Muskmelons on fence

madabouteu(8A - central Alabama)February 28, 2013

I do not have much room to grow melons in beds, so I want to grow melons on fences - I do have lots of fence space! I've ordered several types of seeds already, but does anyone have recommendations? Needless to say, I concentrated on small-fruited sorts. First time I have tried growing muskmelons.

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I have never grown melons but have some experience with large pumpkins a couple of years ago. They took over my back yard and yielded very well-I made pies for all my neighbors. They were grown with morning sun and afternoon shade in a bed that was treated with a lot of compost. They need to be watered well at the base of the vine, particularly when setting fruit. Curcubits produce male flowers first (to establish flight paths of pollinators) and then the female flowers-so don't get discouraged when the first flowers just fall off. If you are growing the vines on a fence you may find Mel Bartholomew's ("All New Squarefoot Gardening" author) tip useful: support heavy fruit using slings made from women's nylons-they are strong but don't damage the fruit.
All the best!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 10:12AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

After Googling, I think muskmelon is the same thing as cantaloupe. As a reformed Yankee, I'm still learning some of these alternate names for things.

I made a bed on both sides of part of our CL fence and these melons grow well on there, very little guidance needed. The fruits on mine didn't get big enough to need support, but I love Susan's suggestion of how to do it if necessary. (And Wow - those pumpkins!!) Hopefully the soil has improved significantly in that area and we'll get some bigger melons this year. It was reclaimed from grass just last spring. Planning to try zucchini and cukes in that area this year too, I loved the fence as a vine support, and only a small footprint is needed for each vine.

Just beware if this applies - our fence runs E/W, so as the vines grew up the fence, it made much more shade in a strip on the other (north) side of the fence. Also, I made the mistake of putting the roots on the wrong (north) side for a couple of the plants and they didn't do as well at all even though the foliage had the same exposure. Could be some other factor, but I assumed it was too much shade at the crown.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 10:46AM
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madabouteu(8A - central Alabama)

Actually, One of the things I have learned is that true canteloupes are seldom grown here in the US - what we call canteloupes are almost always muskmelons, thus the term I used. But do not ask me exactly what the difference is, except that true canteloupes have a harder rind! The fence I plan to use runs N-S so I should be OK. I may bring a few seedlings of the melons to the swap.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 1:29PM
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Minnesota Midget has done well for me despite being a short season variety for northern climes. Each plant is about a 4'-5' vine and produces about 2 small (4") melons which are very easy to tell when ripe -- they turn yellow and pretty much fall off the vine by themselves. You can succession plant to spread out the harvest.

So no giant vines to deal with. And they will be the very first melons ripe in the summer!

On a fence you'd need to support them with a pantyhose sling or something lest they fall to the ground, but they are ideal for smaller spaces and household with few melon eaters.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 5:13PM
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