Nara Melon Plants: Information About Growing Nara Melons
There is a plant that grows in the coastal region of the Namib Desert in Namibia. It is of great importance not only to the bush people of that region but is also ecologically key to maintaining the unique desert habitat. Nara melon plants grow wild in this region and are an essential food source to the indigenous Topnaar people. So what is a nara melon and what other nara bush information would be helpful when growing nara melons?
What is a Nara Melon?
Nara melon plants (Acanthosicyos horridus) are not classified as desert plants despite their growing location. Naras rely on underground water, and as such, bear deep water seeking roots. A member of the cucumber family, nara melons are an ancient species with fossil evidence dating back 40 million years. It was most likely responsible for the survival of Stone Age tribes into modern times.
The plant is leafless, an adaption no doubt evolved to protect the plant from losing water through leaf evaporation. Densely tangled, the shrub has sharp spines growing on grooved stems wherein stomata occur. All parts of the plant are photosynthetic and green, including the flowers.
Male and female flowers are produced on separate plants. The female blossoms are easy to recognize by the warty, swollen ovary that develops into a fruit. The fruit at first is green, then once the size of a baby’s head, turns orange-yellow with many cream colored seeds lodged in the pulp. The fruit is high in protein and iron.
Additional Nara Bush Information
The Topnaar people of this region of Namib Desert refer to the melon as !nara, with the “!” denoting a click of the tongue in their language, Nama. Nara is such a valuable source of food for these people (who eat both the nuts, which taste like almonds, and the fruit). The seeds contain about 57 percent oil and 31 percent protein. Fresh fruit may be eaten, but contains cucurbitacins. In immature fruit, high enough amounts can burn the mouth. Ripe fruit does not have that effect.
The fruit is sometimes eaten raw, especially during drought, but is more often cooked down. The fruit is peeled with the peels fed to the livestock. The nara is boiled for several hours to allow the seeds to separate from the pulp. Then the seeds are taken from the pulp and dried in the sun for later use. The pulp is poured on sand or on bags and left to dry in the sun for several days into a dry flat cake. These cakes, like our fruit leather, can be stored for years as a vital food source.
Because growing nara melons are characteristic of this particular area of the desert, it fulfills an important ecological niche. The plants grow only within reach of subterranean water and form high dunes by trapping sand, stabilizing the unique topography of the Namib.
Nara also shelter many different types of insects and reptiles, like the dune dwelling lizard. Also, wildlife such as giraffes, Oryx, rhinos, jackals, hyenas, gerbils and beetles all want a piece of the nara bush melon.
Native people use the nara melon medicinally to treat stomach pain, facilitate healing and to moisturize and protect skin from the sun too.
How to Grow Nara Melon
The question of how to grow nara melon is a tricky one. Ideally, this plant has a niche habitat that cannot be replicated. However, it can be used in a xeriscape where conditions mimic its natural environment.
Hardy to USDA zone 11, the plant needs full sun. Nara can be propagated through seed or cuttings. Space the plants 36-48 inches apart and give them plenty of room to grow in the garden, as the vines can grow up to 30 feet wide in some cases. Again, nara melon may not be suitable for the average gardener, but those residing in an appropriate region with adequate space for this plant can give it a try.
Nara will bloom mid to late summer and the blossoms are attractive to butterflies, bees and bird pollinators.
Nara Bush Information - How To Grow A Nara Melon - garden
Harvesting and selling of the !Nara melon has been a traditional norm carried on by many generations of the Topnaar community living along the Kuiseb River in the Erongo region.
The !Nara melon has been sustaining many families among the Topnaars, of whom many survive by selling !Naras and small-scale farming.
New Era this week visited the area and caught up with locals, who were busy extracting what they referred to as 'Topnaar gold'.
The product is later sold in Walvis Bay and
surrounding areas. One of the local men, Johannes Uirab, who has been living at the settlement since birth, said the process can take about six hours, while drying can take an additional day before the product is ready for the market.
"!Naras are loved not only in Namibia but all over the world," said Uirab, while stirring the 100-litre drum he cooks the plant in. According to him, they first take an entire day to harvest the !Naras.
"They are usually ripe from November until February. Once we bring them home, we cut them open and remove all the content in a bucket before it is gradually added to the drum to cook," he explained.
Anna Beukes added they make various products from the !Nara melon. "Some of the melons are nicely ripe that we make can make !Nara milk from its juice. This can be used as juice and can also be used as a basis to make pap with flour," Beukes said.
