[NAFEX] Of melons and dreams...

Jolyn jolyn at tctwest.net
Tue Jun 9 17:27:23 EDT 2009

Sorry, my reply is only off-list.
I am not sure that I will be of help but my zone range is the same so I will 
address a couple of your questions.
I have grown melons for about 30 years but my experience has not been from 
research.  There aren't many melons that ripen on each vine in Zone 4/5 so I 
haven't tried some of the things you mention.
1. I definitely start removing the new melons setting on after 4-5 have set 
on each vine or hill.
2. I do not prune the vines as they seem to need all the leaf space possible 
to ripen the melons.
3.  I have found that size is mostly determined by the variety.  I haven't 
found that pruning and the amount of melons on the vine makes a difference.
4. They do taste better with richer soil and plenty of heat.  When the 
melons have less flavor it seems to be caused by cooler weather.

I can't imagine that succession planting would do much good in a short 
season area.  I think we are lucky when we get the 4-5 per hill to ripen.
I have gotten the best results from some of the varieties offered by Fedco 
and Pinetree.
That is my 2 cents. Growing melons in Zone 4/5 is a crap shoot but the years 
they are good are REALLY good.
Jolyn in Montana

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "fuwa fuwa usagi" <fuwafuwausagi at muchomail.com>
To: <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, June 09, 2009 2:31 PM
Subject: [NAFEX] Of melons and dreams...

> 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.
> tfb
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