Can I grow melons vertically in a greenhouse?

sethkyApril 13, 2010

I posted this question in vertical gardening but no one answered, so imma repost it here.

Okay so I'm trying to grow honey dews and cantaloupes in rockwool slabs by training them up to the roof of my frankenstein greenhouse with plant yoyos. Of course, I don't want to rely on the yoyo string being able to hold the weight of the melons, or the vines for that matter. So I'm planning on building some netting to suspend the melons from the ceiling once they get big. Sounds efficient AMIRITE?

Here's what I got?

So will this work or am I just retarded for trying?

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Did you ever watch a show called the victorian gardener. It was on PBS and originated from England. It was with an old gardener who had apprenticed as a lad to a big estate there. It was very interesting to see how they did things back then and I picked up a few tricks along the way. Did you know those brick walls were not just to define the garden and protect from wind. They had a more devious point. They had ovens built into them and fires built in them protected their espalliated fruit trees. This is a long ramble to get to the point. They did exactly what you want to do. Grew their melons vertically. In fact they had a greenhouse devoted to growing them.

So it is doable if you want to spend the time and sacrifice some melons. They had the vines supported but that did not support the fruit. Each melon had it's own little hammock to support it and some of the fruit--blossoms was stripped off to allow the others to grow. I don't know what a yo-yo string is but as long as it doesn't cut into the vine. I'd be tempted to use velcro ties or old nylon stockings. Give it a try with a few vines and see how it works. You may be on to something

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 10:33AM
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Dan Staley

I trellis my melons outside. No reason why you can't do it in a GH. As above, you'll need strong support and individual support for melons.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 10:51AM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

I do something very similar with cucumbers inside our GH and it works swimmingly. Granted, melons are heavier than cukes, but if you make some sort of support for the fruits it seems like that would be just fine.

For support of the vines I just use plain jute twine tied to the ceiling and then wrapped many times around the stem of the vine. Since it's wrapped so many times around the stem it distributes the pressure so the vines suffer no damage. As the vine grows, I keep wrapping the string around it. I adjust the tension on the twine via a simple slip knot at the ceiling. I do the same thing with tomatoes and it's super simple and keeps the plants growing exactly where you want them.

I seem to recall something in Shane Smith's book, The Greenhouse Gardener's Companion, that described a melon trellis. I've loaned my book to a neighbor, so I can't confirm that right now.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 1:26PM
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Melons are commonly grown in commercial greenhouses. Notice the net bags holding up each fruit.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 3:03PM
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arlenem(z8 WA)

This year I grew Alvaro - described as a Charentais type melon - in my greenhouse. I now have three melons hanging in little hammocks.
The oldest two are developing the typical netting of tan scar-like tissue on their outsides and seem to have stopped getting bigger. No sign of their wanting to separate from the vine.

How do I tell when I should pick the melons?


    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 1:17PM
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marylandmojo(zone 7--Md.)

First, arlenem:

I'm a longtime grower, and as much as I love the perfumed smell and taste of Charentais melons, I don't grow them for the very reason that they do not identify the fact that they're ripe. Maybe they do for more astute observers than me--some tell me they note the duller color, etc.--but the best way I know to identify ripeness in a Charentais melon is to note the date of planting on the calendar, and note the days to maturity given by the plant producer--generally about 80-85 days, and then give a good educated guess as when to pick them, and hope for the best.

I must tell you that there ARE very nice and sweet melons that do change color when ripe--most, from tannish to yellow--and I DO grow them for the very reason that they identify their ripeness with a color change. They're for me, and there are modern and heirloom melons (and Oriental melons) that taste as good as Charentais. At least you don't waste them by picking them at the wrong time.


What oilpainter mentioned is true. You can grow giant watermelons vertically--IF you find a way to support the fruit (melons). Aye, there's the rub.

Unless you're growing melons for your personal use--or as an agronomic experiment--why do it? You can readily note that it requires a lot of effort to support each individual fruit. I'm not sure it could be a viable commercial venture. The "ky" in your handle leads me to believe you're in Kentucky, which is mostly zones 6 and 7. I doubt the energy expenditure to grow them could be paid for by the value of the melons you grow.

Just a thought. Certainly don't let me discourage you if it's an experiment you want to do. I was just examining the pragmatics of it.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 4:15PM
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poppa(z5 MA)

I did so this year. Got maybe 3 melon per vine. Did not net them and found them cracked on the ground if i wasn't attentive. *sigh* works fine.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 10:53PM
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I have mine growing on a metal trellis in a greenhouse. So far they are resting "over my head" on the trellis, however, I plan to transfer a couple to a knee hi stocking (as suggested in the book by Shane Smith) and then tying the stocking to the trellis. I used plastic cable ties to help anchor the vine in places on the vertical trellis which was wood and horizontal trellis which was metal. So far so good.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 12:23AM
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