She added the pastes are also separated from the seeds and can be eaten once dry. "That, we refer to as Nama chocolate, which is a highly nutritious food source full of vitamins and minerals," she said.
According to Beukes, the selling of !Naras has been just one of the ways her people sustain themselves throughout the years, especially with the growing number of unemployed youth and the severe drought.
Another member of the Topnaar community Butros Beukes says they can until June sustain themselves with the !Nara they have just processed. He said, on a good day, they can make about N$2 800 from a five litre bucket.
"This is better than being unemployed, especially now that we are facing Covid-19," he said.
According to him, they had a woman from Swakopmund who would pay them much better, as she uses the melon to make various products by extracting its oil. "However she hasn't come back to buy due to Covid-19," he said.
Captured German Records and the Berlin Document Center
What is the Berlin Document Center?
The records of the Berlin Document Center consist of personnel and related records of the Nazi party (NSDAP) and its affiliated organizations and activities from the founding of the Party in 1920 until 1945.
NARA holds more than 70,000 rolls of microfilm reproducing captured German and related records. Reference copies of the microfilm may be viewed free of charge in the Microfilm Research Room, National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001.
Self-service copies from microfilm can also be made in the research room.
How do I get the records for someone who was in the SS or a member of the Nazi party?
This information can be located in the captured German and related records.
This beautiful little melon is one of the first to mature each season. With only 65 days to maturity, this Charentais-type averages just 5 inches in diameter. Its smooth skin ripens to a yellowish tan and is accentuated with dark green, shallow ribbing. The salmon-orange flesh is sweet as can be.
Production on Alvaro is an added bonus each plant sets about a half-dozen fruits. Charentais melons do not slip from the vine when ripe instead, look for yellowing skin and small cracks on the blossom end of the fruits. You can also smell when Alvaro is ready to be cut from the vine the ripe, delectable fragrance is unforgettable.
How To Cultivate Watermelon Plants
Watermelon is a space hog vines can reach 20 feet in length. So plant where there is plenty of open ground. Amend soil with organic matter such as compost or composted cow manure. Add a balanced fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. Sow 8 to 10 watermelon seeds in a hill, and push seeds 1 inch into the soil. Space hills 3 to 4 feet apart, with at least 8 feet between rows. Thin plants to the 3 best in each hill. Keep soil free of weeds by shallow hoeing or with a layer of mulch.
Watermelon plants have moderately deep roots and watering is seldom necessary unless the weather turns dry for a prolonged period. When vines begin to ramble, side dress plants with half a cup of balanced fertilizer (5-10-5). A third application of fertilizer should be made when melons are set. Withhold water as melons start to mature to intensify sweetness.
25 Varieties of Melons (with Pictures)
Melon is a delicious fruit packed with nutrition. The term “melon” diversed in many different plants belong to the family Cucurbitaceae. Containing niacin, vitamin A, B6, C, potassium and their high water content, make it an excellence diuretic. Many species of melons are found, but they belong to four genera: Momordica, Benincasa, Citrulus, and Cucumis. Melons are usually fresh consumed, or used in juice, desserts, fruit salads, or custards. Melons are also comes in varieties. Here are the lists of melon varieties:
Types of melon – Watermelon. Image : jabbajuice.com
It’s a vine-like, flowering plant. It has a thick green skin along with a yellow, red, or orange fleshy center. Watermelon has rich in water content. They can grow into maximum around 90 kg. It is one of the most popular types of melons.
2. Cantaloupe Melon
Types of melon – Cantaloupe Melon. Image : farmerfoodshare.org
Cantaloupe is the most famous melon, especially in the US. Cantaloupe usually served as a fruit salad, a dessert with ice cream or custard. Its size ranges from 500 g to 5 kg.
3. Horned Melon
Types of melon – Horned Melon. Image : Wikipedia.org
This melon has unique horned skin. The taste is tart-like, a combination between and zucchini and cucumber. It has lime-green flesh and yellow-orange skin.
4. Crenshaw Melon
Types of melon – Crenshaw Melon
Curcumismelo is their Latin family’s name. It’s a hybrid type of melon with a sweet, juicy orange flesh. It’s ovoid in shape and greenish-yellow skin. This variety is very popular.
