What cantaloupe should I plant in my garden in eastern Kentucky? I planted the variety ‘Athena’ with no success.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Ed: Successfully growing fruits and vegetables in the home garden can be a very rewarding accomplishment but when it does not work out as planned do not give up just re-evaluate the situation. The most important aspect to consider is the cultural conditions in which your cantaloupe was growing. This vegetable should be grown in a space that receives full sun. A minimum of six hours of direct sun is necessary for best production. Cantaloupe prefers to grow in a sandy or loamy soil that is fertile and has excellent drainage. The soil pH should be slightly acidic (6.1-6.5) or neutral (6.6-7.5) If your melons were growing in a space that has previously been used for growing other vine crops or peppers this could be the problem. It is best to stick to a three-year rotation because of potential disease problems. The most common problems associated with cantaloupes are bacterial wilt, mildew, and aphids. ‘Athena’ is a cultivar that is recommended by the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture so I would suspect that the crop failure had more to do with the growing conditions. If you have not had your soil tested you can do so through the Cooperative Extension Service. The results will give you the soil pH as well as other beneficial information. If you would like to try another cultivar, the 2009 list for recommended vegetable cultivars for the Kentucky garden is available at www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id133/id133.pdf. Cantaloupes require a lot of room in the garden. Each plant will need 4-6 feet to mature. Planting on mounds and mulching will help prevent weeds and potential mildew as well as maintain moisture levels.