelon seeds are best planted at 1.2m apart and mounded up.

  1. Choose a spot in your garden that sits in full sun. Loosen the soil with a garden fork and enrich the soil with soil improver and plant fertiliser.
  2. Sow rockmelon seeds direct by pressing 3-4 rockmelon seeds into mounds of moist soil 1m apart or fill starter trays with seed raising mix. Sow seeds, cover, firm down and water well. Keep the soil moist so the seeds don’t dry out. Transplant after 3-4 weeks.
  3. Once rockmelon seedlings appear, thin to 2-3 strong plants and feed weekly with liquid plant food.
  4. Water well while the rockmelon fruit develops, then reduce watering as the fruit begins to ripen to sweeten before picking.
  5. Harvest rockmelon when the stem begins to break away from fruit.

How to pollinate rockmelon?
Keep an eye out for the 2 different male and female flowers. It is often easier to pollinate rockmelon by hand If there are no bees around you might need to pluck the male flower off and tickle the female flowers to ensure cross-pollination. Alternatively using a paint brush is a good option.

When to harvest rockmelon:
Rockmelons will be ready for harvest in about 12 weeks. Rockmelons are ripe when the skin between the webbing is no longer green and the melon smells sweet. Harvest rockmelon fruit when it slips from the stem of the vine. They should be fragrant when ripe and just about to break off from the vine.

Storing rockmelon at home:
After picking, store the rockmelon fruit for several days at room temperature to increase the flavour. Rockmelons are best eaten soon after picking as their flavour declines when kept in the refrigerator.

Rockmelon care and common problems:
Rockmelons do best in rich sandy and loamy soils that have excellent drainage. They need a pH of around 6 or higher. Rockmelons do not cope with acidity or being crowded, or having poor ventilation which can promote diseases such a mould and fungus. If rockmelon is sitting on the spot which is watered, the bottom of the melon can become soft and mouldy. The mould will go through to the inside of the melon. It is best to carefully move the melon if possible so it doesn’t rest on the damp ground. Mulch will help with mould as will watering in the morning so the rockmelon has time to dry off the plant during the warm summer day. Powdery mildew can affect the leaves as well as sap sucking pests such as aphids and ladybugs. Blossom end rot on the melons is caused by calcium deficiency in the soil.

Is rockmelon good for you?
When it comes to melons, you can’t do much better than rockmelon. It’s nutritious, delicious, and versatile. At 60 calories and no fat per 1-cup serving, adding cantaloupe to your diet arsenal is a smart way to get potent nutrients and sweetness into your healthy eating plan.

Rockmelon is a great source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, water, fiber and potassium.

Notes:
The surface of the rockmelon can contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella so it is always best to scrub and wash the melon prior to cutting then store the flesh covered in the fridge. Use within 3 days.

Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides:

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Category: Vegetable Garden

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