Types of melon – Honeydew Melon. Image : Wikipedia.org
It has sweet and juicy taste. Honeydew is popular well known fruit as a dessert ingredient. Its color is pale green and has a very smooth skin. The shape is round, sometimes oval, weighing from 1.5-4 kg.
Types of melon – Gac Melon. Image : Wikipedia
This is the Southeast Asian primary fruit. Unfortunately, Gac has limited stock due to their short harvest season. Gac’s seeds are rich in flavor and usually cooked with rice in Vietnam. Gac also has high nutrients that are famous beyond Asia.
7. Bitter Melon
Types of melon – Bitter Melon. Image : expatliving.sg
It’s called ”pare” in Indonesia. It is originated in Indian subcontinent. Bitter melon is vine grown in Carribbean, Africa and Asia. It has a very bitter taste, usually eaten as vegetable.
8. Winter Melon
Types of melon – Winter Melon
This variety didn’t grow in Arctic continent. It originated in Southeast Asia. It has very large fruits. They can grow up to 85 cm long. Winter melon is cultivated in South and East part of Asia nowadays.
9. Sprite Melon
Types of melon – Sprite Melon. Image : Wikipedia
Japan is the birthplace of this variety. It contains seeds and has a round shape. Sprite melon is 25-35% sweeter than the other melons. It has ivory skin and color. Sprite Melon develops brown markings when ripe.
10. Korean Melon
Types of melon – Korean Melon
It grows 10cm long and less than one kilogram. Korean melon is smaller than the other melons. It has white color flesh and unique flavor. The outer skin is yellow and white stripes along its length. It can be eaten at once.
11. Canary Melon
Types of melon – Canary Melon
The skin is as bright as a canary bird. It is a huge and bright yellow melon. It has elongated shape with pale green or white flesh. The taste is prominently sweet. It’s a popular fruit for a snack or dessert.
12. Charentais Melon
Types of melon – Charentais Melon
This is fragrant type of cantaloupe. It was grown in France in 1920. Now it’s produced in North Africa on a large scale. Charentais Melon has also being produced in the US, although it’s limited.
13. Bailan Melon
Types of melon – Bailan Melon
It’s grown near Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu province. Bailan melon is very popular in China. It has similiarities in appearance with honeydew.
14. Hami Melon
Types of melon – Hami Melon
Hami melon originated from Hami, Xinjiang. It has a crisp and very sweet flesh. The skin is white but usually yellow or greenish as well.
15. Santa Claus Melon
Types of melon – Santa Claus Melon
It has a thick and green-striped outer rind. It’s usually eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The taste is as sweet as cantaloupe. Ho, ho, ho, this variety is definitely suitable for your Christmas dinner.
16. Sky Rocket
Types of melon – Sky Rocket Melon
The weight of this variety can go up to 3 kg. The shape of this melon is round, and the skin color is webbed green and yellow. The flesh of sky rocket melon is really sweet and fresh. The texture of this variety is chewy. Sky rocket melon need 65 days to be harvested.
17. Golden Langkawi Melon
Types of melon – Golden Langkawi melon
Golden Langkawi Melon is a superior melon variety. This delicious fruit is originated from Langkawi, Malaysia. The characteristics of Golden Langkawi Melon are from their golden skin, smoother skin surfaces unlike the other melon variety that have webbed skin. The shape of golden Langkawi melon is a little bit elliptical. The flesh texture of Golden Langkawi Melon is crunchier, high in sugar rate and rich in water content. This melon variety can weigh up to 3 kg. Another useful thing from this melon variety is, their short period of harvest time. Golden Langkawi Melon can also be planted in many plantation media such as pollybag and plastic pot so this melon variety can save up the space on your field.
Types of melon – Apollo Melon
Another delicious variety of melon is named Apollo. Apollo is a little bit similar with Golden Langkawi Melon but the difference can be distinguished from the skin surface. The skin on Apollo melon has webbed sketch and brighter color. The taste of this melon variety is also sweet, fresh, and fibreless texture. The water content inside Apollo melon is abundant. Therefore, this melon variety is also the most popular melon variety.
19. Honey Globe
Types of melon – Honey Globe Melon
This one is also categorized into superior quality melon. The characteristic of Honey Globe melon is round, the skin color is green, and webbed skin surface. Honey Globe Melon can weigh up to 4 kg. The flesh is thick, watery, and the taste is sweet due to the 17%-19% of natural sugar amount. The texture of this melon flesh is tender and chewable. Another advantage from this melon is their short period of plantation. The stem of Honey Globe melon is also strong enough to carry its fruit. However, this kind of melon needs a special treatment and preparation in order to get desired result.
