This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Facility of cultivation, abundant production, and, above all, a most agreeable flavor, assign to the Cantaloupes the first rank among all the races of Melons. The markets - those of Paris, at least - have nothing superior; and in the establishment of the rich amateur, with the epicure who is proud of assembling in his kitchen garden the best varieties of this delicious fruit, the Cantaloupes always form a species of basis or staple, that which is cultivated on the largest scale; the others, so to speak, are only accessories. From the well-merited predilection of which it is the object, it does not, however, follow, that the Cantaloupe of any variety is a fruit of unexceptionable quality in every respect; it presents, on the contrary, certain deficiencies, for which, it is surprising to know, no remedy has been sought for a long time past. Thus, without speaking of its variable quality - which often requires that several fruit shall be cut in order to find one really good - it must be acknowledged, as a serious fault, that the rind is so thick that it is rare to find the flesh equal to half the weight of the fruit; there is therefore a considerable loss, which ought, if possible, to be avoided.
An agriculturist of the District of Chateau-Renard (Loiret), M. Bailly, turning to account the extreme facility with which the Melons may be artificially fecundated among themselves, has produced, by the aid of the Prescott Cantaloupe and of the Sugar Melon of Tours, a mixed race, which, from its double origin, he has named Sugar Cantaloupe. This variety shows itself exempt from the defects noted in the previous paragraph, and for several years has always reproduced itself with such uniformity that it may now be considered as perfectly fixed. Its exterior characteristics are precisely those of a Cantaloupe. Its form is a spheroid, slightly flattened, with sides somewhat ridged, entirely free from the scales or tubercles found on seve-iral races of Cantaloupes; the rind is quite smooth, of a pale green, passing to straw yellow at maturity; the flesh, of a deep orange, equals in bulk or in weight more than three-quartan of the fruit; it Lb fragrant, melting, very sugary, and extends, without any line of separation, quite to the rind, which never exceeds I centimetre in thickness.
We do not hesitate to declare the Sugar Cantaloupe superior to every other Cantaloupe, and it appears to us impossible that it should not be deservedly appreciated by all those who will give it a trial.
M. Bailly has kindly Bent us a paper on the cultivation of this melon in the open ground, which we reproduce textually. It contains information which it appears to us must be useful to those who are engaged in the cultivation of melons for market, and who operate on a large extent of ground.
"This variety of Melon (Sugar Cantaloupe) is not more difficult to cultivate than the other varieties of Cantaloupe. For early crops, I sow it in pots placed in a hotbed in the month of January or February. I make two pinchings, to determine the position of 4 principal branches. Afterwards I plant them out where they are to remain, on a new hotbed, covered with a frame or bell glass. Each plant should have a space of 1 square metre at least. If these are well managed they will give ripe fruit in the month of June. All pruning should be avoided, but the branches should be so trained as to take a proper direction for entirely covering the soil.
"The cultivation in the open ground is more simple, less costly, and gives a larger yield of fruit of very much better quality. It can be practised in a garden or in the field, provided the soil is of good quality. The ground should be covered with good manure to the depth of 5 or 6 centimetres; this is to be deeply and thoroughly worked in by the spade. Then make, at distances of 1 3-10 to 1 5-10 metres, holes of 30 centimetres square by 15 centimetres deep, which are to be filled with thoroughly rotted manure, and on this are set out the melon plants previously brought forward in a hotbed. The plants are set out from the beginning to the end of May. No pruning of any kind is to be practised, but the 4 or 5 principal branches are to have a suitable direction given them. From the commencement of the heats in June the earth should be covered with a coating of manure, and the plants should be watered abundantly twice a week. The only care required until the maturity of the fruit - which commences in August-is to keep the ground free from weeds, and to water during droughts. Under the influence of the summer heats, the earth becomes entirely covered with the broad leaves, hiding the fruit and sheltering it from the intensity of the sun's rays.
It then grows and ripens in the shade, nourished by the sap, which, circulating through the numerous vegetable organs, does not reach the fruit until after having been properly elaborated. The melons cultivated in this manner acquire a richness and a fragrance not found in those subjected to continued mutilations for the purpose of enlarging and improving the fruit. I consider the frequent cutting of the branches a very injurious operation, and I can not do otherwise than recommend entire abstinence from it Each melon plant, cultivated as I have just pointed out, will ripen 3 or 4 fruit, weighing about 3 kilogrammes a piece. They must be allowed to ripen under the leaves, and must not be exposed to the sun, as this burns them, hastens the maturity too rapidly, and prevents them from acquiring those good qualities which time alone can give. Notwithstanding its origin in a warm climate, the melon does not like too high a temperature, and the fruit is better in France than in Africa. This shows without doubt that the maturity is too rapid in the latter. - Front the Revue Horticole.
Metre=39 1/2 ins., nearly. Centimetre=4-10 in., nearly. Kilograrame=2 1-5 lbs. avoirdupois.