Wait until all danger of frost has passed. Your soil needs to be warm and dry. You can use landscape fabric or black plastic to warm your soil, as well as keep weeds and ants at bay. It’s not a good idea to continue using the plastic if you live in an area with very hot summers, as it can overheat the soil, which will kill the plants and sterilize the soil.
Melons can be started indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost date, and use peat pots to avoid disturbing the roots.
Plant your melon seeds in a mound of dirt that is 6-12” high, planting 2-3 seeds around the top of the mound, with at least 2” between the seeds. The vines will grow down the mound, so your mounds should be 2-4’ apart to allow plenty of vine room. Melons need fertilizing and plenty of water. Unless your vines are dropping support roots (this usually happens if there is a break, or if you bury the vine), only water and fertilize at the base of the actual plant. Water about 2” per week. Trickle irrigation systems are the best for most gardens.
Melons have male and female flowers, and can experience the same blossom-end rot issues as watermelon. Use pots, pantyhose, or cardboard to keep the fruits off the ground to help prevent fruiting issues. If you decide to use a trellis for your melons, pantyhose or other slings will be your best bet since the fruit is hanging and will start putting pressure on your vines. You’ll be harvesting your fruit in the late summer or the fall. Usually you get 2-3 melons per vine, and watering is key to getting sweeter melons. If you water less during the 3 weeks leading up to your harvest, your melons should come out sweeter. Harvest your melons in the later morning.
Check the melon for fragrance (it is called musk melon)
The stem will separate easily from the fruit
The “netting” will change from green to a tan-yellow color
If your cantaloupe is hard, it will soften off the vine, but will NOT sweeten
When the rind turns a creamy color
The blossom end will be slightly soft
Honeydews don’t slip from the vine, they must be cut
Once picked, let it ripen on the counter for a few days (keep them at room temperature)