For sweet melons that ripen weeks before the threat of frost, try these tips in your garden.
Plant seedlings two weeks early under hot caps.
- Start saving large tin cans, such as coffee cans.
- When the vines take off, pinch off the fuzzy ends to concentrate the plants' energy into producing flowers and fruit, rather than more vine.
- As the melons form, bury the tin cans near them. Place the cans open end down, deep enough so they won't tip over.
- When the melons are the size of baseballs, gently lift them onto the cans. Sunlight warms the metal cans, and the heat is transferred to the melons, ultimately making for sweeter melons. The elevated fruits are off the cool ground, in full sun above their foliage.
- Near the end of summer, pick off any little green melons you know won't ripen before a frost. The remaining fruit will finish ripening faster and better.