This week our plant of the week – Israeli melon is another new vegetable that we discovered in our share box from the CSA to which we belong. The farm manager at our CSA is always ready to talk plants so after talking to him and then doing a little research, we have decided we need to add this one to our recommended list as well as our garden next year.
What is it?
Technically, the Israeli melon is a muskmelon. Muskmelons come in several varieties which are characterized by their skin. Some are smooth-skinned such as the honeydew, Crenshaw, and casaba melon. The remainder has netted skin such as the cantaloupe, Persian melon, and the Sant Claus or Christmas melon.
The Israeli Melon is a smooth-skinned melon that features creamy white flesh and a unique flavor. The thin skin and lack of netting make it unsuitable for shipping, so Israeli melons are rarely seen in the produce section of your supermarket. The best place to find them is at your local farmer’s market.
Growing the Plant of the Week – Israeli Melon
Israeli Melons are considered a “quick” melon taking 75 – 80 days to mature to harvest. These melons do well in subtropical, warm or temperate climates and, by all accounts, are quite at home in West Texas with the heat and abundance of sunshine.
If growing Israeli Melons from seed, plant seeds about 1” below the surface when your soil temperatures are consistently above 75 degrees F. The seeds should germinate in 7 to 14 days. We suggest planting your melons in hills spaced 12” apart with three to 5 seeds per hill.
Israeli melons grow well in most soils but prefer a well-drained location. Water well during the growing season, especially when temperatures go to the extremes. Melons require a lot of water to develop fruit properly. Some sources suggest at least 1” of water per week.
Feed well with compost tea fortified with fish emulsion or seaweed as a drench or apply as a foliar spray.
The melons will slip from the vine when ripe. Testing by giving a melon a gentle tug will tell you quickly of the melon is ripe. As melons near harvest, protect them from laying on damp ground. Place boards under the melons to protect them. The vines can be trellised, but care must be taken to support the melons as they ripen. Putting the melons in net bags (some people use old pantyhose) and tieing the bag to the trellis is a good method. This prevents the melon from falling to the ground and bursting if it slips from the vine.
Pests and Diseases
Like all melons, Israeli melons are vulnerable to downy mildew and other diseases that affect cucurbit crops. Cucumber beetles, squash bugs and borers are the most common pests.
Israeli Melons are great companion plants with corn, pumpkins, radish, or squash. Interplant your Israeli melons with marigolds, nasturtiums, and oregano to help deter and repel beetles and bugs.
After tasting these delicious and aromatic melons, they have earned a place on our favorites list. We will be adding them to our 2020 suggested plant list and putting a few hills in our garden next year. I think once you have experienced this delightful melon, it will be on your favorites list as well.
For more information about organic gardening, lifestyles and living visit our website at https://westtexasorganicgardening.com