Growing melons in your backyard is not that difficult, but to make sure that you can harvest perfect fruit it pays to listen to an expert. These fifteen tips come from an article which I found on the Gardening Channel and will teach you the finer points of growing melons. Make sure you don’t miss #14 and the importance of “slip” and why backyard melons are better.
Melons are some of the most popular fruits grown on the vine in the U.S. Many backyard gardens feature melons as a favorite late summer and early fall harvest treat. Interestingly, melons are in the same plant family as pumpkins, cucumbers and squash. Although they won?t cross-pollinate, they are compatible with these familiar plants in terms of soil and water requirements. Here are 15 ways you can increase your yields and melon sizes.
Tip 1: Know your melons and what they want.
There are a lot of melons available out there, but the most common in North America are watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew (in that order). Most watermelons are of the standard sweet variety (or a hybrid of the same) in either giant or standard size (12 lb or less). Most cantaloupes are either Ambrosia or French Orange Charentais. Ambrosia is the common type you?ll see in stores weighing about 4 pounds at around six inches in diameter while French?s are about 1/3 the size and round instead of oblong. The differences between the melon types will determine their growth factor and required nutrients. Generally, the larger the melon, the longer the growing season.
Tip 2: Start your melon seedlings indoors.
Most melons require 65 degree or higher soil temperatures to germinate, but the optimum is 70-90 degrees. So indoor germination of seeds is a must in most of the U.S. You?ll get bigger (earlier) starter plants and they?ll likely be healthier.
Tip 3: Transplant melons when ready, not before.
When you transplant your melons, the outside temperature at night should be averaging 50 degrees or close to it. The plants should have at least two rather large leaves and should be hardened.
Tip 4: Removable row covers are useful for melons.
Using removable row covers allows you to cover the melon plants at night in the early season to keep them warmer. This speeds plant growth.
See more at the Gardening Channel