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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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
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
- your garden is not in full sun
- and as you mention, if you want big melons, only keep one per plant
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.
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
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))
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