Many believe that the sugar cube cantaloupe is the best-ever melon among all the different melon types. The sweet, juicy fruit is the most disease-resistant and flavorful melon on the market with its hard and roughly netted exterior that protects the delicious orange flesh inside.
If you think you can’t grow one in your backyard because of space constraints, or perhaps you already have too many plants and fruits, you could be mistaken. Unlike larger, full-size melons, the sugar cube cantaloupe measures around 4 inches in length and weighs only about 2 to 4 pounds. This easy-to-grow melon can even be grown in a container under the right conditions.
Before we talk about planting and harvesting, let’s first get to know more about this tasty and juicy fruit.
History of the Fruit
This variation of the cantaloupe was initially bred in the early 2000s by the Seneca Vegetable Research in New York, a research foundation that focuses on innovative vegetable breeding. The purpose behind it was to create a melon that was immune to common diseases and could easily adapt to the natural growing conditions in the northeastern region of the United States.
1. Disease Free Melon
The sugar cube cantaloupe is resistant to diseases like zucchini yellow mosaic virus, papaya ringspot virus, watermelon mosaic virus, powdery mildew, fusarium wilt (0, 1, 2), as well as pollutant particles PM 1 and 2.
2. Sweet Taste and Look
The primary reason for the sugar cube’s popularity is its very sweet and aromatic flesh that’s particularly enjoyable in summers. The fruit is also small compared to other melons and is the perfect size for 1 to 2 people.
3. Easy To Grow With Long Shelf Life
The sugar cube cantaloupe is an easy plant to grow even for amateurs since it doesn’t require a lot of planting space. One plant can produce multiple fruits with an extended shelf life. You can also place them in cold storage after harvesting to further increase their shelf life.
How To Serve
The simplest and most common way to serve a sugar cube cantaloupe is by cutting its orange flesh into smaller pieces and serving them chilled or at normal room temperature, depending on your preference. The fruits are perfect as refreshing summer snacks. There are a few ways to cut a cantaloupe that you can refer to.
Sugar cube cantaloupes make great juices since they already have so much water content and sweetness that they don’t require a lot of added sugar or sweeteners. You can either blend cut pieces of the fruit in a blender for a glass of juice or follow a recipe like this one.
Cantaloupe smoothies make a great breakfast drink, letting you start the day on a tasty and healthy note. You can also whip up a cantaloupe smoothie before you hit the gym for a boost of energy during your workout or even after you’re done exercising to replenish your lost energy and water. Here’s a great recipe for a cantaloupe smoothie.
A sugar cube cantaloupe is rich in electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. It also contains phosphorous that combines with oxygen to form phosphate, another electrolyte.
It contains zinc, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K. Rich in nutrients and minerals, the sweet fruit isn’t just great for your tastebuds but for your health too. Here are some of its health benefits:
1. Hydrates Your Body
Sugar cube cantaloupes, like watermelons, are made up almost entirely of water (90%). This helps you stay hydrated, especially on hot summer days. The fruit is also rich in electrolytes, which help balance your bodily fluids and blood pH level. Its sugar content provides the energy that we need to do different tasks.
2. Improves Eye Health
Cantaloupes are rich in vitamin A, an important nutrient for good eyesight. It also contains beta-carotene, a provitamin carotenoid that either gets transformed into vitamin A or acts as an antioxidant to fight free radicals.
3. Lowers Blood Pressure
Cantaloupe is rich in potassium, a mineral that maintains the right water balance between body fluids and cells. It’s also low in sodium so it’s ideal for those with heart conditions since a combination of low sodium and high potassium helps reduce blood pressure and can improve heart health.
4. Good for People With Diabetes
Despite its sweetness, the sugar cube cantaloupe has a high amount of water which places it low on the glycemic index (4 out of 100). This means it’s a great, healthy snack for people with diabetes since it won’t cause their blood sugar levels to spike.
