Growing Differences in Cultivars
The first step in knowing an approximate time of when you can pick your honeydew melons is paying attention to the days to harvest of the particular cultivar you’ve planted. The seed packet gives you a fairly accurate time frame of the days it takes from planting to harvesting, and is listed under “days to harvest.”
Of course, this date is dependent on the honeydew cultivar you are growing. Honeydew melons generally take anywhere from 80 to over 100 days from planting to picking, and some cultivars require a shorter growing time than others do. Those living in northern climates where the growing season is shorter should grow cultivars that have the shortest days to harvest.
Some honeydew cultivars and their length of growing time before picking include:
- ‘Sweet Reward’ is a hybrid cultivar with sweet, white flesh and a bright yellow skin. It’s ready for harvesting in 80 to 90 days.
- ‘Snow Mass’ has light green skin and flesh and known for sweetness. It take about 90 days for the melon to be ready for picking.
- ‘Honeydew Green’ produces 5-pound melons with green flesh and is an heirloom. Is ready for harvesting in about 100 to 120 days.
- ‘Honey Orange’ produces 3-pound fruits with orange flesh and is a good choice for northern gardens as it’s ready to harvest in about 75 days.
- ‘Dolce Nectar’ produces 6-pound fruits with pale green flesh that take about 90 days to harvest.
Expert Tip: Different honeydew melon cultivars can have greenish, white or orange flesh and the color doesn’t affect the melon’s sweetness.
Signs of Ripeness in Honeydews
It’s important to keep an eye on your honeydew melons and watch for the signs when they are at their prime sweetness and ready for harvesting. If you pick your melon while it’s still in its immature stage, the honeydew won’t continue to ripen and probably won’t be as sweet as if you allowed it to continue ripening on the vine. However, mature and ripe honeydews will continue to ripen for several days after harvesting when stored at room temperature.
Signs your melons are ready for picking include:
- The outer skin of the honeydew melon achieves its full color.
- The blossom end of the honeydew is slightly soft to the touch.
- Ripe honeydews are well-shaped, uniform in appearance and almost round.
- When ripe, honeydew melons give off a sweet scent.
- If you feel the outer skin of a ripe honeydew you should feel slight wrinkling, which is hard to see with the naked eye.
Picking Your Honeydews
Of all the steps in growing honeydew melons, actually harvesting the fruits is the easiest. Once you’ve established the melons have reached their prime stage of ripeness, it’s time to remove them from the vine. Unlike cantaloupes or muskmelons, honeydew melons don’t “slip from the vine.” This is the process of the ripe fruit dislodging itself from the attached vine naturally.
Using clean tools like a sharp knife or pruning snips, simply cut the honeydew away from the vine. It’s OK to wash any dirt from the melon and then bring inside for storage or use.
For the best taste, chill the honeydew melon in the refrigerator before eating. You can eat the melon raw, cut it up and use in salads or mix it in drinks. The melons are fat-free, low in cholesterol and calories, making it a tasty and healthy fruit. Whole honeydew melons retain their best quality for up to 21 days after picking, when stored at 45°F (7.2°C). When kept at room temperature, the melon retains its quality for up to two weeks.