Melon is a name given to various members of the Cucurbitaceae family with fleshy fruit. Melon can refer to either the plant or thefruit, which is a false berry. Many different cultivars have been produced, particularly of muskmelons. The plant grows as a vine. Although the melon is a fruit, some varieties may be considered "culinary vegetables".
The origin of the melon as we know it today is rather shrouded in mystery. Of a surety, they originated in Asia and Africa rather than in the US, and brought to England around the sixteenth century AD. Melons were first introduced to the New World by Columbus during his second expedition. They were part of rations aboard the ships to help prevent scurvy in sailors. Once his men had eaten them and discarded the seeds, the crop quickly took hold in Haiti and spread from there. Seeds were also brought to California by Spanish Conquistadors. Navajos were farming the fruit by the 1800s, from seeds brought from Latin America. However, melons did not gain prominence as a common food until it was brought again during the slave trade.
Its genus and species are both Cucunis. Within these groups, they are also distinguished by their Latin names into two groups, Cucumis (muskmelons), and Citrullus (watermelons.). Aside from these classifications, they are also separated into many varieties. Exactly how many varieties is unknown. The three most common are the watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew. The cantaloupe, also called a muskmelon, belongs to the Cucumis family. It has beige, netted skin and sweet orange flesh that is high in beta carotene.
Melons are a highly nutritious food. It has been touted for centuries that they have numerous medicinal properties. The seeds of cantaloupe were used in China to moderate fevers and the digestive system. Elsewhere, seeds were pulverized and used to treat tuberculosis. Cantaloupes are particularly beneficial to people with heart disease, as they contain large of amounts of an anticoagulant known as adenosine. They also contain high levels of potassium, which benefits those with high blood pressure. Due to their high water content, all melons are considered diuretics.
There is also evidence that suggests that consumption of melons can lower the risk of cancer. USDA researches have discovers that melons contain lycopene, an antioxidant found in a select group of fruits and vegetables. Lycopene treats and prevents cancer by trapping free-radicals in cells.
Member of the gourd and pumpkin family, melons are notoriously “promiscuous,” meaning that they must be kept separate from other melons due to the fact that they readily pollinate each other. They are not particularly hardy, nor are they very frail. They require about four months of warm weather, and like lots of direct sunlight. Unlike some vegetables, indoor germination with plans to transplant outside does not work well. Melons simply will not grow well that way. For best results, seeding them outdoors in early may works very well. Since they are a vine fruit, they require lots of space to spread out; some dwarf or midget varieties can do well in planters, such as large truck tires. No matter how you plant them, melons must be kept warm. If the temperatures drop below fifty regularly, the result will be small, bitter fruit. Two other requirements are fertile soil and lots of water. Good dirt is imperative to grow melons. These fruits also require copious amounts of water. However, as fruits grow nearer to harvest, it is recommended to cease watering for one week prior to picking. This will allow the sugars to develop.
excerpts curtesy wikipedia.
Home grown Melons are dripping with sweetness.
Believe it or not:
The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star.
(Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.)