Hales Best Jumbo is one of the more popular varieties of heirloom cantaloupe. Dating back to 1924, Hales Best is a great early non-hybrid.
Flesh is orange, sweet, fragrant and delicious. Average: 85 days
Detailed planting instructions:
If you have long, hot growing seasons direct-seed into garden. To
ensure ripening in areas with shorter growing seasons and cooler
weather, choose fast-maturing varieties, start plants inside, use black
or IRT plastic mulch to warm soil and use fabric row covers to protect
Direct-seed 1 to 2 weeks after average last frost when soil is 70 F or
warmer. Plant ½ inch deep, 6 seeds per hill, hills 4 to 6 feet apart;
or 1 foot apart in rows 5 feet apart. Can plant at closer spacings if
trellised. Thin to 2 to 3 plants per hill.
For transplanting, sow seeds indoors ¼ inch deep in peat pots (2-inch
square or bigger), 2 to 4 weeks before setting out. Plants should have
one or two true leaves when transplanted.
Transplant at same spacings as direct-seeded crops - 2 to 3 plants per
hill in hills spaced 4 to 6 feet apart, or 1 to 2 feet apart in rows 5
feet apart. Transplants are delicate and roots are sensitive to
disturbance. If you need to thin, use scissors. Keep soil intact around
plant when transplanting.
Mulch plants after soil has warmed to help maintain consistent moisture and suppress weeds.
If using fabric row covers, remove at flowering to allow pollination by bees. Good pollination is critical to fruit set.
Plants require consistent moisture until pollination. Once fruits are
about the size of a tennis ball, only water if soil is dry and leaves
show signs of wilting.
To prevent insect damage to developing fruits, place melons on pots or pieces of wood.
If growing melons on a trellis, support fruit with slings made from
netting, fabric, or pantyhose. Trellising improves air circulation
around plants and can help reduce foliar disease problems. Choose
small-fruited varieties and reduce plant spacing.
For large plantings, leave a strip of rye cover crop every second or
third row perpendicular to prevailing winds to protect plants from
To reduce insect and disease problems, avoid planting cucumber family
crops (melons, squash, pumpkins) in the same spot two years in a row.
Cantaloupe should have a yellowish orange color and be just slightly
soft ONLY on the stem end. This end should also be a rounded small
cavity with no pieces of stem left. This would mean it was picked before
it was ripe. There may be some bleaching on the skin where the melon
was laying on the soil, and that is okay, but it shouldn't be green or
have dark, soft spots.
Cantaloupes are ripe when they pull off the vine with
ease...no pulling should be necessary. You'll want to watch the fruit
carefully and harvest daily once they start to ripen. Some people
"thump" their melons and listen for a hollow sound which means they are
ripe. You can also look for the base of the stem to look cracked, which
is a sign it will pull off easily. Refrigerate melons immediately after
harvesting or bringing home from the market.
Pick the fruit at the peek of ripeness. The seeds inside the melon will
have matured by this time and can be harvested as you enjoy the outer
fruit. Cut the melon with a sharp knife and carefully scoop out the
inner seed lining and save them for processing the seeds. Place the
seedy pulp into a bowl and remove as much of the pulp as possible by
hand. Discard the pulp and add warm water to the bowl. You can then skim
the surface of the water to remove seeds that will not produce plants,
as they will be floating on the top. Rinse the rest of the seeds once
more to remove any remaining sugar and pulp and place on a screen to
Allow these seeds to dry for about 3 days. Place the seeds in a bag
and mark with type of seeds they are and when they were harvested.
Place the bag in the freezer until next season.
- Comes in E-Z Lock resealable, reusable triple-layered foil packets
- Seeds are open pollinated and can be grown, harvested, and replanted endlessly
- Dried & sealed airtight for long-term storage
- Nutritional value: An excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, and calcium.