[NAFEX] Melons anyone?

Bill Russell 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 ----- 
  From: Steve 
  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 
  grow melons.
  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 
  > Woman). 
  > Any tips on melon growing would be most welcome.  Also, what are your 
  > favorite melon varieties?
  > deb
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