This old-time favourite heirloom, long beloved by popes, authors and royalty, originates from the south-eastern region of France. Its origins are traced back more specifically to the Charente region, and especially the town of Cavaillon, where a festival is held every year in honour of their rich history and legendary sweet taste.
The exact origin of the melon is uncertain, they either originated from the pope’s gardens in Avignon and were brought to Cavaillon during the 1300s, or the second theory is that Charles VIII brought back the melon seeds from the Italian city of Cantelupo and planted them in Cavaillon in the late 1400s.
There is now a ‘’Confrerie des Chevaliers de l’Ordre du Melon de Cavaillon,’’ a unique brotherhood that inspects the Charentais melons for their sugar content, flavour, appearance and density in order to maintain the melon’s highly regarded reputation.
This open-pollinated heirloom is highly profitable and a top seller at farmers markets, as it is hard to find outside of France, because the thin skin and soft flesh does not handle shipping well.
Charentais melon is a small varietal that grows to about 2-3 pounds each, roughly the size of a softball and the flesh is similar to cantaloupes but with a distinctly sweeter, honeyed and floral aroma. This old time-proven melon is cultivated mostly organically on a very small scale and is often used to improve the taste and texture of modern hybrid cantaloupes.
When harvesting, the melons should feel heavy for their size, and French folklore swears that the best melons bear ten stripes each. A Charentais melon is a fabulous melon to pair with cheeses such as feta and goat, with nuts like almonds, pistachios, walnuts and hazelnuts, and herbs such as mint, basil, rosemary, citrus, chocolate and vanilla.
- Latin Name: Cucumis melo
- Life Cycle: Annual
- Days to Maturity: 75-90
- Planting Depth: 1 cm
- Plant Spacing: 60-90 cm or 30 cm with trellis
- Row Spacing: 1-1.5 m
- Growth Habit: Vine
Melons are a classic long season summer crop that thrive with plenty of water, heat and sun. Cantaloupes and honeydew are two different types of muskmelon. Cantaloupe is easily recognized by the coarse tan netting of the rind and is defined by a sweet, orange flesh. Honeydew typically have smooth skin and a mellow green interior.
Start seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last spring frost. Keep seeds warm, moist and well lit. Don’t rush to get transplants into the garden, wait until soil temperatures exceed 16°C. At this temperature, seeds can be sown directly. Plant seeds at 3 cm deep and 45 cm apart.
Melons need plenty of light to produce their sweet fruits, so use a space that receives full sun. The soil should be well-drained. Melons can also be planted in mounds or hilled rows to improve drainage.
Plenty of water is important during the vegetative and fruiting phases. They should receive 3-5 cm of water weekly. Once fruits are well established, withhold the heavy watering. The dryness and heat will force the sweetest fruit. Make an effort to water early in the day and keep foliage as dry as possible. Spread mulch away from the base of the plant in order to retain moisture and provide a dry bed for the heavy fruits.
Be good to your pollinators! Male and female flowers are produced and need healthy native insects to aid in fertilization. Once melons are growing, flowers can be thinned from the vines to concentrate size and quality to a few fruits.
Approaching harvest time, pay close attention to the colour of the skin and the condition of the stem. Melons are probably ripe when skin changes from green to tan or the stem is dry/cracked near the fruit.
- Muskmelon is thought to have first originated somewhere between Africa and Asia. It was among the first plants to ever be domesticated and cultivated.
- Melon seeds will remain viable for 4 years if stored in a cool, dark place, ideally between 4 and 10⁰C. After that, the germination rate may start to go down.
OUR SEED GUARANTEE
You know that a lush, fruitful garden needs good soil, frequent watering, and sunlight to grow, but it’s the seeds that really make the harvest.
Picked and bagged for 2023 the vast majority of our seeds have germination rates of over 85%. The seeds are all-natural, non-GMO, non-hybrid, untreated, and open-pollinated for seed saving.
We have put a lot of thoughts into the design and packaging of our seed packets. Our seeds are all carefully packed in food grade kraft paper/aluminium zipper lock bags, and then are shipped in eco-friendly padded mailers.
We heat-seal each of our seed packet for even more protection from moisture, odour and light, allowing you to store your seeds for up to 3x longer than paper or plastic. Plant them all, germinate some indoors, save some for next season - it’s up to you!