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The Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe: a Great Cantaloupe for Short-Summer Gardens

Do you enjoy trying heirloom variety fruits? Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe, also known as the Hoodoo Melon, may just be one to add to your list. This classic variety is known for its thick, sweet flesh and early ripening.

A ripe cantaloupe cut into sections on an outdoor table.

It may not be a variety you see in stores, due to its short shelf life and thin rind, but it’s making a resurgence among homegrown fruit lovers because of its unmistakable sweetness. Read on to learn more about this unique variety and what makes it so special!

History of the Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe

The Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe originated in Benton Harbor, Michigan in 1890, where farmer Roland Parker Morill crossed the Osage and Netted Gem varieties of cantaloupe and created Hearts of Gold. Morill’s new variety was granted a trademark in 1914. It soon became very popular to grow in Michigan, as well as many other states, in the 1920s and 1930s.

The variety soon went out of style when several hybrid cultivars were introduced that were not as susceptible to many of the diseases that heirloom varieties were. Luckily, some people saved and continued to grow the Hearts of Gold, so that the fruit can be enjoyed by present-day cantaloupe lovers!

Technically, this cantaloupe is a type of muskmelon. Muskmelons belong to the gourd family, as do all squash, watermelons, and pumpkins. Just remember: all cantaloupes are a type of muskmelons, but not all muskmelons are cantaloupes.

Characteristics

Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe has a thick flesh with a very thin rind, or skin, making them difficult to ship and transport without getting damaged. This cantaloupe’s rind has a dense netting pattern with medium ribs, while the flesh is a juicy, golden-orange color.

A canteloupe half on a blue wooden table, similar to a hearts of gold cantaloupe melon.

The fruits grow to around five to seven inches in diameter, weighing anywhere from two to three pounds. They are considered medium-sized cantaloupe. Their shelf life is usually anywhere from five to seven days, while they keep in the refrigerator after slicing for three to four days.

The vigorously growing vines of the cantaloupe feature both male and female flowers. The pollination period is very short (often only one day!), so the plants have to have bees present to pollinate and produce fruit. The vines can trail to around six feet long like other squash varieties in the garden, so they need room to spread.

Eating the Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe

What Does It Taste Like?

If you like ultra-sweet cantaloupe, you’ve researched the right variety! Hearts of Gold is one of the sweetest cultivars in the world of cantaloupe.

A plate of cantaloupe cut into cubes.

Cooking With the Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe

There are a number of ways to use this cantaloupe in the kitchen. The small seed cavities in the fruit give it a juicy, thick flesh that’s easy to work with. Just make sure to remove any seeds before serving.

Slice your cantaloupe, and eat it as a snack, or use it in a fresh fruit salad.

Before eating, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water, and wash the outside rind of the cantaloupe. Once you’ve sliced your cantaloupe, store it in the refrigerator. The fruit is sensitive to temperature and can grow bacteria if left out at room temperature.

Since the Hearts of Gold variety has a relatively short shelf life, a great way to use the fruit is to make it into a jam or preserve. If you have several canning jars ready to use, you can make cantaloupe jam and have it ready to use until your next harvest of cantaloupe.

Health Benefits

Historically, the Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe was used to cleanse the body and skin. The fruits are high in potassium, which could be helpful for high blood pressure.

Cantaloupes also contain Vitamin A and Vitamin C, which work to keep your body healthy against illnesses like heart disease and cancer. Vitamin A, produced from beta-carotene, also keeps our eyes and skin healthy.

Because the fruit is so water-dense, it’s low in calories, making it a great snack choice.

Growing It at Home

Can you Grow the Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe at Home?

Yes! These cantaloupes are hardy from zones five to eleven. They have a short growing season with high productivity, so they are great for areas that have short summers.

Starting from Seed

Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe take 80 to 90 days to mature, so depending on your zone, time your plantings to take advantage of the hot, late summertime. It’s best to direct sow your seeds in the soil one to two weeks after your last frost.

A cantaloupe seedling with two leaves in a garden.
A cantaloupe seedling.

Cantaloupes are susceptible to transplant shock, so while you can start your seeds early, it’s recommended that you don’t.

If you have a short growing season and need to start your seeds indoors, there are still ways to see success. Start your cantaloupe seeds in a compostable pot with a removable bottom or in biodegradable paper, so you can move the seedlings directly into the soil while still in their container.

Soil

The Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe prefers well-drained, sandy or loamy soils with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Cantaloupes are heavy nutrient-feeders and need lots of potassium and phosphorus to produce healthy vines and fruit. It’s recommended that you amend your soil with compost and a 10-10-10 (containing nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus) fertilizer.

Light

Cantaloupes love the sun! They need eight to ten hours of day of full sun to thrive. When considering your garden layout, make sure you don’t plant any tall fruits, vegetables, or flowers near your cantaloupe that will shade them out.

Temperature

Not only do they love the sun, cantaloupes love hot weather. They prefer 90-degree days in the late summer months. Don’t worry if they wilt midday. This is normal, and they will perk up once the sun begins to set.

Cantaloupe on the vine.

Planting and Care Instructions

Plant your seeds in the soil one to two inches deep in groups of four to six seeds. Thin your group to three seedlings once they are two inches high. Keep your rows spaced out about 12 to 24 inches.

The seeds can either be planted in thick compost or in hills to insure they are well-drained. If you don’t have a lot of growing room, consider growing your cantaloupes up a trellis, using slings to support your fruit.

Once your plant begins to grow, make sure to keep leaves dry to avoid powdery mildew and disease. The fruits will also need to be kept off the ground to avoid rot and disease. Use a plastic stand with drain holes or a thick pile of pine needles underneath the fruit.

Also, make sure to keep weeds under control. Since cantaloupes need so many nutrients, any competing weeds will diminish their nutrient supply.

Harvesting

Reduce the amount of water you give your cantaloupe plants a couple of weeks before harvest time to produce the best fruit. Once the cantaloupes are ripe and ready, the skin will be brown or tan with a fruity scent. It will be firm to the touch, but not rock hard. The fruit will usually have a crack near the stem, and the leaves and vines will have started to die back.

If the fruit has already self-detached, it is likely overripe by that point, so make sure it is still connected. Cut your fruit off the vine with a sharp knife, and you are ready to store your harvest!

Where to Buy Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe

Where to Buy Seeds

Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe seeds can easily be found online from online seed distributors such as Burpee or Amazon. You may also find this variety in the seed vestibule at big box stores that carry the Ferry-Morse brand, such as Lowe’s and Walmart.

Where to Buy the Fruit

Because this cantaloupe has such a short shelf life, you probably won’t find this fruit in your local produce aisle. The Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe are making a comeback with local gardeners though, so check your local farmers’ markets and fruit stands for this charming variety!

A market display of organic cantaloupe.

Great Companion Plants for Hearts of Gold Cantaloupe

Fruits and vegetables are known for having good and bad companions in the garden. The cantaloupe in particular loves being planted next to marigolds, radishes, nasturtium, or any kind of squash.

The main three plants you want to avoid planting next to cantaloupe are potatoes, cucumbers, and watermelon because they are often susceptible to the same pests.

Grow Hearts of Gold Cantaloupes in Your Garden!

If you are interested in trying to grow a boutique variety of cantaloupe, Hearts of Gold is a great choice. The sweet flavor alone will justify the space in your garden.

Closeup of the outside of a cantaloupe melon.

If you have any experience with this particular variety, we would love to hear about it in the comment section below. Want to know more about cantaloupes? Check out our other blog posts on this fun fruit!