Cantaloupe, or rockmelon, is a delightful addition to any breakfast or dessert. Many people are surprised that this beautiful melon can be grown in gardens found in northern states like Maine! However, one of the common challenges first-time cantaloupe growers meet is how to tell when a garden cantaloupe is ripe.

Everyone easily recognizes cantaloupe from a grocery store, with its tell-tale webbed texture on the outside. Curiously, though, when you grow cantaloupe in your home garden, the exterior texture and look of your melon is strikingly different from what you’re used to seeing in the grocery store. This can present a bit of a problem when determining when your cantaloupe is ripe because if you’re relying on it to look like the grocery-store cantaloupe, you’ll be waiting for something that likely won’t occur. Instead, look for these tell-tale signs that your cantaloupe is ripe:

3 Tell-tale signs that your garden cantaloupe is ripe

You can smell it

One way you can be sure a cantaloupe is ready for picking is when you smell the sweet aroma of the melon from the blossom end of the fruit.

Netting begins to appear

Netting is what you’re used to seeing on grocery store cantaloupe. Only, in grocery store cantaloupe, the netting entirely covers the melon. In your garden variety, the netting will probably only appear in patches. When you see netting appear, it is a safe sign to pick the melon.

Easily picked

If the melon is easily picked from the vine with a tiny tug, then it’s safe to harvest the melon. However, be sure it passes the smell test before cutting into it. If you don’t smell the sweet aroma of cantaloupe, simply let it ripen on your kitchen counter for a few days until the aroma manifests.


Cantaloupe is a wonderful way to diversify your crop portfolio and add some sweetness to the experience! Hopefully, this small blog post will help you appreciate the bounty and beauty of a great garden cantaloupe harvest.