Who doesn’t love the subtly sweet taste of a freshly harvested honeydew melon? Knowing when and how to harvest your honeydew melon can be a challenge. You have to consider the feel of the melon against your hand, the aroma it exudes, where and when to cut it from the vine, and what kind of tools you’ll need to harvest.
It can feel overwhelming, but not to worry; in this post, I’ll walk you through the necessary tips to help you figure out the process of how and when to harvest honeydew melon that works best for you.
Preparing Your Honeydew Melon for Harvesting
Before introducing the necessary tools and what to look for when you harvest honeydew melon, I’ll give you the basic planting knowledge to help you on your honeydew harvesting journey.
Honeydew melons are a warm-weather crop. Making spring, after the last frost when the weather is around 65 to 75 degrees, is a perfect time to start planting your seeds.
To keep the honeydew plant hydrated, you’ll need to give it around 2 inches of water every week.
Honeydew melons do best when grown in light, fertile soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. Since melons are heavy feeders, you’ll want to add either compost or manure to your mix to allow it to feed while it continues to grow.
When spacing out your honeydew seeds, it’s best to plant them ½ inch deep and 12 inches apart, giving each plant enough space to grow.
Pests and Diseases
Like all crops, you’ll want to look for signs of pests and diseases. So make sure to check your plants every couple of days for brown spots and holes on the leaves of your honeydew plant.
A part of the growing process that is essential to a successful honeydew melon harvest is pruning. When the melons have started to grow, you’ll want to only keep a small number of melons on the vine. This is where “survival of the fittest” comes in. You’ll only want to keep the melons that appear to be growing at a steady pace with green leaves.
Leaving too many melons on the plant could cause the plant to end up breaking due to the weight, leaving it to dry out and die.
It’s best if you keep 3 to 4 melons per plant, this will ensure that they ripen quicker and grow to a larger size.
Now comes the fun part, learning the tricks of the trade for how and when to harvest honeydew melon.
How to Know When to Harvest Honeydew Melon
From seed to fully grown, the honeydew melon will take about three months. Still, unlike other members of the muskmelon family, they will not fall off the vine when ripened, and similar to other melons, the honeydew will not continue to ripen once cut from the vine.
This means when you’re preparing to harvest the honeydew melon, you’ll want to ensure that it’ll be ripe enough to eat.
Making it even more important to know the signs that your honeydew is ripe before you harvest them.
Signs Your Honeydew Melon Is Ripe
The first way to tell that your honeydew is ready for harvest is its smell. I know that might sound strange, but if you get close enough, you should be able to smell a sweet, semi-floral aroma coming from the melon.
Another way to tell if your honeydew is ready for harvest is by touching the blossom end; this is the opposite end of where the vine connects to the melon. Use your thumb, and slightly push down; if it has a little give but springs back, your melon is probably ripe.
You can also look at the color of the melon on the vine. If the honeydew’s rind is a creamy yellow color instead of green, then go ahead and touch it. Does it feel bumpy and waxy? If so, it’s a good indicator that your honeydew melon is ready for harvest.
Checking the tendrils is also a great method to tell if the honeydew is almost fully ripe. They will start to brown and become dry when it’s close to harvesting time. The leaves closest to the fruit on the vine will also start to fade from green to a yellow color.
Signs Your Honeydew Melon Is Either Overripe or Unripe
Suppose you notice that your honeydew is still relatively small compared to its expected size of 4 to 7.5 pounds and smooth to the touch. In that case, your melon will still need a little more time to ripen on the vine.
If the honeydew melon has fallen off its vine, it means that the melon has become overripe/ gone bad and should no longer be eaten. That’s why checking your plant every few days is recommended, especially if it’s coming up on the 3-month mark of having planted the seeds.
After checking your honeydew, using any or all these methods, whichever you choose, it’s time to harvest your honeydew melon.
How to Harvest Honeydew Melon
Now that you know how to tell when to harvest honeydew melon, it’s time to learn about the different tools you’ll need to make this process as easy as possible.
Harvesting Honeydew Melons With Gardening Sheers
There are a few different methods people use to harvest the honeydew melon, one of which is the use of gardening sheers, or any type of sharp scissors, as long as they aren’t blunt. The reason is that if you were to pull too hard on the honeydew melon or twist and pull as you would, let’s say, an orange or lemon from a tree, it could cause the vine to distort.
Tearing and twisting the vine while harvesting the honeydew melon can cause damage to the vine. Which, if found to be unrepairable, that particular vine won’t be able to yield any more fruit.
You might be asking yourself, “can you really repair a damaged plant?” The answer is yes; if you happen to find it before it completely dries out, take the two ends and gently moisten them, then hold the two pieces together and either use tape or a lite dab of super glue/gorilla glue. Hold tightly until it feels sturdy, and then it should be good to go.
Harvesting Honeydew Melons by Hand
Another method of harvesting the honeydew melon is using your hands. Instead of cutting, grab the honeydew with both your hands and gently pull; this slight tug will usually be enough to release the melon from its vine.
If the melon is hard to get off, it could mean it’s not ripe yet. However, if it passes most of the tests listed in the section, How to tell if your honeydew is ripe and ready to harvest, it may just be difficult to take off. In that case, don’t force it, just grab your gardening sheers.
For both of these honeydew melon harvesting methods, you’ll want to make sure that you cut as close to where the vine connects to the melon, as this will leave the least amount of damage to your honeydew plant.
Why Is Knowing How to Harvest Honeydew Melons Such a Useful Skill?
We all know that the economic climate as of late has been a rollercoaster. With supply chains coming close to a standstill and the increase in the price of goods, it can feel like the world is closing in on you.
It’s also hard not to think about the fact that when you grow your own food, you know where it has come from and what kind of pesticides, “if any at all,” have been used to keep you and your family safe.
This is a time when knowing how to grow your own food, vegetables, and fruits can help keep you and your family away from unknown chemicals.
Knowing how to harvest honeydew melon is also a skill you can use for other members of the muskmelon family, such as cantaloupe and watermelon.
Making sure you have the tools you need to know when and how to harvest honeydew melon is the hard part. Once you have that down, you can do more than just grow food for your own family, but also for members of your community, whether that be friends, family, or both.
Wrapping Up When to Harvest Honeydew Melon
Now that you know how to harvest honeydew melons, you might be wondering what’s next.
Here at Survival World, we pride ourselves on providing our customers with the best need-to-know information to help you and those you love to survive in a time of uncertainty.
Want to find ways to make your food last longer? Check out our article, How Long Does Dehydrated Food Last?, or maybe you just want to know how to prepare for a world that feels like it has gone a little bit crazy. We have it all.