Watermelons! What to grow for short seasons?

troman1973(4)April 23, 2009

I want to plant a few watermelon varieties again this year. Seems like I never have enough season to get a good watermelon. I thinking of sugar baby. I also found a yellow watermelon called yellow doll that matures in 65 days. Has anyone tried them? What do yellow melons taste like? Any other varieties that you would recommend? I am also looking for help with muskmelons for short growing.

Any help would be appreciated.


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Stokes seeds has an early variety-68 days- of muskmelon called early sweet. I have grown it in my garden in zone 3. It is a bit smaller than the usual but has a good sweet taste. I too have grown sugar baby watermelon so if you can grow that in your area you can grow this muskmelon.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 1:29PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

I too am trying some melons this year. I have started the seeds in peat pots just last week. These are the varieties I am trying:

Watermelon - Yellow Doll and Lantha

Muskmelon - Alaska, Amy Hybrid, Early Sugarshaw, Lil Loupe,
Lambkin, Angel Hybrid and Minnesota Midget.

I also planted Gourmet. I think it is a honeydew.

I'll keep you posted as to their development.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 3:53PM
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Thanks for the info oilpainter I looked at the seeds with Stokes, they are pretty expensive! I take it your sugar babies did well in zone 3?

Ginny have you tried yellow watermelon before? Seen somewhere they are sweeter than red?? I wanted to try the Alaskan muskmelon too. I have not decided for sure which kind I will get yet, but at least I know I should be able to grow something with our short season.

Thanks again

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 9:07PM
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I Have grown both Sugar Baby and Yellow Doll, both are very good with the yellow being the best flavor wise in my book! JMT ( Just my thoughts )... almost forgot the yellow ripens about a week before sugar baby.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 12:59AM
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The sugar babies did OK in zone 3 but I covered them with a row cover in the spring to start them and in the fall to protect them from frost. A couple of nights in the fall I had to add a blanket too.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 8:50AM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

Haven't grown any melons yet so this is my first try. I can grow pumpkins so I thought I would give the melons a try. I bought a bunch of different varieties to see what I like best and what may grow the best in this zone. My garden is fairly well protected, kinda tucked in. We'll see.

I bought my Yellow Doll, Lantha (improved sugar baby) and Alaska seeds from Vesey's. I think Early's in Saskatoon also has them.

Just this morning they are poking through their pellets, so that is 5 days to sprout!


    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 12:49PM
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Ah, a use for my old gardening notes! I'm in zone 3a, and back in 1999 I tried growing "yellow doll" watermelon and "Alaska" watermelon. I started them indoors in peat pots on April 30, and planted them in the garden on May 27, in an area covered in black plastic (for heat), with holes cut in the plastic for the plants and to let water through. On Sept. 8 I pulled the watermelons, as the biggest fruit was the size of a marble, and the season was about to end. On Sept. 12 (threat of frost) I picked 6 canteloupes -- 4 about grapefruit size and 2 double that size -- these weren't yet ripe but seemed close enough that they would ripen inside. Over the next week or two they ripened up and became very sweet. Since I grew them mostly for the challenge, but don't actually like the taste, I gave them to a neighbour who likes muskmelons.

In 2003, I grew "Passport" melons, which were like a very sweet muskmelon. They ripened by early Sept., but had issues with rotting quickly, especially where the melon contacted the ground.

In 2004, I tried "yellow doll" watermelon again. This time I pollinated the flowers by hand starting July 31. Out of 4 plants, I had one melon get pollinated early. It was about canteloupe size when I picked it Sept. 8, the day before an early-season snowfall of two inches. Although it seemed to have reached full-size, watermelons just don't ripen indoors. So I tried for awhile, but my daughter took pity on "melon", and made a bed for it, and put it to bed and tucked it in every night, so I could hardly cut it open, could I? After about a month, Melon began to rot and was discarded. But it never ripened fully (actually, I cut it open after it started to rot, and it was close to ripe, but still not quite there yet).

From earlier experience with melons in eastern Ontario (zone 5), yellow watermelons ripen at least two or three weeks ahead of the pink watermelons, taste every bit as good, and take up FAR FAR less garden space.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 3:50AM
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Thanks again for the info!

Ginny you are starting yours indoors right now? It is way to early here to start. I was hoping to just put mine in the ground and let them go around June 1!

Don you dont give me much hope though! I know I harvested muskmelons last year and got around 10 of them that ripened nicely, but by September 1 there really is not much chance of making it any more here. I also got one watermelon about 3 or 4 pounds ripe that tasted very good and I didnt put those seeds in til about June 20 way to late. I dont know the varieties I planted last year.

I ordered my seeds yesterday and got Yellow Doll, Sugar Baby, Sweet Favorite Hybrid which is 80 maybe to long, and a new variety Godess muskmelon all from Jung seeds. Not sure why I got so obsessed with melons this year! Hope I have some good results of at least one of them!

