Best Heirloom Melon?

starflakesJune 15, 2008


I live in an area not very kind to the muskmelon clan on the Great Plains and was hoping to have people speak of their experiences with the heirloom melons they grow and under what conditions please.

My best results have been with Collective Farm Woman, Kazakh Charantais and Haogen.

I'm looking for information or seeds on the following please:

Jenny Lind

Sakatas Sweet

Prescott Fond Blanc

Noir des Carmes

Bidwell Casaba



Ananas D'Amerique Achar Verte (Pineapple Melon)


Anne Arundel

Petit Gre Rene

Thai Golden Round


Seeds are getting so expensive now that I would rather hear from actual gardeners their views before purchasing or find some kind soul willing to share a few of their's. I only am getting into melons so do not have those seeds to trade and only have been focusing on tomatoes, cukes etc...

I sincerely would love to hear first hand accounts of the above, but if you have some favorite heirloom of yours please write it's virtues and perhaps you can convince me it is will too be my dream melon.

Thank you and God bless

PS: If you just want to email direct, just use my name here

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I grew Prescott Fond Blanc, Bidwell Casaba, and Petit Gris de Renne last year. It was a very harsh season with very little rain here. Bidwell was slow to become established, and by the time it started to set fruit, frost hit. Petit produced some tasty melons, but I had to fight the ants for them since they either split open on the end or started to rot...I'll have to put the melons on something this year as they ripen. Prescott was a champ, it seemed totally unaffected by the lack of moisture, and contrary to what I've read, it was very productive. The melons are beautiful, fragrant, but lacking in the flavor department. How it can smell better than it tastes is beyond me. The flesh is also denser than the typical melon. One other melon that performed well last year was Amarillo Oro. It produced a lot of "wrinkled yellow footballs." They are nice and sweet. Kind of like a blander honeydew.

I grew Collective Farm Woman, Haogen, and Charantais as well last year. Those along with Prescott and Amarillo were the only ones to produce, so I'm guessing you'd have equal success with them.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 11:05AM
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I'm growing a ton of heirlooms this year, but only one from your list: Ananas.

My favorite last year Was Old Time Tennessee. They were prolific, huge, and really cantelope-y in taste. Very juicy. However, it seemed like you had a 48 hour window to pick and eat them. So if you're going to grow them, only grow a few plants, or have friends on stand by for melons.

This year, I'm growing:

Amarillo Oro
Boule d'Or (Golden Perfection)
Collective Farm Woman
Ginger's Pride
Golden Honeymoon
Jenny Lind
Sweet Passion

And Blacktail, and Moon and Stars Watermelon.

Anyway, will post more once I start getting ripe melons.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 4:53PM
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georgew79(Z5-6 MO.)

Hi, Its hard to tell you just how good they would be, as many melons do not do as well as others, as they need a long warm season with soil that has good drainage with plenty of humis worked in. This year I'm growing a lot of different watermelons mostly rare Korean varieties, but I am growing Ananas and Hale's best jumbo along with three different types of sweet asian melons. I grow all my watermelons and melons in deep raised beds with trellises now and find that they grow faster, better and produce sweeter melons. Ananas is a very tasty sweet melon that is quite aromatic with white flesh and gets to be around 5 pounds, but three is more normal I did get one melon that went nearly 7 pounds, but it didn't have the flavor of the smaller ones. If you go to Baker's Creek Heirloom seeds You might find out a bit more about the melons you are seeking, right now I have all my seeds except a few rare watermelon seeds tied up in my garden for this year. Hale's best Jumbo isn't a heirloom melon just yet, but it is OP and is a very good melon with a nice sweet full flavor that you find in most good cantaloupes. To grow it only takes 82 days to mature compared to 100 days for Ananas. There is one variety of early compact cantaloupe (Minnesota Midget) that takes only 60 to 65 days to mature and has pretty good flavor the melons are small 4" which are just a little larger than a soft ball. It's OP although and not a Heirloom variety. If you want to try something different you should try growing some sweet asian melons they are very sweet with white crunchy flesh and a early maturity date. I wish I could be of more help, but this is the best I can do for you at this time.
George W. Z5-6 MO.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 12:01AM
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Last year I grew Thai Golden Round melon and bannanna melon,early silverline,blacktail moutain among many
Thai golden did the best as far as producing not much flavor thou The best was Blacktail moutain available thru The year before i had alot of cream of sackatawan very good flavor. E mail me at if you find seeds for the Thai golden Round melon as i can't find them this year thanks

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 1:05PM
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I only really started getting into heirloom melons last year. Unfortunately, two of the varieties I grew that did the best are from some seeds I had collected years previous and don't really have a name for...

