The melons belong to the family of cucurbits, they seem to come from Africa or Asia, although the place of origin is difficult to identify because they were cultivated throughout the Mediterranean area starting from the times of the Egyptians; in ancient times it was used as a vegetable, and consumed with the addition of salt or aromatic herbs, however raw.
It is an annual plant, with creeping or climbing stem; generally the melon plants are left to develop on the ground, thus avoiding to provide them with suitable supports. They have large rough and slightly pubescent leaves, and produce innumerable flowers, although generally very few flowers then lead to the fruit; Cucumis melo plants have very different male and female flowers, in particular female flowers tend to develop later than male flowers.
The fruit is large, oval or roundish, with a smooth, rough skin or covered with thin furrows; the winter-ripening melons have golden-yellow peel and white pulp, those with summer ripening have yellow or orange flesh, varying in tonality and consistency depending on the variety.
The melons are fairly simple to cultivate, but we consider that they need excellent insolation and plenty of space: each Cucumis melo needs about two square meters at its complete disposal. For this reason it often does not find a place in small family gardens. It is planted in late spring, and the first fruits are obtained in about three months; generally to favor a greater development of female flowers tend to cimare the main stem and the lateral stems, leaving only 3-4 leaves for each stem, even if it seems that this practice is due more to the traditions of cultivation than to real agronomic needs.
Melon cultivation requirements
The flowerbed of melons, as we said before, must be placed in a very sunny place, the sun receives the plant and the fruits will be sweet and tasty.
The soil must be very well drained, rich and deep: the melons produce a large shallow root system, the weeds to remove weeds must therefore be light and superficial. The melon plants need regular watering, although they endure short periods of drought, however we avoid watering if the soil is still damp, and we suspend the supply of water completely when the fruit is close to maturation, to keep the pulp more sugary. The fruit is mature when there are wrinkles around the peduncle that keeps it attached to the plant, or even when the peduncle is detached from the fruit.
Melon - Cucumis melo: The melon of your dreams
The melons are eaten raw, as a fruit or even in salads; typically in Italy the melons are accompanied with raw ham, of which they dampen the saline taste. With the melon pulp jams are also prepared, the most famous and tasty is prepared with winter melon, flavored with lemon and cinnamon.
We all know what the main problem concerning melons is: if they are too ripe, they tend to become too soft, not very mature, they do not develop sufficient taste and aroma to be pleasant to taste. The choice of the melon is however quite simple, since at full maturity these fruits give off, even outside the skin, their unmistakable sweet and aromatic scent; then at the market we take our Cucumis melo in hand and smell it: if it gives off a good smell we check that the peel is firm and not yielding and then let's take it home to taste it, preferably cold. Many varieties of melons exist today on the market, and many fruit sellers make sure that we always guarantee melons at the right point of ripeness; there are varieties of melons with a firm and compact paste, and a variety of flesh that is more melting and soft, it is only a matter of taste which varieties to choose.