Ask a Question forum: growing any melons

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Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

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texaskitty111
Mar 26, 2014 12:49 PM CST
Any type melon I try to grow, it has trouble ripening. And, they get smaller and smaller. Do you melon experts pinch off the flowers after a number of melons have set? Then the plant can concentrate on ripening those it has?
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Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

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texaskitty111
Mar 28, 2014 3:35 PM CST
This is a picture of my new (no melons yet!) melon patch. I'm posting it mostly to get some answers for above question. Are there no melon experts out there?


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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 28, 2014 5:03 PM CST
Wow, nice bed! Do you have drip irrigation under that white plastic mulch?

I'm going to be little help, because it's next to impossible for me to grow melons here. Or any kind of squash or cucumbers either. Bugs and fungal disease have nixxed every attempt I've made.

I did do lots of reading before those attempts, of course. The melons take generous fertilizer to grow a big, healthy vine first, then a huge amount of water when they are sizing up. If they dry out too much (leaves wilt in the middle of the day) before there are lots of leaves on the vines, they will start blooming and setting fruit too early and you'll get small, tasteless fruit.

With a bed that size, yes, I'd be tempted to keep it to 2 or 3 melons per plant so you'll get them big and sweet. Don't forget healthy leaves are what puts the sugar in the melons, so monitor for bugs and disease constantly, and treat early!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

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texaskitty111
Mar 28, 2014 5:21 PM CST
I did have a soaker hose under there, but something chewed it in half (or it burst) before I ever used it. So now, it's an oscillating sprinkler. Takes 2 hours to soak to 6". BTW, that's frost cover, not plastic, so the water can soak thru.
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Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
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chelle
Mar 28, 2014 6:06 PM CST
The only way to get mature melons here is to limit the number of fruits on each vine. One or two is about it. I don't know if that's just a short season response, or if it's due to the fact that we generally don't get any summer rainfall. One of the best tasting melons we ever had here grew in with the roses. Big Grin


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I can't do the plastic or covered beds. Some kind of varmint always gets beneath it and digs holes around my roots, and I don't see them until it's too late. Sad Top-dressing with mulch seems to work better with our plentiful wildlife. The couple down the road from us grow a market garden, however, and all of their beds are fabric covered, so I guess it just depends on the situation.

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Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

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texaskitty111
Mar 28, 2014 6:09 PM CST
Maybe you could pump gas under the plastic? Just kidding
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 28, 2014 6:11 PM CST
I'd definitely go get some more soaker hoses for that bed if I were you. You'd have to run that oscillator all day to keep melons going in hot weather.

First, you'll use a lot less water especially when the weather gets hot, because you're not spraying the water up into the air.

Second, it won't wet the leaves of the melon plants when you water with the soaker under the frost cloth so they'll be less likely to get fungal diseases.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Mar 28, 2014 6:47 PM CST

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Don't know how much difference there would be between growing melons in Texas versus Nebraska, but there are three keys to growing melons here.

1. Relatively light soils. Sandy loam is ideal but I'd take pure blow sand over clay loam, let alone anything heavier.
2. Lots of sun and heat.
3. Quit watering and pray it doesn't rain much once the plants start blooming. Nothing ruins melons (both in terms of production and flavor) like too much moisture while the fruits are developing.
[Last edited by KentPfeiffer - Mar 29, 2014 8:21 PM (+)]
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Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

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texaskitty111
Mar 30, 2014 10:39 AM CST
I think you're right, Elaine




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Done!

Thank You!
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Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

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texaskitty111
Mar 30, 2014 10:41 AM CST
I have requirements 1 & 2 Kent. 3 is going to take a major mind set, I may not be able to not water.
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Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Mar 30, 2014 11:20 AM CST

Plants Admin

It's a bit counter-intuitive, since there is so much water in the fruit, but the more you water them after they start setting on the smaller and less flavorful the melons will be. Any time we have wet weather in July and August (rare), my melons are practically inedible. Drought years are the best.

In general, melons thrive on benign neglect. They do benefit from watering and weeding when the vines are first developing. Beyond that, the more you care for them the less happy you are likely to be with the results.
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

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texaskitty111
Mar 30, 2014 1:12 PM CST
The leaves welt most every day here in the TX 100 +° temp. No water I would think would kill the plant. I'm trying to decide on a happy medium, since you live in neb. I dont think you understand how relentless the summer heat is here.
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 30, 2014 3:58 PM CST
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
[Last edited by dyzzypyxxy - Mar 30, 2014 4:27 PM (+)]
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 30, 2014 4:26 PM CST
You've sure got the 'sandy loam' requirement down. Nice soaker hose layout, there!

I'd suspect the diff between Kent's climate zone and yours (and mine) is that the nights don't cool off nearly as much in TX and FL as they do in NB. The plants just don't recover as much over night. It's the same reason my tomatoes give up sometime in June here - even though the days aren't that hot (93 was our hottest temp the last two summers) they need cool nights to revive.

Maybe try watering in the evenings to cool the soil and let the plants drink up over night? Just enough to get the leaves perked back up to survive the next day's baking. The wilting isn't a concern as long as the leaves recover over night and look good in the mornings. You need lots of healthy leaves to make sugar in the melons.

Come to think of it, the commercial melon growers here do harvest in late spring, so they probably have trouble keeping the plants going through summer too.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

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texaskitty111
Mar 30, 2014 4:28 PM CST
I could do that. I must admit the tx gardener's around me won't water anything. They just let it die if it doesn't rain. I've talked to a few, and they are no more successful at getting melons than I am. It doesn't seem to matter what is done, some years no one gets melons, some years the tomato crop is dismal. Maybe it's out of our hands? I do appreciate Kent's input however, and can understand how too much water might crack, water down the flavor, etc. And, he gets melons, I do not.
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