[NAFEX] Of melons and dreams...

fuwa fuwa usagi fuwafuwausagi at muchomail.com
Tue Jun 9 16:31:29 EDT 2009

The ignorance of fluffy…

So there are very many topics I know little of, but the cure for ignorance is education and experience.  That being said the topic is melons.  I did review the archives and found a minor thread in 2002 and one mention of two posts on some other date and no one raised  a fuss, so I guess this is on topic for this list.  

So here is the issue.  I do not know squat about growing melons.   To clarify I have grown a melons only a couple of times over the years, and either they vary like crazy according to weather conditions or by variety, whatever the case it is clear I have no clue..  In looking over the literature out there it seems very plebian.  However in examining what people write I get the idea that there are many secrets to watermelon growing that are sort of kept under lock and key or at least not widely disseminated in generic gardening guides an don websites.

Here are my suspicions.

1)	There are definitely melons for your area
2)	Weather is a huge obstacle
3)	There is either a group of pruning techniques specific to certain types of melons or  a pruning technique and cultivation techniques suitable for each melon type

In reading I have seen references to not allowing more than x amount of this type of melon set, pruning out the arms at so many arms for this type of melon, not watering x days before harvest for this type of melon etc etc.   It seems melons vary widely in how big they get and how much room you give them.  I have seen reference that if you crowd or try and keep Charleston Gray smaller the quality is not very good but you get  a better Crimson Sweet if you crowd it and keep it smaller.  These type of comments from what seem to be experienced grower make me very curious.  It also implies that you certainly can control size.

It also follows that you thin some melons and do not thin others.  You prune some melons and do not prune others etc, etc.

Also, it is not clear to me if people succession plant melons or stagger the plantings or not. I have not seen a reference to that at all, which makes me wonder if within a 6 week period the weather is more the factor determining ripening and quality than days to harvest or is melons produce in a succession like indeterminate tomatoes.

Zone wise I am in 4b/5a about 50 miles west of Chicago, and I get Rockford IL weather patterns (colder in the winter, and hotter and drier in the summer) Anyway here is what I have started for this year:

Hales Best   
Burpee Hybrid 
Crimson Sweet  
Charleston Gray
Minnesota Midget
Sugar Baby 

Ideally as a home grower I would like smaller melons that respond well to trellising and one or two types that are large melons that have to sprawl on the ground.

As far as trellising goes, can you just prune them to fit an force flowering or do they have to get  a certain size for each variety?  Does the size increase or stay the same if you allow fewer melons to grow?   Do you get a better melon is you go with one melon a plant?  Is there an optimal number?  I was thinking of simply lashing together some long tree branches (6-12 feet) in a teepee shape for trellises and winding the vines up the poles.

I figure I could trellis Minnesota Midget, Sugar Baby, Hales Best, and BurpeeHybrid.  Any comments or experience?   Any idea on optimum number of fruits to set per plant, do melons all ripen at once or do you get a succession of melons per plant?

Here is something that might interest you.  I had a few seed packs from when I last tried growing melons in 1999 – I figured I would plant many and if one geminated I would be lucky – I go t a100% germination rate from refrigerated 10 year old Sugar Baby seeds out of  a 10c seed pack from American seeds – LOL!!!!

Any comments appreciated.


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