I did have good success with the Minnesota Midget, and my family seemed to like that one the best. The plants are fairly compact for a melon (about 4ft across) they set a lot of fruit, they slip from the vine quite easily in true muskmelon fashion and the taste is great. Mine were a bit larger than George's, but they are a small melon - about the right size for a snack for one adult. They'll start to get just a hint of orange to them when they're ripe. They are a fairly early melon and they continue to produce throughout the season, though once the cold weather hit I started to get some orange softball size melons out of them that didn't taste good at all - so until the cold weather hits, they're great. I had them in a clay soil with some compost mixed in and a frequent though light irrigation. Soil drainage could have been better, but overall was still pretty good. They did fine through the hot weather and even withstood some competition from the weeds.

The Amarillo Ora is one I really liked, but my wife didn't care for it as the texture was a bit off to her (the texture tends to be a bit on the grainy side). The taste is great though. I had a little bit of a challenge figuring out when the right time to pick them was. The first few I picked the taste was rather bland because I had apparently picked them to early. All of the ones after though were great. Experimenting with these a bit, I'm not sure it's possible to leave them on the vine too long as long as you pick them at least by the time the frost starts to kill the vine. I had some that appeared to ripen early that I left that long and they still tasted just as good as the ones I had picked earlier, so if you're unsure about ripeness, better to go late than early.

I tried Early Frame Prescott and didn't like it. Not only is it a VERY late melon those that did ripen didn't taste good at all (but perhaps that's because it had began to get cold before the first ones ripened). This is not the same melon as the other Prescott mentioned above.

Here's my growlist for the year:

Ali Baba Watermelon
Amarillo Oro
Banana Melon
Black Diamond Yellow Flesh Watermelon
Blacktail Mountain Watermelon
Cantalope (mine)
Charentais Melon
Charleston Grey Watermelon
Congo Watermelon
Crane Melon
Cream of Saskatchewan Watermelon
Desert King Watermelon
Ginger's Pride Melon
Golden Midget Watermelon
Healy's Pride Melon
Honey Dew (mine)
Jenny Lind Melon
Minnesota Midget
Orangeglo Watermelon
Prescott Fond Blanc Melon
Royal Golden Watermelon
Thai Chatchai 185 Watermelon (good results with this last year and it's early. Try it if you can find the seeds)
Tom Watson Watermelon
Valencia Winter Melon
Sweet Siberian
Early Hanover
Noir de Carmes
Petit Gris de Rennes

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 9:59PM
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I planted only two hills of Ali Baba. Was very dry the last month but the flavor and size of the few melons I got was great. Also planted Tom Watson, Black diamond yellow belly strain, Kleckley sweet, Georgia Rattlesnake, Moon and Stars, Valencia winter melin, Cavaillon, Ananas, Petit Gris de Rennes and Charentais. I would definitely plant the Ali Baba again. Need more time to review the others.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 6:14AM
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Good time to update this thread :)

To me, the attributes of a good melon are (in order):

1. Taste (If it doesn't taste good, it's a waste of time)
2. Ease of growing (How easy is it to tell when it's ripe? Does it have a bad habit of splitting? Is it overly vulnerable to weather or disease? etc.)
3. How long does it keep for once ripe?
4. Production/Size
5. How hard do I have to fight the critters and insects for it?

Just to clarify so there's not confusion, when I say something "slips", that means that either it separates on it's own when it's ripe, or if you touch it with your finger and just BARELY nudge it, it separates when ripe.

Here's what I've grown so far that isn't my own creation:

Banana Melon - Large, prolific, oblong melons. They don't slip when ripe, and even though they do change color as they ripen, determining the right time to pick is tricky. The mice absolutely love them so be prepared to share. Taste is only average at best. Sometimes these do split, but not frequently. Late melon.

Charentais Melon - somewhat small melon, decent production, doesn't slip. Somewhat difficult to determine the right time to pick. Taste is better than average, but by no means the best. I've had some mice difficulty with these, but not to bad. These will split.

