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When it comes to summer fruits, Cantaloupes may not be that famous compared to its cousin, the Watermelon. However, know that the sweet juicy Cantaloupe is similarly nutritious and offer lots of culinary uses. While it can be tedious and costly to make frequent trips to your local market whenever you crave the sugary fruit, you can save more by growing your own in the garden. This tasty fruit is surprisingly simple to nurture, and growing Cantaloupe in Aquaponics Gardens will ensure you have a stable supply of this sugary sweetness right in your own backyard.
In this article, we will discuss how you can cultivate top-quality Cantaloupe in your Aquaponics system.
Why Grow Cantaloupe in your Aquaponics Garden?
Cantaloupe belongs to the Gourd or Cucurbitaceae family. Other members of this group are Watermelon, Cucumber, Squash, and Pumpkin. While experts have yet to establish the exact origins of the Cantaloupe, most research suggests they were originally from Africa or South Asia.
These round fruits are typically sweet, which makes them a staple among desserts and fresh drinks. Moreover, consuming Cantaloupes keeps you well hydrated since they consist of 90% water. Countries that commercially produce the fruit are China, Iran, India, Turkey, and the United States.
Common Varieties of Cantaloupe
While it’s easy to assume that all Cantaloupes are made equal, there are actually several varieties of the fruit. Here are the three common types of Cantaloupe:
This variety is also known as Cucumis melo reticultus. You will notice them featuring light yellow netted skin with soft rinds. The North American type does not show any ribbing; however, they boast orange, juicy Cantaloupe flesh.
Compared to the North American type, the Asian Cantaloupe has faint netted skin. These varieties feature crisp, light orange flesh, pallid green or yellow rind, and oblong shape.
Cucumis melo cantalupensis or European Cantaloupe displays pale green or tan, minimally netted skin. These varieties have a firmer rind and visible ribbing. Their flesh is juicy and fragrant; however, they have mild pungent taste and smell.
Cooking with the Cantaloupe From Your Aquaponics Garden
A lot of people prefer eating fresh sliced Cantaloupe as a snack or dessert. Others love mixing the fruit in salads or adding them as a topping in their yogurt. While you will usually see them in ice creams, people also love Cantaloupe as an antipasto or an appetizer where you wrap the prosciutto in several pieces of the fruit.
You can likewise blend Cantaloupe juice with water to make yourself a fresh fruity beverage. Otherwise, if you want a refreshing drink with a kick, then you should try this Cantaloupe Ginger cocktail.
Health Benefits of Cantaloupe
The USDA Food Central states that a serving of 1 cup (100 grams) of Cantaloupe will furnish you the following nutrients:
- Potassium – 157 milligrams
- Iron – 0.4 milligrams
- Sodium – 30 milligrams
- Calcium – 9 milligrams
- Zinc – 0.4 milligrams
Cultivating Cantaloupe in your Aquaponics Garden
Some people avoid planting fruits because they think they are tricky to cultivate. However, the round, huge Cantaloupe may be big, but they are relatively easy to produce. Below is a simple guideline you can follow in growing Cantaloupe in Aquaponics gardens:
You can cultivate your Cantaloupe using the Media Bed method.
For your Cantaloupe to thrive, see to it you have a pH range between 6.0 to 6.8.
The fruit needs 8 hours of sunlight daily. If your Aquaponics system is in a location that does not receive sunlight, consider placing grow lights.
Water and Air Temperature
Cantaloupes are warm, loving fruits. They prefer water and air temperature between 70°F to 90°F.
Because of their size, plant your Cantaloupe 4 to 6 feet apart to make sure fruits will not compete for essential nutrients.
Growing media such as Vermiculite and Perlite are ideal for planting the fruit.
When cultivating Cantaloupe, you can begin by placing seeds in a peat starter. Remember, they love warm climates; hence their seed germination will require temperatures approximately 60°F to 95°F.
Sprouts will most likely appear in roughly ten days. When this happens, carefully transfer plants into your media bed with your chosen growing medium. Remember, plant roots are sensitive so see to it that you don’t harm them during the transfer process. Also, the fruit vines will certainly spread so make sure you train them to crawl on a trellis or fence.
Flowers will start to appear when the vines reach at least 18 inches. Similar to Watermelon, Cantaloupe produces both female and male flowers. The male ones will appear first, then the female flowers, which generate the fruits, will grow weeks after. After successful female flower pollination, you can harvest fruits 35 to 45 days after, or depending on the Cantaloupe variety you have chosen.
If you are looking for a challenge, consider raising Barramundi when growing Cantaloupe in Aquaponics gardens. This hardy fish can survive various living conditions, plus they prefer a warm climate. The ideal water temperature for Barramundi is between 74°F to 86°F, which is compatible with the Cantaloupe.
Observe for harmful pests such as Cucumber beetles and Aphids when growing Cantaloupe in Aquaponics gardens. Monitor for diseases like Wilt, Root rot, and Stem blight as well.
Common problems growing Aquaponic Cantaloupe
In cultivating Cantaloupe, you will need a substantial place for them to grow. The fruit also produces sprawling vines, thus, requiring you to construct a solid support structure for them. You can either build a fence or trellis where the vines can climb. Some assemble an A-frame so that the structure can completely support the weight of the fruit.
Finally, here are a few quick tips for storing your Cantaloupe.
You can keep your ripe Cantaloupe in the fridge for about a week to prevent spoiling. If you have sliced Cantaloupes, fully wrap them in plastic before storing them in the refrigerator. Make sure to consume them within three days.