20. Autumn Sweet
Types of melon – Autumn Sweet Melon
Another delicious melon variety is Autumn Sweet. Autumn Sweet melon is fully round in shape weigh up to 1,3 kg. The skin surfaces of Autumn Sweet melon is golden yellow and the flesh is white. The taste of this melon variety is sweet and the texture is watery yet tender.
21. Sky Rocket
Types of melon – Sky Rocket Melon
This one is another popular variety of melon. The shape of Select Rocket melon is slightly similar with Sky Rocket. The seed of Select Rocket Melon is actually comes from Sky Rocket melon which is repackaged in New Zealand. Select Rocket melon is usually planted if Sky Rocket is unavailable at the markets. Although they are similar, some of the melon farmer said that Sky Rocket melon much more favorite rather than select rocket melon.
22. Jade Dew
Types of melon – Jade Dew Melon
Alright, here is another variety of delicious melon named Jade Dew. Jade Dew melon has round in shape and weighs up to 2 kg. The skin surface of Jade Dew is semi-webbed and the color is greenish white. The flesh of Jade Dew melon is milky yellow in color and the taste is sweet and the texture is crunchy. Another useful aspect from Jade Dew melon is, this melon variety is resistance to various viruses and plant diseases. Jade Dew melon usually planted on highland.
23. Golden Prize
Types of melon – Golden Prize Melon
The shape of Golden Prize Melon is slightly elliptical. The skin surface of this melon variety is rough and it has yellow in color. The flesh of Golden Prize melon is fresh orange and the taste is sweet. The texture of Golden Prize melon is crunchy and succulent. The skin of Golden Prize melon is relatively thick and due to the skin thickness, this melon variety can be kept in some period of time. Therefore, Golden Prize melon is the favorite fruit especially for the exporter.
24. Ten Me
Types of melon – Ten Me Melon
This variety of melon is known as the most expensive and the highest quality among all of the melons. The weight of Ten Me melon can go up to 4 kg. The skin surface is white and yellow and smooth webbed skin. The flesh is thick, tender, fragrant and the taste is super duper sweet.
25. New Century
Types of melon – New Century Melon
New Century melon shape is elliptical. The skin is yellow with thin web on it. The flesh is thick, orange colored, the taste is really sweet and the texture is crunchy. New Century melon is originated from Taiwan. This variety of melon is also resistance to viruses and plant diseases. The average weigh of this fruit is 1.5 kg and the maximum weight of this melon can go up to 4 kg. New Century melon is abundantly planted to sell on the modern markets or grand hotels.
How to Grow Cantaloupe in Containers
Like its cousin the cucumber, cantaloupe can be trained to grow vertically, reducing its usual sprawl and making it a suitable container plant. And growing cantaloupe in containers allows you to extend the growing season by planting earlier in the spring and bringing the young plants inside on exceptionally cold nights.
If moving pots around every day doesn’t sound like fun, you can also grow the cantaloupe in a bright window or sunroom until the weather is warm enough to move it outside full time.
Planting cantaloupe in containers
Growing cantaloupe in containers requires choosing the right type of cantaloupe — a dwarf variety usually works best — selecting a container of appropriate size, preparing a quality planting mix, and training the vines up a support structure of some kind. You can purchase seedlings from a local nursery or start your cantaloupe from seed either directly in the container or in trays.
Choose the right type of cantaloupe
Although full-size cantaloupes can be grown in containers, dwarf varieties have shorter vines and smaller melons better suited to small spaces and vertical growing. Here are a few recommended varieties:
- Sugar cube – This sweet, flavorful hybrid produces melons weighing about two pounds and has excellent disease resistance.
- Minnesota midget – An extra-early heirloom, this variety grows vines less than three feet long with an abundance of tiny, meaty melons.
- Tuscanito – This Italian hybrid produces two-pound melons with firm, sweet flesh that store well, lasting up to two weeks uncut in the refrigerator.
- Charentais – Often considered the most flavorful melon, this French heirloom produces smooth, round, grayish melons that reach about two pounds.
- Tasty bites – Growing up to two and a half pounds, these round or oval hybrid melons have a rich, sweet flavor and long shelf life.