Cantaloupes are rich in phytonutrients, a type of compound with anti-inflammatory properties. This makes the fruit great for fighting different afflictions that are caused or exacerbated by swelling in the body.
Planting Culture and Harvesting
Growing a sugar cube cantaloupe in your backyard isn’t difficult as long as you know the conditions it needs to thrive.
Best Weather and Conditions To Grow
Any breed of cantaloupe requires a sunny location in warm, well-drained soil. An ideal site receives ample sunlight during the day and is close to a supply of water.
While you can directly plant sugar cube cantaloupes outdoors in the summer, it is recommended to grow them indoors in biodegradable pots for 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost to get a head start, especially if you live in a cold region.
Cantaloupes contain a high amount of water so it isn’t surprising that the plant requires plentiful moisture. During its stages of growth (including flowering), make sure to give it one to two inches of water every week.
Keep checking soil moisture by sticking your finger an inch deep into the soil, and water the area if it’s too dry. Once the vines start bearing fruit, lessen your watering to an inch of water per week then reduce it to half an inch of water a week before harvest.
When To Transplant Outside
Keep in mind that cantaloupe vines are pretty delicate and susceptible to frost. If you’re planning to grow them indoors before the last frost (recommended for those in colder regions), the sapling should not be transplanted outdoors until the soil temperature consistently remains above 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 21 degrees Celsius) and the danger of frost has passed.
The planting process is relatively simpler for those living in warm conditions as they can directly sow the melon seedlings in designated spots as soon as the soil temperature rises to at least 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 21 degrees Celsius).
Planting Depth and Space Between Seeds
Cantaloupe seeds need to be planted an inch into the soil, in groups of 2 or 3 seeds spaced 2 to 3 feet apart. Proper row spacing is recommended to ensure an optimal harvest.
For people with limited space, use a trellis to give the upcoming vine a support system and keep the plant spacing twelve inches apart. Sugar cube cantaloupes have a moderate growth rate and will grow to a height of approximately 18 inches.
Germination and Maturity
The germination of sugar cube cantaloupe seeds takes about 1 week under ideal conditions. It may take a bit longer if the soil temperature isn’t right so make sure to plant them at the right time with fertile, well-drained soil.
This variety of cantaloupe takes approximately 80 days to maturity from the day of germination, but it may be delayed by external factors.
It isn’t recommended to wait for the cantaloupe to drop from the vine. Instead, look for signs that it’s time to harvest early on, especially in warmer climates. The first sign to look for is the color of the fruit, which should change from a raw green to a ripe yellow or tan shade. Bring the fruit closer and take a whiff of the vine that’s attached to the fruit. If it smells sweet, the harvest window may have arrived.
A sure way of knowing is to gently tug and twist the cantaloupe from the vine and see if it comes off easily. If it doesn’t, let it ripen for another day or two before trying again.
Sugar cube cantaloupes have an excellent shelf life compared to other melons although garden-fresh melons taste the best! They can stay for a week or two in the refrigerator (however, they might start losing their original sweet flavor after the first week).
Where To Buy the Seeds and Fruit
Hopefully, we’ve convinced you that growing cantaloupe isn’t hard! As long as you’ve got the space for the vines and you enjoy nice, warm summers, you can be making trips to your garden this summer to pick what will undoubtedly be the best-tasting cantaloupes you’ve ever had.
If you’re not able to grow cantaloupe (or you’d rather just enjoy the fruit without having to grow it), the best quality sugar cube cantaloupes will be found at your local farmers’ market. They are also readily available in supermarkets and corner stores.
Put a Little Sugar in Your Garden This Year!
Since the sugar cube cantaloupe is the most disease-resistant variant of cantaloupe, it’s popular among gardeners. It is not only more convenient to grow but is arguably also the tastiest one. The fruit can be used in a variety of recipes including fruit salads, juices, smoothies, and more.
To learn even more about cantaloupe, check out our other cantaloupe blog posts. You’ll find information about other varieties, plus guides to help you grow your own sweet and tasty melons at home.