growing water melons

I have tried to grow these before and not had alot of luck. I grow maybe 4 hills and get one ripe mellon. I get several others but they are no good. (I dont know if i am picking them wrong or what.) They seem to be orange inside.
What if I pick all of the meelons off as they are growing with the exception of the first one? It always seems as if the first one is always the one taht turns out ok.
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Water melons are harder to grow in northern short season areas than in the south. However, it can be done. I assume you're in the north. In the north it's necessary to start the melons as early as possible, or even earlier. There's very little demand for watermelons that ripen after labor day.
First of all, don't try to grow the large watermelons. They take too long for the north. Find a melon that has a short growing season (maybe 70-80 days). They're generally smaller sizes, but tasty. (By the way, you might try some of the yellow or orange watermelons.)
Pick an area, plow it up as soon as you can, cover it with black plastic to try to warm the soil. About 3 weeks before the average last frost date put some melon seeds into peat pots and start the plants growing. When the plants have 2-3 true leaves, poke a hole in the black plastic and put the peat pot in. Try not to disturb the roots of the melon. Cover the whole thing with clear plastic, held up with wire hoops. Cut a couple of slits in the clear plastic so air can get in. The clear plastic will protect the plant from moderate cold weather. As soon as you plant the peat pots, start another batch in peat pots just in case.
When the vines start to climb through the slits in the clear plastic, remove the clear plastic. It will get really hot under the clear plastic on sunny days (I've measured 120F), but melons like hot weather, so that's good. Make sure the plants have enough water.
There are several ways to determine if a watermelon is ripe, but the best one is to thunk it and listen for the sound. You have to learn what the melon should sound like. A high pitched thunk means the melon is not ripe. A low pitched thunk is better. If the sound is kind of dead (it doesn't ring nicely) the melon flesh inside has started to split and it's probably ready.
Another method is to look at the vine. Where the melon is connected to the vine, there is a leaf and a tendril (the spiral thingy that the melon vine tries to climb with). When the tendril dies, the melon is supposed to be ready. However, I've never found this to be really reliable, particularly with the first melon. When both the leaf and the tendril are dead, the melon is probably ready. The tendril test may work with subsequent melons. Plan on losing a few melons while you calibrate your ears to the thunk.
Don't worry about trying to pick off excess melons. They won't hurt the others. If you have unripe melons at the end of the season, you can use them for jack-o-lanterns.
snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

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dps wrote:

...."start the melons as early as possible, or even earlier"......?
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Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8b
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Yeah. Try doing it in the UK. Ordinary melons are borderline in WARMER parts :-(
Regards, Nick Maclaren.
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There are parts of the UK where melons could be grown, but I suspect that the moderate temperatures make the season longer than the numbers printed on the seed packet would indicate. Try the clear plastic route to heat them up. Remember that the plastic has to have enough holes so that bees or other pollinators can get in there.
DISCLAIMER: I have never tried to grow anything in the UK. The above comments are purely guesswork based on New England (USA) experience.
Nick Maclaren wrote:

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Thanks, but I am afraid that is a common myth. Damn the low temperatures, it is the low light levels and low high temperatures that is the problem. For example, my garden has a growing season of typically 300+ days for extreme northern plants, but perhaps 30 days for heat and sun lovers - yes, really, there may be only 30 hot and sunny days in the 90 days of summer. Autumn and spring are much darker and winter is gloomy beyond most USA inhabitants' belief.
And I live in the south of England :-(

New England is halfway to the Deep South from here - look at an atlas!
The summer heat and light levels correspond to the extreme north west of the contiguous USA and the coastal strip of Alaska, which is why many USA gardeners in those areas look at uk.rec.gardening.
Regards, Nick Maclaren.
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snipped-for-privacy@cus.cam.ac.uk (Nick Maclaren) expounded:

Yep, it surprised me to see how much further north England is.

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What I'm trying to say is that you should push the envelope, or the season. For example I do 3 plantings of tomatoes. If the first planting doesn't freeze, I plant earlier next year. If the second planting freezes I plant later next year.
The third planting generally doesn't freeze until just before harvest.
I probably should revise it to say "...earlier than you think is possible..."
Travis wrote:

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I live in southern Kentucky. It doe sge thot here.
Maybe I am doing something wrong? I have also used black plastic.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

since you are in Kentucky, yes, you should get melons. Here is a list of things that could be wrong for you:
- borers. do the stems appear to rot at some point? - beetles bringing in blight. I usually lose zucchini to either disease, I am sure if they were watermelons I would not get anything out of them (because they are zucchini, I get two months of harvest before they die) - watermelons love sandy soil and lots of water. if you have heavy clay, you should maybe consider something else - your garden is in a low spot and cold air flows there, delaying maturity - your garden is not in full sun - and as you mention, if you want big melons, only keep one per plant
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Yes you need full sun, and plenty of space. Most folk who have watermelon problems have them too crowded. Ther are few insects that bother watermelons once they get established. The striped cucumber beetle will take down.emerging plants. Squash vine borers do not bother them. There are a few foliar diseases that you might encounter. They do need sandy type soil and are difficult to ripen on clay base soil. To much nitrogen or water can be detrimental to ripening. But I will bet you are crowding them. Those hills should be a minimum of 10 feet apart for regular melons and 6-8 ft for icebox melons. Your lastline intrigues me. The only melons I have ever seen that were orange inside were orange flesh melons. Red fleshed melons tend to white streaks or pink white flesh when they fail to ripen.
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FarmerDill wrote:

I grew watermelons in NE Indiana last summer. I got them in the ground as soon as I could and kept them warm with plastic as long as I could in fall.
Mine were definately too closely spaced. I also began growing them at one end of the garden. Don't do that... The water melon vines out from the main plant in at least 4 directions. They like lots of sun and lots of water, so plant them where they can get it.
Determining if watermelons are ripe is a bit of a trick... You can find about 10 methods to use on the Internet... (Trust me, I looked ;0))
Puckdropper
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