How to Grow: Organic Melons
Spring has officially arrived! This is the perfect time of year to brush up on your knowledge of growing techniques. Here at MIgardener, we want to share all of our favorite growing secrets; from our garden to yours. As you read through this post, you'll find there is nothing simpler than growing organic!
Melons come in three main categories: muskmelons, honeydew, and watermelons. Muskmelons and cantaloupes have netted skins and orange flesh. Closely related to muskmelons, honeydews have smooth skin and green flesh. Watermelons are a different species and originated in tropical Africa. Melons are some of the most popular, and most difficult fruits to grow in the garden. They are more sensitive to diverse conditions compared to other vining crops. The soil should be just right, the sun needs to be shining, and spacing directions are particular, but once you get it right there is nothing like a good home grown watermelon.
Let's get started.
Unlike pumpkins or other vining crops, melons require extremely rich, loose soil in order to thrive. This is because melons have a single root base instead of multiple. Amend soil with plenty of compost and sand. This will allow for the roots to have access to the best drainage and aeration possible.
Melons are heavy nitrogen feeders. A minimum of two feedings of blood meal per season for the best results. Nitrogen high fertilizer will encourage leaf growth at the beginning of the season and then give it the extra boost it needs for fruit development later. Trifecta+ works as an all purpose option!
A slightly acidic soil is recommended. Do a soil test and hope to find the soil between the 6.0-6.5 range.
Melons absolutely must be placed in a location with full sun. Warm weather only. Absolutely will not do well in cool weather. Don't plant outside until nighttime temperature is up to 70ºF. Unfortunately for most northern regions, most melons do not produce well. Warmth really is the key to growing the perfect melons.
Melons are 90% water. Water regularly to see the best results. Melons are deep rooted, but need consistent moisture, especially early in their growth and during flowering or early fruiting. Avoid overhead watering late in the day to minimize powdery mildew. Melons need moisture, so its hard to completely prevent powdery mildew. There's more information about how to prevent powdery mildew in this amazing throwback MIgardener how-to video. Enjoy.
Melons tend to be garden hogs! Their large vines and fruit take up so much space in the garden that most melons require 5 feet between each plant.
To test ripeness, look at tendril across from where the fruit is attached to the vine. A dry and brown tendril means mature fruit. Pick musk-melons when the fruit pulls easily from the vine. However, honeydews are overripe at that point. Only netted melons should be stored below 45ºf. With proper storage, many varieties can last 2-4 weeks.[caption id="attachment_295081" align="aligncenter" width="400"]
Image: Utah State University[/caption]
Written by - Kaitlynn from MIgardener
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