Crane Melon - medium to large melon shaped rather like your typical balloon. They get an orange hue when ripe and will slip from the vine. Production was pretty decent, though they seem a bit overly sensitive to cold. A cold snap will affect the taste of some of the melons. The melons also tend to go bad if the underside is overly damp. They're orange inside and are quite possibly one of the best if not the best muskmelon I've ever tasted. I'll grow these every year. The mice left them alone for the most part, but the ants love the thing. If you see ants checking it out, it's almost ripe. If there are several of them next to the stem, then it's ready to slip and you don't know it. Once it does slip, the ants will drill in the slip and eat the melon on you if you're not quick. These will ripen throughout the season.

Ginger's Pride - An extra large bigger than football shaped melon that turns orange when ripe. It almost slips, but not quite. They seem to have a really narrow window between green and rotten, so once they're ripe you only have a few days to pick them before it's too late. They have a really good taste. This is a late melon.

Healy's Pride - Large netted melon. This was my first year growing it, and only one reach maturity before the frost hit (but everything got a late start due to weather this year too), but the one I had tasted really good. This doesn't slip either, and it seems to be at least somewhat difficult to tell when they're ripe.

Jenny Lind - This is a melon with a different taste. It will slip, it gets a light orange hue on the outside when it's ripe, but -surprise- it's green on the inside. I like the taste myself and will probably grow it again. The closest I can come to describing it is to say the taste is about half way between an "American Cantaloupe" and a Honey Dew. The melon is small, but the yields are heavy. It's about mid season in terms of ripeness.

Minnesota Midget - small netted melon with a really good "cantaloupe" taste. It's early, yields heavy, slips from the vine, gets a light orange hue when ripe, and is one of the family favorites. The mice like them too.

Prescott Fond Blanc - Looks like a big ugly (warty) pumpkin shaped gourd. They're large, but the eatable portion inside is average (there's a LOT of shell there - and they're heavy because of that shell). The mice went nuts over these. They will sometimes slip when ripe, but not always. The orange hue tells you they're ripe. Taste was average at best. I doubt I'll grow these again. Mid to late season.

Valencia Winter Melon - Mid to large football shaped melon. DARK green when ripe. They don't slip and it's pretty difficult to tell when they're ripe. They last a really long time when they are ripe though and it's a late season melon, so the best approach seems to be to wait until the frost has killed the plant and pick them. I've got a ton chilling in the garage right now that are still good. These in many ways remind me of the Amarillo Ora, except they're not yellow, and the Ora doesn't last near as long. Taste is somewhat similar. I like the taste, but it's hard to describe. More like a Honey Dew than an "American Cantaloupe", but it's still different than a honey dew. Inside is a light green to pale tan? sort of color. Mice didn't touch these. There isn't much smell even when you cut it open. It does have taste though if you get them when they're ripe.

Amarillo Ora - all the same attributes as the Valencia except they're yellow instead of green, and don't last near as long as the Valencia when they're ripe which makes the difficulty of telling when they're ripe very problematic. I didn't manage a single one I was happy with this year, though I did manage several last year. I really like the taste on this when I get it right. My wife has nicknamed it the "Sprite Melon" because when it's ripe it has a hint of Sprite (as in the softdrink - the lemon/lime taste they always advertise) in the taste.

Early Hanover - Medium size melon with wonderful growing attributes - good shell, doesn't crack, slips when ripe, netted, very prolific, early, etc. However... it taste like dirt. Literally. I'm positive I got them ripe. I even tried green and overripe to make sure. It taste like dirt. Why would anyone want to grow these? They may be good for crossing because of their growing attributes, but make sure you breed the taste out. I fed all of mine to the chickens. They liked them.

Noir De Carmes - Small to medium size, typically doesn't slip, turns orange when ripe, has a better than average taste, prolific, one of the earliest I've tried, however - warning - these crack worse than any muskmelon I've seen. It's almost impossible to get a ripe one that isn't cracked if you've got 20 ripe ones, you may have 1 that isn't cracked. They also have a strong odor and the mice love them for it. Due to the cracking alone, they're off my grow list, it just isn't worth it.

Petit Gris de Rennes - didn't get a good sample and need to try again.

Early Frame Prescott - unless you own a greenhouse or live in a place without much winter, don't bother. They'll never get ripe before the frost hits.

Ali Baba - Good size melon in the 30-40 lb range mostly, oblong, good shell, keeps longer than many I've grown, red fleshed, and has a good taste a fair bit better than store bough, but still not as good as I would like. Red fleshed.

Katanya - didn't get a good sample from, need to try again.

