[NAFEX] Melons anyone?
shaman at pennswoods.net
Sun May 18 14:10:16 EDT 2008
Minnesota Midget cantaloupes can ripen in Maine. Lots of seed catalogs carry them.
----- Original Message -----
To: North American Fruit Explorers
Sent: Sunday, May 18, 2008 2:02 PM
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Melons anyone?
If you are having trouble with melons, I'll assume it's because you live
too far north. So do I. Human nature being what it is, we still want to
Many years ago, I read an article (I'm pretty sure it was in Pomona)
about melon varieties for the north. The best muskmelon, according to
the author, was a variety sold by Harris Seed called Early Dawn. I
believe they have recently dropped that variety from their catalog. Over
several years, I grew one or two other promising varieties along side
Early Dawn but never found one that worked better.
I came up with a method that gave me good melons every year, though
muskmelons always did better than watermelons. Sugar Baby watermelons
did pretty well though. My method was to dig a long trench, usually down
the center of the garden. The trench was only about 18 inches deep and
18 inches wide, maybe less. I would then drive my truck across town
where there were a few horses. They often warned me that it should be
composted before use in the garden but I would explain that I wanted it
for the heat and the fresher the better. I would fill my trench to the
top with the horse manure. Then I would take the soil that came out of
the trench and throw that back on top. I would rake it smooth creating a
rounded ridge with the horse manure hidden inside.
I would then take a sheet of black plastic and cover the whole ridge.
Transplants would be planted through slits in the black plastic right
down the center of the ridge. I would then take gallon milk jugs filled
with water and place one right next to each plant. Last of all, I
covered the whole planting with a floating row cover. Those milk jugs
placed next to each plant not only moderated the temperature a little
but kept the small plants from being crushed by the row cover in a
pounding rain. My favorite was one called VisPore because it was soft,
stretchy and held more heat than others. A quick search of the VisPore
name came up with a different product used as a ground cover to prevent
weeds. There are other floating row covers to choose from if the VisPore
is no longer available. As soon as I could see several flowers on the
melon plants, I would remove the floating row cover to let the bees do
their work. I generally put the floating row cover away for the season
at that point.
This was a lot of work but the difference was like day and night. A soil
thermometer stuck through the black plastic into the top of the ridge
would read in the 90s compared to the 60s in normal soil a few feet
away. In my climate, melons grown like other garden plants would form
only a few small tasteless melons. With the above technique, the plants
would be easily 5 times bigger and we would get dozens of big flavorful
melons. One thing I alway noticed though is that it was like someone
turned off a switch on September 1st. Melons harvested in August were
sweet and good. After September 1st any remaining melons were quickly
loosing sweetness and soon were not worth eating.
Steve - In the Adirondacks of northern NY
Deb S wrote:
> Once again I am going to attempt to grow melons this year. I plan to
> make individual raised beds (I have a lot of black plastic culvert
> sections lying around) for each melon hill. With this method, I can
> pretty much create the soil environment I want (mix in
> compost/sand/potting soil or whatever). I also will cover the top
> with black plastic and start the seeds in jiffy pots in the house.
> I'm hoping MAYBE this will yield me a few melons! I have a watermelon
> variety (Moon and Stars) and a muskmelon variety (Collective Farm
> Any tips on melon growing would be most welcome. Also, what are your
> favorite melon varieties?
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