I truly, deeply wish I could say that these are melons grown in my garden. But no, I found this pic on Simply in Season.
Our cool, rainy summer has done little in the way of promoting the growth of either my cantaloupe or watermelon. I tried to counter the anticipated cool weather by planting them in a large bucket on the cement patio. And, I do have some growth and tiny melons, but there is no way they will ripen before the real fall weather sets in...so sad...
But, I grew up in Oklahoma...a place where melons abound. Hot summers create a wonderful melon...so, here are some growing tips if you are fortunate enough to live in a place where you can grow these guys.
- To get an early start, in late winter cover growing area with black plastic to warm the soil
- Start seeds indoors, 4 weeks prior to planting
- When weather warms, start checking the temperature of the soil
- When it is 60 degrees, time to plant
- Soil should be really well amended with compost
- Dependent upon your summer temps, you can either cut holes in plastic and plant or remove plastic and plant
- As the melons grow, supply plenty of water and side dressing of compost and/or fish fertilizer
- Watch for cucumber beetles and aphids
- Watch for fungus (mildew, leaf spot) and mosaic virus
- Withhold water for a couple of days before harvest, makes the melon sweeter
Deciding if a melon is ready to harvest seems to be a challenge....these are the indicators I use:
- Look for the tiny tendril closest to the melon, it should be dried and brown (particularly for watermelons)
- Press the end of the melon, not attached to the vine, does it give a bit?
- Smell the same end of the melon, can you smell a sweet melon-y smell?
- Give the melon a thump, does it sound hollow (particularly watermelon)?
The bad news is that if you pick (or buy) a melon that is not ripe, it isn't going to get much riper...they like to ripen on the vine...
I would love to know if you grew melons successfully this year, send me a picture!