growing watermelon and cantaloupe

mingwei1(z6MA)May 6, 2006

Hi I am helping kids in our neighborhood grow a little plot and we are planning to grow a little bit of watermelon and cantaloupe. Last year I planted a watermelon vine that was not successful -- it only grew one little fruit, and I think someone stole it, b/c one day it too had disappeared. Anyways, do you think it didn't flower and fruit well b/c there was only one vine? Are there any tips for growing only one plant of each, or should I try to grow more than one?


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bonsaist(Z6/ Bethlehem, Pa)

cantaloupes and watermelons are not self-fertile. experts recommend 5 vines to be planted to insure pollination.
I had same experience when I planted 2 vines or 3 vines. They barely set any fruits.
Suggest to check for named varities that will ripen early in your zone. They like plenty of water while the fruit is forming... when it's almost full size... keep it on the drier side to enhance the sugar content in the fruits.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 11:05AM
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You can grow up to three cantaloupe or watermelon plants from the same hill. These plants are insect pollinated, and can grow male and female blossoms on the same plant.

But these vine crops are heat and sunlovers, and the problem in northern locations like MA is lack of same. You can overcome this to some extent by growing melons on black plastic, which draws heat from the sun during the day and conserves it at night. Plastic also holds down weed competition, and prevents evaporation of moisture. I grow all my melons on large sheets of heavy solid black plastic, and never have to water them because there is so little moisture loss to sun evaporation.

You should be able to grow a shorter-season watermelon like the 75-day Sugar Baby (about 10 pounds), and there are quite a number of shorter-season cantaloupe varieties. Sugar Baby is an excellent watermelon in every respect, but I would not try growing the big 20-40 pounders in MA. Nor would I try growing melons in any location that is shaded by trees or buildings.

The other thing melons require is a highly enriched soil to grow vigorously and produce fruits of any size. You can tell how well a melon plant is going to produce just by looking at the leaves. Big, healthy, dark-green leaves mean good melons. Scraggly, weak plants mean little or nothing. You should be able to direct-seed melons in MA by about mid-May, but no earlier since they will not germinate in cold soil. Or, you can start plants indoors in pots and gain a little time advantage, but not much.

So enrich your soil with something like bagged manure, buy a little black plastic, and give it a try. If you get melons, watch the vine tendril closest to the melons for signs of ripeness. When the tendril turns brown, the bottom of the melon should also be yellow, and the melon should have a very low tone (something like a D) when thunked.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 1:07PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)


If the plot is in a public place and you think someone stole your one little watermelon last year, you might think about growing some other types of melons. Stealing watermelons is common, and they look ripe before they are.

You might try one or two varieties that don't have such a familiar look: maybe gray-green Charentais and/or dark-skinned Noir des Carmes or Emerald Gem. Charentais doesn't look ripe even when it is and the dark-skinned melons look 'green' up until it's time to pick them. Learn when to pick them yourself by doing a search over at the Heirlooms forum.

If you had a third melon, maybe an early traditional muskmelon, it could increase the appearance that the other two type(s) were not ready to steal yet. And all three of these types could help to pollenize each other, though it is still a good idea to have a few plants of each one.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 1:52AM
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Hi, I have consistantly good luck with this method. As Melons are all of the cucumber family which do'nt like there roots disturbed, I start mine in four inch peatmoss pots about four weeks prior to planting in the garden,I place them in one of those mini greenhouses you can buy at the retailers,and place them in my oven then turn on the light which brings the temp. up to about 80%F. Place a thermometer in oven and prop open door to maintain optimum temp. I have had consistantly good luck with Hybrid Alaska Muskmelon they have never failed in 25 years, and grow as big as a football and super sweet.Good luck Regards Larry

    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 7:14PM
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One other suggestion: what about putting in pumpkins? I've found them much less picky about heat and soil. Plus, because you aren't having to worry about the heat for sugar content, they can continue to grow later in the season, even after the weather has cooled down some. They grow like gangbusters and kid's love them. I also think they may be less prone to being snatched by the would-be melon thief.

A variety like Howden makes a nice sized pumpkin. Direct seed. Expect sprouts in less than a week.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 2:17PM
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Hi i am planting cantaloupe seeds would it grow in my house it is 22ºc I live in Winnipeg MB do i need anything thanks tasty

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 6:25PM
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Cantaloupes are not a very good choice for indoor culture, if that is what you are talking about here. They are vining plants that require a great deal of space, as well as warm temperatures and full sunlight. You may be able to germinate the seeds at 22C, but the best outdoor conditions that make cantaloupe vines really grow and produce are in excess of 25C. I am afraid if you try to grow cantaloupes indoors, even under strong grow lights, you will be disappointed with the results.

On the other hand, if you are considering only starting cataloupe seeds indoors for later transplant to a sunny outdoor location, many people in cooler climates do that to gain a jump on what may be a short summer season.

When you want to make a post in the future, go to the top of the page and click on "post a message", and assign your own newe subject to it. This is better than appending your post to an old thread that may deal with other subjects, and is more likely to get the attention and assistance of other growers.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 11:15AM
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