Rocky Ford Melon
- 20 seeds
- Open pollinated
- Distance between plants – 12-18″
- Distance between rows – 3-4′
- Full sun
- Water every 1-2 days
- Days to maturity – 80 days
- Days to germination – 2-3 weeks
- Spread – 30′
- Cucumis Melo
- Germination rate – 87%
Sow: Indoors 2-3 weeks before last frost or direct seed after last frost 1’’ deep
Harvest : When fruit is ripe and leaves have turned brown
The humble beginnings of the Rocky Ford Cantaloupe began around 1870 when a man by the name of George Washington Swink came to a Rocky Ford Crossing as a pioneer and decided to settle. He chose to build a trading post along the Arkansas River. It was there, at the site of that trading post, where Swink grew his first melons. To accomplish this feat in the dry climate of Southeastern Colorado, Swink used the river to irrigate.
G.W. Swink continued to grow melons and experiment with various techniques at the original site until 1877. This year saw the arrival of the railroad at its present location and forced Swink to move west a few miles, settling in present day Rocky Ford. By 1881, Swink had begun larger gardens and was growing nearly 300 tons of watermelon a year.
Prior to 1886, Swink was growing a type of muskmelon that was bigger than a cantaloupe. 1886 was a crucial year for Rocky Ford, as it was the year that saw the introduction of the Netted Gem Cantaloupe. It is this cantaloupe for which Rocky Ford would become well known.
Around 1890, advertisements were placed in eastern papers that read:
“Come to the Sunny Arkansas Valley of Colorado and regain your health while growing delicious Rocky Ford cantaloupes!” (Source rockyfordmelon.com)