With intoxicating aroma and flavour, the Ogen Melon has a long history of devoted connoisseurs.
Also known as Ha'Ogen, it is named for the kibbutz in Israel where it was popularised over 50 years ago. This wonderful melon has an incredible fruity, almost tropical flavour. Superb, aromatic and sweet.
Ogen is an open pollinated, small fruited variety that is well adapted to cooler climates, the plant delivers high yields of small, broad, oval fruits, growing to around 15cm (6in) in diameter and weighing around 1.5 to 2.5 kilos (3 to 5lb). With thin rind and thick pale green flesh that is pink around the seed cavity, it is an extremely juicy melon and is gently sweetened.
The plants can easily be grown on a trellis. Each plant produces around 10 softball-sized fruits. The thin rind starts out dark green and turns golden as it ripens, with dark green furrows running from pole to pole. Matures 80 to 85 days from seed.
All over the world seeds from old varieties are planted to keep these summer jewels alive. Wonderfully textured, fragrant and well worth giving valuable planting space to, Ha’ogen takes the best melon honours every time. The mini-melon-sized fruits have an indescribable warmth, richness and aromatic sweetness of flavour, captivating and 'moreish'
It is not without reason that Melon Ogen has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit.
In general, melons are lovers of warmth, which makes them short season crops for the U.K., whereas in warm countries they are grown in succession for export to temperate zones. They typically grow best under glass, but can be grown outdoors in warmer regions. They can be grown in grow bags in a glasshouse or in a poly tunnel. They can be outdoors in well prepared ground with lots of organic matter in the soil. (Composted grass clippings and straw are ideal.). Plants can be trained vertically or, if space is not a problem, can be left to sprawl along the ground.
Melons prefer is diffuse light rather than bright light. The soil should be rich and well drained, and like the atmosphere around them, kept continually moist.
They need higher temperatures than tomatoes and high humidity but will grow well with cucumbers which require similar conditions. Contrary to popular belief, you can grow melons alongside cucumbers; they are similar, but will not cross-pollinate each other
Sowing: Sow from March to the end of May
Melon seeds are sown from late winter to spring in hotter countries, but in our temperate zone sow indoors from March to the end of May. Sow 1cm (½in) deep directly into 8 to 10cm (3 to 4in) pots using standard free draining potting compost. Keep moist at all time. Seeds will germinate at temperatures above 21°C (68°F). Germination usually takes 6 to 10 days at 24°C (75°F).
Transplant when large enough to handle into 13cm (5in) pots. Grow on in good light at around 15 to 18°C (59 to 64) before planting 75 to 100cm (30 to 39in) apart when all risk of frost has passed. Planting into an unheated glasshouse or polytunnel must not take place until the compost or soil is sufficiently warm (18°C / 64°F ) and the air temperature likewise. Set the plants out firmly but do not compact the soil.
The planting area must be adjacent to suitable support if the melons are to be trained in conventional fashion. When planting, you may wish to inserting a 7cm (3in) pipe into the soil so you can water directly to the roots with a watering can.
Top dress with good compost when white roots are seen. If the basal leaves begin to yellow feed with a liquid tomato fertiliser. Feed weekly once the fruits begin to form.
Melons can be trained up a simple single line of string tied to the supports in the glasshouse roof and secured in the ground with a peg next to the base of the melon or use a fan trellis which is simple and reusable next season.
As the melon starts to grow, tie the strongest shoot to the support and pinch out the side shoots which grow from the main stem. As the plants grow pinch out each stem a couple of leaves beyond the female flowers.
Once the stem has reached the top of the support pinch out the leading shoot. This will make the plant concentrate on the formation of fruits. Sprawling plants are simply left to develop and restricted to avoid growth congestion as required.
Watering holds the key to successful melon growing. Regular watering is essential, try to keep the compost constantly moist but not wet. You need to water so that the plant never gets wet, avoid sogginess around the plant stem as this can cause stem rot. Over watering can cause the fruit to split. Possibly the best way to water is with a drip irrigation system.
Glasshouse conditions in high summer need to be kept humid on the hottest days by watering the path early in the morning or by standing a bucket of water in the glasshouse.
Melons need sufficient moisture while growing and fruiting, but prior to harvest, the best, sweetest flavour will occur if the plant is grown on the "dry" side. Cut back on watering the plant when you approach harvest, about three weeks prior to the main crop harvest.
Once the flowers have formed, you will need to pollinate the flowers. This is best carried out mid day when the humidity is high. Females have a swollen part at the base of the bloom. Either remove a male flower and place it inside a female bloom, or take a small paintbrush and lightly brush each flower in turn to. After 2 or 3 days remove the male flowers from the plants.
As soon as the fruits reach the size of tennis balls you need to use string nets or other means to support them. For sprawling plants, a layer of straw should be put down to prevent fruit damage. As the summer progresses and the fruits reach full size remove a few leaves to allow the fruit to ripen.
Harvest: July to August. 80 to 85 days from seed.
The skin of a ripe Ogen melon will ripen from green to gold and will give off a good melon fragrance from the stem end. Check the melon is a good size and weight for its size, and if you\'re really lucky, the melon will easily come off the stem, another sign that it\'s ripe and ready for eating.
Melons will ripen when taken off the plant (provided they are mature enough when picked), and can be ripened in a fruit bowl with bananas.
Melon is from Medieval Latin melonem, from Latin melopeponem meaning “a type of pumpkin”.
Also known as Ha'Ogen, Hogen or Haogen meaning "The Anchor", it is named for the kibbutz in Israel where it was popularised over 50 years ago.
Its initial origin of the Ogen melon is disputed. Some say it is from Israel, others contend that the melons were not actually developed there; they were grown from seed brought from Israel to Hungary or derived from a Southwest Indian melon. In Hungary, this type of melon is called a sarga dinnye.
Whatever its true origin, you will certainly agree that Ogen is one of the sweetest, most aromatic melons you will ever taste.
The kibbutz's own published timeline of important events does not mention Ha'Ogen melons until 1956.
"1956 - Summer – The first batch of Ha'Ogen’s Honey Melons (400 kg) is shipped abroad."
This fascinating website, showing important timelines from its foundation in April 1939, also includes pictures of the development of the Kibbutz. It is well worth a visit -
- Additional Information
Average Seed Count 10 Seeds Common Name Desert Melon, aka Ha'Ogen
Heritage (Israel 1950's)
Other Common Names Muskmelon. Also known as 'Israel Melon'. Family Cucurbitaceae Genus Cucumis Species melo Cultivar Ogen Synonym Hogen or Haogen Hardiness Annual Spacing 75 to 100cm (30 to 39in) apart Position Full Sun Soil Well-drained/light, Moist Time to Sow March to the end of May Germination 6 to 10 days at 24°C (75°F). Harvest 80 to 85 days from seed. Time to Harvest July to August.