A Homemade Life
Welcome to Homemade Life.

To take full advantage of everything offered by our forum, please log in if you are already a member or join our community if not ....

Chilli-head
Who is online?
In total there are 4 users online :: 0 Registered, 0 Hidden and 4 Guests

None

Most users ever online was 62 on 10th April 2015, 8:24 am
Latest topics
» The September garden
by Ploshkin 18th September 2017, 3:03 pm

» Autumn planting vegetables
by Dandelion 15th September 2017, 9:29 pm

» What are you harvesting today?
by Dandelion 15th September 2017, 4:21 pm

» Wildlife cameras
by FloBear 9th September 2017, 11:53 am

» whats on the menu
by Dandelion 5th September 2017, 10:10 pm

» Insect hotel
by FloBear 31st August 2017, 10:07 pm

» seed saving
by freebird 29th August 2017, 1:49 pm

» Argh - how do you grow lettuce ?
by Ploshkin 26th August 2017, 9:40 pm

» Knitting in the round
by FloBear 19th August 2017, 1:41 pm

» What happened to the garden in August ?
by freebird 19th August 2017, 12:24 pm

» Greek "oily" green beans
by Ploshkin 18th August 2017, 7:33 pm

» This year's challenge
by Chilli-head 12th August 2017, 9:09 pm

» The Polytunnel
by freebird 8th August 2017, 10:44 pm

» What are you preserving today?
by Ploshkin 31st July 2017, 11:17 pm

» Masaledar Sem (spicy green beans)
by Ploshkin 31st July 2017, 11:11 pm

» What have I done in the workshop today?
by Ploshkin 31st July 2017, 11:02 pm

» No more petrol / diesel cars from 2040 ?
by FloBear 31st July 2017, 10:21 pm

» Hugelkultur
by FloBear 23rd July 2017, 9:50 am

» Who knows what the weather will bring on the plot in July ?
by Dandelion 20th July 2017, 7:32 pm

» More mead ...
by Chilli-head 19th July 2017, 8:25 pm

Statistics
We have 631 registered users
The newest registered user is gseifrit

Our users have posted a total of 44702 messages in 2320 subjects
HML on FaceBook
RSS feeds



Donate to our Charity
The Homemade life supports Kiva - microloans for people in developing countries working to change their lives.  These loans are repaid to our KIVA account, so your donation is used many times to help different people - literally the gift that keeps on giving..

Growing Melons ~ A success!

View previous topic View next topic Go down

default Growing Melons ~ A success!

Post by Guest on 5th October 2010, 6:16 pm

I was really pleased with my experiment to grow melons this year and can share the lessons learned. It is written with the temperate climate in mind but do not assume, wrongly, that I have “hot summers”. Unfortunately the vegetable beds are in a frost pocket and we had numerous nights of 6 deg throughout the summer. So hopefully this will inspire others to try these simple but divine fruits!

The first year I grew anything here was 2003. I grew some Cantaloup type Charentais melons from seed. These are a common crop in this area. I planted them in the sandy beds and casually looked after them, producing numerous very sweet, small melons, more than we could eat. It wasn’t until the end of 2003 season that I realized that the weather was just absurd, with 50degC and above in courtyards (higher than the thermometers could show), no rain between January and mid July, thousands of people dieing…tomatoes cooking on the plants.

2004 I repeated the procedure and got pretty much nothing in return. The next couple of years were similar and when the seed packet ran out I didn’t buy any more. I gave up!

But I love melons and fresh melons, grown well are exponentially superior to supermarket products so 2010 challenge was to grow melons. I was pleased to find Graines Baumaux selling a packet of 8 varieties mix for 3Euros that originate from Spain, Italy, America and France. These were listed as:
RUGOSO di COSENZA GIALLO - yellow
JAUNE CANARIA 3 - late yellow
NAPOLETANO VERDE PRECOCE - green
ZUCCHERINO d’INGEGNOLI - cantaloup
CHARENTAIS - cantaloup
HALE′S BEST JUMBO – American oval, orange fruit
HONEY DEW
PINONET PIEL de SAPO - green
And I also had some SUGAR BABY – Water Melon
This was a chance to see what could be grown!

The problem with the mixture was that the individual varieties were not identifiable. So I planted 80 modules with as many “like” seeds sharing modules in mid March. They were happily nurtured in the propagator aiming for 20-25degC for germination, but then more probably at 20degC. I was wary when thinning as late varieties and ones that like warmer temperatures may look less strong but just need more time. I potted on about 30 plants including 1 water melon. I had decided to “sacrifice” to the experiment one 1m x 9m strip of one bed and 1x5m on another so that was really only room for maximum of 14 plants! I think I squeezed in 16 in the end. The beds are sandy soil with a lot of compost enriched with sheep manure.

I decided to use hoops that are 2 meters long when not bent, over the 1m stretch. These were put along the edge of one of the sandy beds that gets early sun. I invested in a 2mx10m perforated sheet of horticultural plastic for the cloche. The second cloche was made from 1.5m lengths of tube with solid, heavier duty plastic over them. I had to ensure that the hoops supporting the plastic sheets were above where I planted the melons as when it rained or condensation was heavy the plastic dropped sufficient moisture to rot off 2 of the early plants, before I realised my mistake.

I put the cloches in place perhaps not as early as I should have – I would say 2 weeks to warm the soil but it also must be kept moist. After hardening off the melon plants I planted them out under the cloches late May but the nights were cold and I would wait another week next time as I lost a couple of plants. All lost plants were replaced. The water melon survived but again I tried to ensure I chose a variety of plants, not just the strongest, to ensure a reasonable trail. As June proceeded they were all growing strongly but the flowers were not being pollinated until the weather warmed up after mid June. I would try pollinating with a brush next time for an earlier crop, especially if the cloches had to be closed for much of the day.

Watering is crucial. Each day I water the centre of the 1meter line where I knew the plants roots were. I did not water the edges where the fruits formed. I watered with the hose only ie no nozzle so the water flowed out into a restricted area without damaging the plant. Also, very importantly, the hose is very long and I deliberately left it out on the ground to warm the water in it during the day so the melons were warmed up in the early morning with the warm water. This, I think, really helped them.

I wasn’t too clinical about cutting back the plants. After the first cut at 5 leaves I tended to just keep the mass of melon growths to within the cloches! The Charentais (not surprisingly) developed and fruited first. The first ripe melon was from under the solid plastic, low cloche in the last week of July. By August the cantaloupes, yellow and Hales were ripening. Soon we were eating a melon a day. Then I had to make Melon confiture (excellent on vanilla ice cream) and we gave a couple away, fed friends etc. The yellows that I picked in early September were still being eaten late September. The green varieties are still being eaten now and are keeping extremely well. The Honey Dew was a late developer and in fact I have 3 ripening up by the green house as I didn’t want to throw the late developing plants away. The water melon gave one football sized fruit in mid August and one smaller one later.

The tastes of all the melons are beyond anything you can buy. The Charentais and Hales are rich and sweet. The Honey Dew is staggering with its devine flavour. The white fleshed yellow is cool and smooth. The green are pure delight on these autumn days.

The summary of lessons for me are:
• Warm the soil for 2 weeks and don’t plant out too early
• Use low cloches that keep the ground warmth in
• Water with warm water (early to warm the soil if necessary)
• Pollinate by hand if necessary
• Plant loads of varieties and revel in the fruits of your labours!

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum