[NAFEX] Unsweet melons silicon

Donna &/or Kieran holycow at cookeville.com
Thu May 22 12:21:31 EDT 2008

I find this all very interesting.  Since watermelons are basically a bag of 
water, and silica strengthens cell walls, you can see that having plenty of 
silica available is going to give stronger cell walls.  I personally think 
that the lack of silica in our clay soil is why we have gotten mushy melons 
the few times we've succeeded in getting a melon or two.  It might be 
worthwhile to go through stacks of old SSE yearbooks looking for anyone 
saying that they have or had a watermelon recommended for clay soils.   What 
if watermelon roots are simply designed for the loose, well aerated sandy 
soils they prefer?  If their roots don't work right in clay, or can't 
penetrate it properly, the part of the plant we can see isn't going to 
perform properly.  In that case, loosening clay with organic matter may do 
more good than adding sand.  And raised beds, though I don't like them 
myself, they may help with melons.
    It's hard for me to imagine that the silica in sand is the complete 
reason for melon flavor, or the lack of it when they are grown in clay.  As 
some of you have pointed out, heat units are a factor, also the same 
limiting factor as in fruit trees, of enough leaf surface to properly feed a 
certain number of fruits.  Sandy soils are not exactly known for their big 
supply of trace minerals, so I don't think that trace minerals are that 
important, though it may be that what minerals sandy soils CAN hold or DO 
have are in different proportions than those in clay soils.  Maybe we have 
too much of something in clay to make for good watermelon flavor. 
Cantalopes ARE different as someone pointed out, and we have grown some, 
they tasted good.  I think Pike is the one developed for clay soils 
specifically.     Donna 

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