Sunday, April 20, 2008

John Cougar Camp

Why do melons always get married in a church? Because they can’t elope!!

Cantaloupe is an orange fleshed variety of muskmelon that can be eaten by itself or mixed with other fruit and served as a salad topped with yogurt, ice cream or custard. Native to the Middle Eastern country of Armenia, cantaloupes were originally cultivated in the early eighteenth century at Tivoli, Italy at the summer residence of the Pope.

Although the cantaloupe is prized for its sweet taste, it also has a number of chemicals that benefit the cardiovascular and immune system. These compounds, known to chemists as polyphenol antioxidants, regulate the production of nitric acid, which in turn are instrumental in protecting the linings of blood vessels and preventing heart attacks.

Growing cantaloupes is not as simple a matter of putting the seed in the ground after the long weekend in May since a warm soil temperature is absolutely critical for the seeds to germinate. The best bet for starting these rascals is to plant the seed in Jiffy pots no earlier than April 15 and maintain the temperature at 18°-24°C for 5-7 days. The emerging plants should be kept indoors in a warm sunny location until all risk of frost is past and then transplanted into warm sandy ground.

Good pollination is essential not only for the number of fruit, but for the sweetness as well. The muskmelon was so named because of the sweet musky smell that is emitted at the stem end of a ripened melon. The rule of thumb is the greater the smell, the sweeter the fruit. An odourless stem end likely means the flesh will be tasteless as well.