QUESTION: I am growing melons — watermelon and cantaloupe – for the first time. How can you tell when the fruit is ready to pick?
Turn the watermelon over. The ground spot (where the watermelon rests on the ground) should be creamy yellow. If the spot is white, the melon is not ready.
On a watermelon, there is a tendril growing at the end of the fruit. If it is still green, give the melon a few more days to ripen. If it is half-dead, it’s likely the melon is ripe or nearly so.
Give it a thump. A ripe watermelon sounds hollow (though some say it’s difficult to really hear this).
Cantaloupes and other small melons don’t have the tendril or a significant soil spot, like watermelons, but there are other clues. Cantaloupes, which have netted rinds, develop a golden color under the netting when the melon is ripe. They also soften at the end opposite the stem when they ripen, which you can feel if you press gently. Ripe cantaloupes also have a sweet fragrance. It will also separate easily from the vine