If you’ve ever had a freshly picked, ripe cantaloupe vs. one purchased at the supermarket, you know what a treat it is. Many gardeners opt out on growing their own melons due to the space a sprawling melon patch takes up, but that’s where growing a cantaloupe vertically on a trellis comes in to play. Trellised cantaloupes utilize a much smaller portion of the garden, allowing even those with limited space to grow their own. Intrigued? Read on to find out how to grow cantaloupes vertically and other information about growing vertical cantaloupe melons.
Why Grow Vertical Cantaloupe Melons?
As mentioned, cantaloupes can take up a good chunk of the garden, around 3-4 feet (about a meter or so) between plants and a potential sprawl of 20 feet (6 m.)! With more and more people on the planet, space is at a premium in the garden and out. Many gardeners have to come up with creative solutions in order to grow crops on postage stamp sized plots. Growing cantaloupes vertically allows gardeners with even the smallest garden area to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Another benefit of growing upward rather than outward is ease of harvest. In a traditional melon patch, the gardener finds his or herself doing some sort of garden yoga, twisting and stretching to get a gander at how close they are to harvesting. Also, growing a cantaloupe on a trellis will keep the fruit clean and resistant to chewing pests, as well as keeping the foliage dry, thus less susceptible to disease.
Lastly, have you ever tried to weed a sprawling melon patch? It’s nearly impossible but it’s easy to weed beneath trellised cantaloupes. So don’t let the size of a melon patch deter you. Grow trellised cantaloupes and take advantage of that vertical space.
A vertical trellis can be made out of a myriad of materials, but in the case of growing cantaloupe, you want to be sure that whatever you select is sturdy. Remember, you’re dealing with heavy, dense fruit and very long vines, so there is some significant weight to support.
Some strong materials you might consider include concrete reinforcing wire mesh, hog fencing, welded wire, and livestock panels. You also want something that will create tight enough gaps for the vines to clamber upon. Consider whether you are making a tall trellis or arbor, or whether you just want a shorter vertical support. If you are making an arbor, the arch will need extra strength so some PVC pipe might be in order.
You will also need solid posts upon which to secure the support material. U-posts, or other steel posts should fit the bill, or even solid wood posts. Once you have the vertical support constructed over your melon hill, be sure it is securely zip tied or otherwise wired together.
As the vines grow, they should naturally entwine in and around the support. Use old nylons, pieces of t-shirt or other scrap cloth to create slings for the melons as they mature; otherwise, they will get too heavy and drop from the vine. Keep the slings tight enough to support the cantaloupe but with enough give to allow room for the melon to grow.