Sunday, April 5, 2009

Muskmelons and Balsam

Those are two plants you probably don't hear of that often, Muskmelon and Balsam.

Last Friday I started seeds for both of those plants.

As I understand it, both are heirloom varieties. Your great-grandparents would probably be fairly unimpressed, common as these were way back.

Muskmelon Cantaloupe
is basically what we think of as cantaloupe with that sweet orange flesh and the net-like exterior.

Balsam Plant
(not to be confused with those balsam firs of Balsam & Protein Shampoo fame!) was, I hear, a Victorian favorite. It's the grandfather of the modern impatiens, but unlike impatiens, the flowers grow close to the stem and the leaves come out around them. I've never seen a Balsam in real life, but the combination of Victorian heirloom and the showy and slightly unusual look (not to mention "easy to grow" reputation) was intriguing enough for me to want to try some.

Muskmelon Cantelope: Hale's Best Jumbo (Cucumis melo-Reticulatus Group)

Seed from Botanical Interests. (this is a fun seed company--the drawings are beautiful and they fill their packets with tons of information)

Very thick, sweet salmon-pink flesh with a small seed cavity.

Started indoors April 3, 5.5 weeks out (recommended 4-6)

In zone 6, these need to be started indoors, but they don't transplant well. To ease the eventual transition, I started them (as recommended) in paper pots--mine were made by wraping folded newspaper around a drinking glass as seen here.

85 days to ripe fruit.

Balsam: Camellia Flowered Mix (Impatiens Balsamina)

Seed from Livingston Seed Co.

Pink and Purple double flowers.

Started indoors April 3, 5.5 weeks out (recommended 4-6)

18-30” tall, needs appx. 12” spacing


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