Among many delicious melons that are too fragile to ship, the French cantaloupes are at the top of our list. Perfectly sized for a half-melon serving, the French Charentais types have thick, firm, orange flesh and a small seed cavity. When ripe, their smooth, blue-green skin turns yellow, and the melons slip easily from their stems. If those signs of readiness are not enough, just the aroma of a ripe Charentais in the patch is a dead giveaway. The flavor is perfumed and tropically exotic, too — distinct from the more typical netted-skinned varieties.
Can be direct sown in warmer climates after soil temperatures reach 70, plant 3-4 seeds 1/2” deep in hills 3-4’ apart on rows 5-6’ apart. Once established, thin to two strongest plants. For cooler climates we prefer to start in pots in the greenhouse and transplant later when night time temperatures stay above 55 degrees. Start seedlings 3 weeks before last frost. Once seedlings are 4” tall and soil temperatures are 70, plant in rich loose soil.
Keep well watered until fruits are tennis ball sized and then water only if absolutely needed. (We know organic farmers that never water them and grow amazinging melons, but a great deal depends on your soil.)
Remember, you must have a healthy population of pollinators like bees to get a good fruit set.