's how I'm trying it this year.

runswithscissors(MT 4/5)April 6, 2013

I've started them this week in large solo cups, cut down the sides and taped back together, so I can simply open the cups to transplant them with little to no root disturbance. Once they are about 4" or 5" I have 2 gallon buckets waiting for them. I drilled a hole in the bottom, and laid a section of chicken wire in the bottom, leaving the end long enough to drape up and over the sides...then filled with soil. I will transplant the solo cup melons into the buckets. When it's time to transplant the bucket melons, I will lift the whole root ball out by the ends of the wire, so I'm hoping there will be no root disturbance and I can plant the melon, wire and all, directly in the hole I've dug in the garden. My last frost date is around May 24th. So, I'm going to plant out around then, and depending on the melon's size I will cover them with a wall-o-water or a hot cap and then a floating row cover over that. Finally by the middle of june I should be able to allow them free reign to grow.

Since I'm starting this process so early do you think I'll have enough time to actually get a melon this year? Do you think this system will work?

ps I have the buckets in a heated greenhouse.

should I try this with gourds and watermelons too?

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Hi. I winter sow my melons and squash, if I don't the crows and starlings will eat all the seedlings! I just w/s in a 3" pot and leave them in there until its time to plant. After I plant them I put a cloche (my cloches are light green) over them to provide some shade and shelter from the winds until they get stronger. I'm in z5a Canada which is more like zone 4. I still get melons, not an awful lot but I still get enough to eat. Marg

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 8:40AM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Well RWS, my last frost date is May 24th as well, so for these purposes we can both consider ourselves Zone 2. :)

I think your idea sounds good. It will depend on the kind of summer you get though, so if they don't do well then try again next year. We've had summers hot enough and autumns long and warm enough to produce edible cantaloupes sprouted from my mom's compost pile, so anything's possible.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 9:35AM
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Watermelons you should definitely start early as they are tougher than muskmelons/canteloupes to grow in the north. Gourds you can plant directly outside on May 24... I have grown them direct from seed here in zone 3 at 53.5 degrees north latitude, and they were exceptionally heavy producers by early September.

I have grown muskmelons/canteloupes twice here (going back to my garden notes for details). In 1999 I grew 3 plants of "Alaskan canteloupe", starting the seeds indoors on April 30 and planting in the garden under plastic on May 27. The plastic was removed around July 1, and on Sep. 12 when frost threatened I picked 6 small melons -- 4 were about grapefruit-size, and 2 were double that. They weren't quite ripe yet but muskmelons ripen nicely in a warm spot indoors as long as they have sized-up outside.

In 2003 I grew "Passport tropical melon", which looked like some kind of cross between canteloupe and honeydew, with canteloupe rind and a sweet greenish flesh that tastes like a very sweet canteloupe. I didn't record as many details, but they were earlier, began ripening in mid-August and when I picked the last of them on Sept. 8, I had picked 10 melons from a 4'x5' patch. I've included a pic of a Passport melon taken on August 20.

I've tried watermelons here twice, both fails. One year they got no bigger than walnut size at harvest, the other year it was a small yellow ice-box melon that sized up one melon in the garden but it never ripened. Watermelons won't ripen indoors, so it's mature them in the garden or not at all.

Canteloupe-like Passport melon, Aug. 20, 2003:

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 3:10PM
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BTW, here's what happened to that ice-box watermelon I grew years ago and got to size up in the garden... my daughter "adopted" it, named it "Melon" (what else?) and made a bed for it beside hers. I'm certain it wasn't quite ripe, but I never got the chance to see until it started to rot a couple months later...

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 3:21PM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

Lol don555 that is exactly what would happen here.....

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 4:05PM
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runswithscissors(MT 4/5)

I've tried melons, watermelons, gourds and pumpkins for the past 3 years. problems. The gourds grow very well, and are ready for halloween, but so far I've not had the time for them to become hard, crafty gourds. They rot as soon as it freezes. Two years ago I did get a moon-and-stars watermelon to grow to about the size of your daughters doll "melon". But only the very center had turned pink and was not ripe enough to eat. I also grew some small cantaloups about the size of softballs that were very sweet, and the hornets devoured them. But last year was a complete bust! Late fact, no spring. Winter promptly turned into the dog days of summer in middle june, and then forest fire smoke blotted out the sun the rest of the season. Major let-down.

I'm starting my watermelon seeds tonight, don. I don't know why I thought that they were easier than muskmelons. Was your Alaskan canatoupes sweet? or only so/so?

northslope - isn't it funny how things do so much better sometimes when left to their own devices?! My grass grows just terrific when I leave it alone in my flower beds, but as soon as I try to grow it in the lawn the problems begin!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 10:12PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

>>Since I'm starting this process so early do you think I'll have enough time to actually get a melon this year? Do you think this system will work? You might want to post this for your area,...this is the zone 1 to 3 forum.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 11:13PM
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I kind of like hearing what people are doing a zone or two ahead of me... it gives me inspiration! And if I can help them out with some cold-climate tips, so much the better.

RWscissors -- the Alaskan melons were sweet, but the fruit were small. I actually don't like the taste of muskmelon/canteloupe... I grew them for the challenge. I only tried one out of each year's production, then gave the rest away to folks who like muskmelon.

Might have to give watermelons a try again this year... my daughter's too old now to adopt and protect Melon again.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 1:02AM
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runswithscissors(MT 4/5)

Yes, Konrad, I realize that, but I have been unable to successfully raise a melon to term in my Montana garden because of our short summers...I was hoping that any advice a zone 3er could give would surely work for me. I happen to learn more from this forum than I do from people growing melons in Virginia.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 6:36PM
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