Cream of Saskatchewan - medium size, round, thin shell, white fleshed, Not much taste (has some sugar, but not much taste). I don't care for it.

Golden Midget Watermelon - turns yellow, very very small, red fleshed, never found one with a much of a taste. Don't plan to grow again.

Thai Chatchai 185 - This always seems to grow and produce a good melon regardless of conditions. Medium size, red flesh, fairly good taste (better than average, and much better than store bought), but it does have a lot of seeds.

Royal Golden Watermelon - Medium size. Turns yellow/orange when it's getting close to ripe. Red flesh. Can easily be mistaken for a pumpkin when it's ripe. Has a great taste (one of the best tasting red fleshed watermelons I've found so far). Amount of seeds seem reasonable and tolerable. Decent shell. Doesn't seem to produce very heavily, but does okay. I like it.

Sweet Siberian - one of the larger "small" melons. Could potentially be considered an Icebox, but it's oblong in shape. Flesh is somewhere between white, yellow, and a very light orange. There's a hint of an interesting fruity taste, but the taste is so mild you almost can't taste it. Seems to produce fairly heavy. I don't plan to grow it again because of the taste.

Charleston Grey - I find this to be a lot like the Ali Baba, except when it's ripe, you have a fairly small window before it's rotten. It doesn't keep long in the field. Taste also isn't quite as good as the Ali Baba, but it's close. In most other respects, it's very similar to (and inferior to in my opinion) Ali Baba.

Blacktail Mountain - fairly reliable producer, good yield, red flesh, small to medium size, good taste (though I'd still like something better), produces early, has a lot of seeds.

Tendergold - didn't get a good sample. Will have to try again.

Tom Watson - Heavy producer, seems to be both durable and hearty. Red flesh, Good taste, large (around 30 lbs), but always seems to have one flaw that drives me nuts - even when ripe, it tends to have a green heart. All of the flesh not in the center taste great, but there's a core right down through the center which is green - obviously it's not the heart in this one that ripens first.

Orangeglo - A wonderful melon. Large, Early, orange flesh, very good taste, tolerable seed count. The only real flaws I'm aware of is that they will occasionally split in the field, and it's not a heavy producer. I'll probably grow this every year.

Congo Watermelon - Didn't get a good sample. Need to try again.

White Sugar Lump - small, white flesh, almost tasteless, decent production. I probably won't grow these again.

Stone Mountain - Large melon, late, good shell, red flesh, all of them I grew ended up with a very stringy/hollow inside with not much taste (did not look like a watermelon should). I've never seen anything like it and am not sure what to make of it. I don't know if I'll grow it again or not.

So what have you tried? What have you tried and liked? Why did you like it?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 3:37PM
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Sakata Sweet is an asian melon, you have to have a taste for them. I don't.

Jenny Lind is very unpredictable. Grow it for the fun, but grow something else if you want a lot of melons.

Susan Healy is a really good and productive orange flesh cantaloupe.

Yellow Moon & Star is a superb and very productive watermelon.

Ledmon is an outstanding pink/red flesh melon.

Don't expect to ship any of the above, they are all tender and easily damaged.

Sandhill Preservation has a good selection of melon seed.


    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 1:49AM
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Starflakes and GBlack...

How can you grow so many melons in one season and not expect them to cross pollinate ?

Can you tell me what measure you take to keep them from cross pollinating ?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 1:20AM
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I grew watermelons many years ago until my field got diseased. Now I only grow the Sweet Favorite for its disease resistance, but may try others in different soil. I put in a garden for someone, which involved filling a hole 12 feet in diameter with layers of leaves and dirt and planted two runt Sweet Favorite seedlings. I ended up with probably 10 good watermelons from the two plants, where I normally only save one watermelon per plant. The Sweet Favorite is an early watermelon and I let one set on early, and then 3 weeks later, let another one set on.

But getting back to heirlooms, and watermelon growing, I only harvested two watermelons that had a perfume flavor. One was a White Seeded Watson. It also did not have many seeds. The Orangeglo would be my all time favorite. If you pick it up and squeeze the blossom end, mine would split open. I used to hold one and ask somebody if they want me to split the melon open . I would then squeeze the blossom end and it would split open, amazing whomever.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 2:04PM
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girlbug2(z9/10, Sunset zone 24)

mtroyal that's really cool about the Orangeglos! Now I must try growing them.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 9:48AM
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