Answer: It's really difficult to grow melons in the Pacific Northwest, so anything you can do to hasten the ripening process will be to your benefit. The black plastic mulch will help absorb and radiate heat, so that's a very good move! You can, and should, pinch out the tips of the vines once they have set a fruit or two. This will channel the plants' energy into ripening the fruit instead of growing additional vine and developing additional flowers. You can remove some of the immature fruit, as well. Try to do minimal damage to the vines when pinching off the tips and fruits. Lopping off unwanted vines will leave an opening for insects and diseases, but pinching just the tip of the growing vine will enable the plant to seal the wound in a quick and natural way. When removing unwanted fruit, try twisting it off rather than cutting. Again, this should leave as small a wound as possible - one that the plant is capable of sealing off without too much trouble. Hope you have a tasty harvest!
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