Best containers for growing cantaloupe
For dwarf cantaloupe varieties, choose a container at least 16 inches deep and 14 inches wide, or five gallons in volume. A clean utility bucket with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage works well in a pinch, or purchase a half-barrel planter for multiple plants or a full-size variety.
Sturdy plastic, wood, terra-cotta, and even breathable fabric (grow bags or feed bags) are all great options for cantaloupe containers.
Make sure whatever container you choose has adequate drainage, and if you plan on moving the plant inside at all, it should also be easy to move and have a saucer to keep your floor dry. A lightweight pot in the smallest size necessary will facilitate this, or place the container on a dolly.
Planting mix for cantaloupe in containers
Cantaloupe will grow best in quality potting soil that drains well and contains plenty of organic matter and either perlite or vermiculite. To make your own planting mix, combine clean topsoil and compost or well-rotted manure. Adding perlite or vermiculite will help the soil retain moisture, as will a thin layer of mulch on top.
If desired, you can add an all-purpose, slow-release fertilizer to the container at the time of planting to give the seeds or transplants an extra boost, or you can wait until the seedlings are six inches tall and apply a 5-5-5 liquid fertilizer.
I always recommend organic fertilizer, especially when dealing with fruits and veggies.
How to grow cantaloupe vertically
Growing cantaloupe in a small space, whether in a garden or a container, requires a vertical support structure of some kind. The specific type doesn’t matter much, as long as it’s sturdy enough to hold the weight of several melons and matches or exceeds the mature length of the vines. Some options include:
- a tomato cage
- bamboo U-hoop
- container trellis
- even a few stakes strung with twine
To avoid damaging the roots, place the support structure in the container when you plant the cantaloupe. When the vines grow long enough to begin training up the trellis, gently wind them around the structure and tie them loosely in place with plant ties or twine. The vines should then figure out how to climb the structure on their own, but if you notice a vine heading off in the wrong direction, gently redirect and secure it to the support.
The fruit of dwarf varieties likely won’t need any additional support, but full-sized cantaloupes will put too much strain on the vines or even fall off prematurely when grown vertically. Use melon nets , old nylon stockings, or mesh produce bags to create slings for the fruits.
When the melons get about fist size, place a mesh bag or stocking around each one and secure it to the support structure, making sure the sling of choice will both support the developing fruit and expand sufficiently as it grows.
Caring for container cantaloupes
Place your container cantaloupes in a location that receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight each day, if possible. Cantaloupe plants will tolerate part shade, though they may not produce quite as well.
If starting from seed, keep the soil consistently moist until sprouts emerge, then water deeply whenever the soil feels dry. About a week before harvest, cut back on watering to allow the sugars to concentrate and to prevent cracking. Water only when the top two inches of soil feel dry and the leaves just begin to wilt. As with most garden plants, always make sure to direct water at the base of the plant to avoid wetting the leaves and thus inviting disease.
If you apply liquid fertilizer to the seedlings when they reach six inches tall (see “Planting mix” above), also add a lower nitrogen fertilizer, such as 5-10-10, when the flowers start to develop. Too much nitrogen will encourage extra leaf growth rather than fruit development.
Harvesting your container cantaloupes
Your melons will show several signs to indicate when it’s time to harvest them. The rind will turn from green to yellow and the white “netting” become a creamy golden color. Additionally, the stem will begin to separate from the cantaloupe so that a gentle tug will release it. If you’re still not sure, get a little closer and take a sniff: the melon should smell sweet, especially at the base of the stem.
Personally, I think cantaloupes taste best fresh off the vine and scooped right out of the half-shell with a spoon. But if you have several melons ripen at once or want to make them last a bit longer, store them unwashed and uncut in the fridge for up to three to five days. Some varieties, such as Tuscanito and tasty bites, will store for up to two weeks.
Disadvantages of growing cantaloupe in containers
Are there actually any downsides to having sweet, juicy melons right outside your door? Not really. You do have to put forth a little extra effort to provide support for the vines and maybe the melons, which also means a bit more expense if you don’t already have something suitable on hand. But growing cantaloupe vertically is an advantage in itself, as keeping the vines off the ground means they receive better airflow and thus are less prone to disease.
If you enjoy the juicy sweetness of a properly ripened cantaloupe, this might be the perfect addition to your container garden. As with a garden-fresh tomato, there’s really no comparison between a store-bought cantaloupe and one fresh off the vine. With a large container, good soil, and a small trellis, you can enjoy sweet cantaloupe grown right on your patio or deck.