STARTING SEEDLINGS OUTDOORS: Melons need full sun, rich soil and warm temperatures. Plant only when weather is warm and nights stay above 50°F (10°C). Make slightly rounded hills 2 feet in diameter and 5 feet apart. Sow 5 or 6 seeds 1 inch deep and 4 inches apart in a small circle in top of each hill. When seedlings have several sets of leaves, be sure to thin them out, leaving only the 3 strongest plants to grow and mature in each hill.
TO START EARLY INDOORS: No more than several weeks before last frost date, sow seeds in individual pots of seed starting mix. Keep warm and moist, and provide a strong light source until weather warms enough to transplant outdoors (see above).
GROWING NOTES: Amend soil well with aged manure or compost. If summers are short or cool, put down black plastic to retain heat, then plant into holes made in plastic. Where insects are a problem, cover seedlings with floating row covers to exclude them, removing when plants blossom. Keep young vines well watered and fed, tapering off as fruits ripen up for best sweet flavor.
HARVEST AND USE: Pick melons when the tendril closest to the fruit turns brown, and the light patch on the bottom of the melon changes from cream to tan. Watermelons keep well in the refrigerator, even after being cut open.