Gardening: Growing Melon
(Honeydew or Other!)
How to Grow Melon in Your Garden
*** Easy to Grow ***
Melon is enjoyed best as a fresh, sweet summer fruit. Even the Romans enjoyed growing melon! (Cantaloupe and Honeydew are the most popular varieties, but there are so many available to select from!)
Note: Growing melon requires long, hot summers.
Melons are a good source of dietary fiber, Niacin, Vitamin B6, A, C, Folate and Potassium.
For growing melon, choose a sunny spot with good air circulation, and leave the recommended space between plants.
You can grow melons as container plants, but select a compact variety. Use a large container that's at least 2 feed deep and that allows drainage. Growing melon in containers has the same soil requirements as in the garden (pH of 6 to 7, and plenty of compost).
When growing melon, water frequently from beneath the leaves and feed twice a month with a liquid fertilizer (like manure tea).
You'll have your best luck growing melon if you add plenty of compost or well-rotted manure to your soil. (You may want to consider raised beds if your climate is damp or the soil is heavy.)
Test the pH of your soil. The pH should be from 6.0 to 7.0.
Make mounds of dirt approx 3 feet in diameter. Melons need space; allow 4 to 5 feet between mounds.
Many gardeners have good success in growing melon by covering the mounds with black plastic (be sure to stake it securely to the ground). The black plastic helps retain moisture for the plant's roots, keeps weeds out, and also helps to warm the roots. (Just make sure the plastic doesn't shift to cover up your seedlings.)
If you don't use black plastic, be sure to mulch well with straw (leaving uncovered spaces for the seedlings to immerge.)
Plant seeds in the garden after spring's last frost and once the soil temperature is at least 70 degrees. (Melon seeds won't germinate well lower temperatures.)
Plant the seeds in a circle around each mound, setting the seed about 1" deep and covering with soil. After the seedlings immerge, thin to 3 healthy plants per mound.
You can start earlier by growing melon seeds inside 1 month ahead of when you want to transplant them outside. Wait until after the last frost before planting them outside. Harden off your seedlings by gradually introducing them out-of-doors. Introducing them too quickly to the bright sun will damage the seedlings.
When planting the seedlings, cut a slit in the plastic sheet (if using plastic). Dig a hole in the dirt where the plastic was, and plant your seedling (I like to plant them nearly up to their first set of leaves). Water thoroughly.
Slide a flat stone under each melon, once it's about half grown.
This can help keep it from rotting prematurely.
When growing melon, keep in mind that this fruit does not respond well to drought. Water frequently, but water under the leaves (not over top). Once it starts producing fruit, you can cut back a little on watering.
How to Grow Melon: Fertilizing
Fertilize every few weeks with a liquid fertilizer such as compost tea.
Melons are susceptible to several plant diseases. Try growing melon varieties that are promoted as "resistant" to Fusarium and Powdery Mildew.
Most diseases can be prevented by rotating your crop from year to year, and by keeping your soil enriched with well-rotted organic matter and compost.
Melons will not ripen once picked. Wait until fully ripe before harvesting.
Harvest when the skin turns white (honeydew) or golden (cantaloupe) and when the melon slips easily from the stem). Plan to pick melon in the morning on a dry day. Be careful to not damage the vines, so not to hinder new growth.
Store melons in a cool, humid location away from direct sunlight. (Note: these will not generally store well for more than a few weeks)
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Note: the advice and information contained herein is based upon our experience and study. As with any advice, please apply at your own discretion.