The Q&A Archives: Growing Melons in Containers

Question: Can you please give suggestions for the successful cultivation of watermelon and cantaloupe in large containters (support for fruit, recommended fertilization, and watering routine).

Answer: Cantaloupe and watermelon need plenty of soil for their roots, a steady supply of moisture and lots of sunlight. Give them a half whiskey barrel container (or the equivalent in size) per 2 or 3 plants and plan on watering daily once the plants attain some size.

A good soil mix would be a well-drained potting mix enriched with compost. You can fertilize with a number of products including commercial liquid plant food, compost tea, seaweed and fish emulsion. Weekly feeding will likely be best to keep vines vigorous and healthy.

Vines may be left to grow on the ground or deck, or you could place the containers near a lattice or fence and let them climb. With climbing vines you need to provide support for the fruit. Old hosiery makes a good support for cantaloupe. Cut into 6" sections, tie a knot in one end, slip over the fruit when it is about the size of a baseball and tie the other end to the trellis. Make sure and tie higher than needed as the growing fruit will stretch the hose. Watermelon can be supported in a similar fashion, except using stronger materials.

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