Growing honeydew melons indoors over the winter

semajeAugust 18, 2009

I am kinda new to this whole gardening thing, but I really like it. I took some honeydew seeds from a melon I got from the food store and planted them. A week later they sprouted. Ive had them since like July 20th. I realize this was waaaaayyy late to plant them. But anyways I have them in a 6 gallon container (theres four of em) and plan to keep them outside as long as possible. But then I will move them inside for the winter. So that brings some questions. One, will they produce fruit indoors during the winter in a heated home. And most importanly, what type of lighting do I use? I would like to use a bulb that I can just screw into a ceiling light socket.

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frozen_north(Zone 4a - Minnesota)

I've thought about growing melons indoors but have never done it.

The main problem is space. Mature melon vines are large, typically around 6-8' square. The cost of electricity to light that large an area is considerable. You would have to run a 250W halide bulb for around 12 hours a day, which would cost $10 a month where I live. You would then hope to get 4-6 fruit. Melons also require heat and do best with daytime temperatures in the high 70s or higher.

I would suggest taking a look at the hydroponic places for lights. The majority of their customers grow, um, tomatoes, yeah, tomatoes, and the cultural requirements of a tomato plant are very similar to those of a melon (Some hydroponic setups are intended for growing lettuce and culinary herbs like thyme and basil, which require less light and a somewhat different spectrum, so avoid those).

The vines are delicate so you should get some friends to help with the move if possible.

You should be aware that most storebought melons in the USA are hybrids that don't grow true from seed. You will get a melon, but it may not be a honeydew and may not grow especially large. For next year, you can purchase F1 hybrids like the growers use. I would recommend Athena as being the most reliable of the cantaloupe types, or Earlidew being a good honeydew type. There are also some open-pollinated "heirloom" types that are quite good though perhaps not as easy to grow as the hybrids.

Melons are among the most difficult garden crops to grow. They require a relatively long growing season, warm temperatures, consistent watering, fertile soil, and protection from insects.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 10:45PM
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You would also have to get male and female blooms going on your melons at the same time, and then use a small brush to transfer pollen, unless you keep bees in the house.

I would think even a 250 watt light would be too distant from the plants if it were located near the ceiling, and few lighting fixtures are rated for that wattage. Best to get a fixture with a clamp and run it nearer to the melons.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 11:17PM
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thanks for the posts. But just a few questions. What do you mean by an F1 hybrid? And when I google 250W Halide bulb, i get hits like "250 watt 10000k metal halide bulb", these the same basically? Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 3:22AM
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frozen_north(Zone 4a - Minnesota)

An F1 hybrid is the first cross between two unrelated parents. Wikipedia is your friend.

The Kelvin (k) rating of a bulb denotes the color temperature. Lower values describe a bulb that produces a reddish or yellowish light. Higher values indicate a bluish light. Though much is made of the color temperature I don't find that it makes that much difference.

You do need a special ballast and fixture for halide lights, in most cases. There are a few that are self-ballasted and will work in a regular light socket but they are hard to find and tend to run hot so you have to be sure of the quality of the wiring to the socket, and have to use a ceramic rather than plastic socket.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Wikipedians hold forth on F1 hybrids

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 11:59AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Build a green house and put a heater in, it would be cheaper I think.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 2:49PM
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