Need help growing melons

northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)August 9, 2014

This is my first time growing melons - 3 varieties: Mini honeydew and sugar cube (seeds from trades) and sugar baby (Burpee seeds). The plants have been flowering for more than a month and each of these plants have started small fruit which have eventually turned black and dropped off. I assume they have been pollinated because there are cucucmbers, zucchinis, and butternuts nearby which are producing healthy produce. The plants are on a trellis, look quite healthy, and get bout 6 hours direct sunlight each day. Are there certain viruses to which these smaller varieties are susceptible? I am way up north, with a very short growing season, so these are my only options. Any advice would be welcome. Thank you.

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danzeb(7a long island)

How small were the fruit when they dropped off? Sounds like poor pollination,

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 12:25PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

Thanks for your inquiry Danzeb. The little melons which fell off were about the size of a pea, but what I have noticed is that there have been no more in the past week. In addition, my butternut vines do not have any fruit which have survived so I think it has something to do with poor or no pollination. I grow Agastache each year, and usually at this time of year it is filled with bees, painted ladies, and swallowtails but this year there are a few bees and I saw only one swallowtail so far. I have parsley and and dill in the garden for them and lots of flowers, but no monarchs or hummingbirds. My garden is pesticide-free, so I don't know what is going on. I will keep watching and see if anything turns up.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 6:00PM
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Six hours of sunlight is not enough to grow melons.
They need full all day sun.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 6:28PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

Thank you for this information, Rayrose. These are a new addition and the full sun area had been taken up for tomatoes and peppers, so I used what space I had. I will plan for them next year, perhaps appropriate a little more lawn space. Less grass to mow is always a plus.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 10:36AM
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glenn_10 zone 4b/5a NewBrunswick,Can.

Hi northerner on., I also have a short and cool growing season and typically need to give melons every bit of boost I can give them. I start seeds early to mid april(depending on weather trends).They are grown under grow lights in my heated basement in a room kept to about 25Celcius. After germination sometimes depending on variety as soon as 4 days I transplant the strongest growing ones into 4 inch pots where they grow while I prep the garden plot. I have a tractor with a tiller(actually 2 tractors with tillers:) and some chickens and neighbors with cattle and horses so no shortage there. Lots of junk gets tossed in then tilled a few times then hilled up and some sort of ground cover be it garbage bags or weed barrier is layed down on the hill and held in place with soil. A mini green house is then placed over the hill to hasten warming of the soil(see photo). I usually wait till night time temps don't fall below 10C before planting out, I am sure I could put them out sooner but I am not that much of a risk taker to lose my melons. Usually by mid May I feel it is safe enough to plant out. I keep an eye on the forecast and if it is going to be over 18C for the daily high I will open the ends of the green house to allow air movement so it does get too hot, and then close them back up when I get home from work to build more heat for the night. Male blossoms appear first then female a few days to 2 weeks later sometimes longer. I normally see the first fruits abort then the later ones hook on and grow rapidly then sit there for a month or two ripening.
When I first started growing melons I could never get a ripe water melon only cantaloupes and honey dews . After I got the ground cover and mini green house thing going I have had good success year after year. This year was an exceptionally late start our last big freeze was May 29 with everything safe under plastic. I did not remove the plastic until the very end of June because it was so cold this year yet looks like we have a bumper crop of melons again this year. I will take a few photos and post tomorrow


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 10:51PM
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Northerner, I'm in zone 3, central Alberta. The earliest watermelon I know of is "Yellow Doll". It is an icebox yellow-fleshed melon that tastes exactly like a regular red watermelon and produces fruit that each weigh about 2 kg. When I used to live near Ottawa it would ripen at least two weeks ahead of other early melons such as Sugar Baby or Early Canada. I've tried it here in Alberta 3 times -- once a total failure, once I got a melon to size up but not ripen, then finally last year I got 6 ripe melons off 2 plants. Yellow Doll has very small vines, which appeals to me.

I use a little mini-greenhouse (about 5 ft long and 3 ft wide) set up something like Glenn's, then take it off when the melons start to flower in early or mid July. I think I have about 9 melons set on 4 plants this year, here's a pic of one of the biggest:

And here's a pic from last fall (October 7) showing a ripe melon. I did have to cover them several nights to keep them going until mid-October for all of them to ripen. They won't ripen off the vine but do seem to continue to ripen on the vine even in cool fall weather, unlike any red melon I used to grow.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 11:56PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

Hi Glenn & Don: I can't thank you enough for your detailed instructions. Now that I have this information I will be armed and ready for next year. There have been no further fruit on my three vines, so I guess they are done for this year. One of them was attacked by an animal (I have been battling squirells, a rabbit, and a ground hog) and it was bitten off near the root so that's done.

Thanks for the heads up on Yellow Doll, Don. I have never heard of this one but will look for it, especially since you had success with it in Ottawa where I live.

I guess I can start the melons indoors along with my peppers and tomatoes, and I am sure I can manage creating a little greenhouse with hula hoops. I need to get my hands on some real manure and plan to visit a couple of these valley farms which are selling meat from their premises. I hope I have your permission to copy your photos. and text - they are invaluable. Enjoy your harvest!!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 1:18AM
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glenn_10 zone 4b/5a NewBrunswick,Can.

I too am growing yellow doll. It seems to be a very vigorous plant , my first time growing it this year. I bought the seeds from henry fields. I just at a very small Canada early melon on Sunday(red flesh) and a cantaloupe today not sure which variety as I have planted many. I am looking forward to eating the yellow dolls. I had one a few weeks ago get snipped off by some critter, boy I was livid! It probably would have been ripe now as it was starting to turn yellow.
don555 It amazes me how you kept them growing into October!!!! I lived just outside Edmonton many years ago and after labour day winter came fast!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 9:38PM
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