The Montreal Market melon is an heirloom that was recently rediscovered, as it has quite a rich history of cultivation. The earliest records of this melon are from 1684 by the Jesuits, who were cultivating the muskmelon on the fertile plains of Montreal. Sometime in the mid-1800s, probably due to its place of origin and larger size, the name ‘’Montreal Melon’’ stuck to the variety. The popular melon was listed in the 1880 Burpee Seed Catalogue as ‘’one of the best sellers in New England.’’
During the early 1900s, many growers were cultivating the ‘’Montreal Melon’’ along the shores of the St.Lawrence all the way to Vermont, due to its extreme profitability. The melons were selling wholesale at $10/dozen and $1.25 to $1.75 each back in 1907! Some fields in the NDG neighbourhood of Montreal were guarded by armed men at night, as the crops were so valuable at the time.
Its fine, green flesh with sweet aromas of nutmeg and ginger propelled the Montreal Melon to the menus of five-star restaurants in New York and other big cities of the north east. As the highways paved the island of Montreal along with the rise of homogenization in the food system during the 1950s, the non-uniform and somewhat fragile melon (compared to the other new varieties) slowly vanished from gardens and collective memory until it completely disappeared.
It was only in 1991 that a Montreal journalist found what was most likely the very last seeds in a seed bank maintained by the US Department of Agriculture in Iowa. By the late 90s, the variety was patiently resuscitated by a few enthusiastic gardeners. It is still a very rare melon today and not cultivated on a large scale, but it is said to be one of the best melon you will ever taste! Here is a link to the full story: https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/montreal-melon-comes-home-long-lost-delicacy-taking-root-in-n-d-g)
The Montreal Market melons are quite large compared to other short-season melons, and they were the largest melons available for a long time. They are best picked when slightly under-ripe, before the rinds turn yellow and the fruit softens, at 8-12 pounds. You can let them grow larger if you wish, up to 40 pounds or so, but the flesh will decline in quality. The melons are round with flattened ends, deeply ribbed, with a thin rind. The mythical green flesh is netted and thick, with a refined flavour and subtle nutty undertones. Pruning is highly recommended to improve productivity. Not the easiest melon to grow, but well worth the effort!
- Life Cycle: Annual
- Days to Maturity: 90-110
- Planting Depth: 1 cm
- Plant Spacing: 90-120 cm
- 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 2022, 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!