Thanks for all the help

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 8:34AM
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Here's my post from "growing melons in zone 3a"
I have been growing watermelons for the last 8 years. Went from outside to the Greenhouse because i would only get about a softball size melon. But 3 years ago I had the use of the neighbors garden. Had a wet Spring (which they don't like ) & hot hot summer. Ended up with about a doz. 5 to 7 lb melons (like the minis you buy in the store). Had to give them lots of water, some nitrogen fertilizer (vining)& bone meal(fruiting)
Types I've grown are Tiger baby, Early harvest, Early canada, Graybelle & Sugar baby. These are small icebox type except the Graybelle.
So if you think you are going to have a hot summer than give it a shot. Start indoors 4 weeks early, plant in mounds,treat like transplanting cucs. & cover for the first couple weeks after transplanting ( tomato cage plastic bag ) wait till vines start to die before picking.
These types are seeded( lots of seeds) but they taste so good especially because you grew them your self.

Wish you luck...Bruce

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 10:54AM
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Lois Hole's book recommends Sweet Favourite (ripens early) and Jack of Hearts (ripens 2 weeks later).

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 4:23PM
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Over the years, I've attempted several varieties, most of which were failures, though one of the best was Tiger Baby, it being early, productive and delicious. It is quite the challenge to grow melons in this area, there's generally just not enough heat units. During times of prolonged cool temperatures, I've even had plants struggle when grown under plastic. On rare occasion, I've had good crops of cantulope, though the crop comes in all at one time and often quickly rots. Though, I've been tempted, it has been too much of a challenge to again dedicate the time and energy. On the other hand, I'd definitley recommend these for southern parts of the prairies ...


    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 12:20PM
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Ahhh, watermelons. The most rewarding fruit that I have ever grown - even if it only worked two seasons out of seven. I have tried a few different varieties including Minnesota Midget (cantelope), Sugar Baby, Blacktail Mountain, Golden Midget, and Noir Des Carnes. All of them are "early" type melons. The very best of the lot was Sugar Baby which were so spectacular that I thought melon growing was going to be a snap as it was my first year growing melons. Not so. It may have been beginners luck but more likely it was the fact that we had a very hot summer with many weeks with temps reaching 30 degrees that year. Minnesota Midget was the only other variety that was edible. Actually, it was over ripe. The other melons grew large enough but didn't ripen at all. I also found I had to hand pollinate in order to get anything to grow. Bugs didn't do it for me. This year I am trying a variety called Little Baby Flower which has a 70 days to maturity written on the packet. We'll see... Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 4:54PM
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I got alot of good info. Sounds like melons might be hit and miss for our part of the country. I am hoping the shorter season melons I am trying will yield a few.

Terry that Tiger Baby sure does look good. I have never heard of that one before. I will try to look for it for next year.
Thanks again

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 11:12AM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

I have babies! All my melons and squash are about two inches now and in a south window. I started them on April 19. All I have to do is pop them in the garden and feed them. If we ever get any warm weather that is! I'll try and get some pics as they grow.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 2:26AM
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Congrats on the babies!

Soon as I get my seeds I am going to start mine indoors too. How long can they stay indoors before they get to big and have to be put out? I know it doesnt take long for them to germinate.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 9:16PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

These little guys won't go out till the last week in May when it is really warm. In the meantime, I will give them some diluted liquid plant starter with their water. I started my cucs today and they will go out at the same time.
They should have a good root system by then. And since they don't like to be transplanted, they are in peat pellets and will go directly into the gound.Here comes the sun!


    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 12:55AM
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Hi there, I am a newish gardener. So... you do plant watermelons indoors, eh? I have some peat pots I could put them in. Last year I grew some from seeds that I bought at an organic food store in Regina. They don't have them anymore and I don't remember the name, but they grew amazingly. They came up to the size of a canteloupe and were sweet. I planted them mid June because I didn't get around to it earlier! Started harvesting on Thanksgiving Monday because it snowed. Some of them could have gone a little longer.

I have saved some seeds so I will plant them this year.

When do you recommend planting them indoors? When outdoors? May long weekend? When do you usually harvest them? Or does it depend of the variety?

Thanks. Sunlover

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 8:38PM
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Well my melons are finally taking off and I am wondering if it is to late. In the beginning of June we had frost warnings and I had transplanted my plants the end of May. They seen many close to freezing nights and they survived! They are just now really starting to leaf out and a few have flowers on them. Dont know if it helped starting them in doors or not. I VOW next year I will not put anything into the garden until June 1!!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 4:22PM
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Pudge 2b

I started some patty pan squash and cucumber this year in peat pots in early May. They germinated quickly and grew, and then, of course, the weather was just so miserable that they couldn't be planted out. So I potted them up - the patty pans went into 6" pots and the cucs into 4". They grew in those pots (in the greenhouse) until early June - I think I finally put them out in the garden on June 12th. They transplanted with no trouble and we're about to have a few patty pans for supper tonight. Cucs are blooming, the largest fruit is about 3" long.

So as long as you are careful, all these plants that 'don't like to be tranplanted' will do just fine growing in larger containers and then planted out when the soil is finally warm enough.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 5:52PM
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Thanks Pudge for the info. I was thinking of doing that next year now I know it will work. I wasnt sure how long you could keep them in pots. I knew the peat pots wasnt a long time.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 12:27PM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

My cucs aren't even blooming yet and this weather isn't helping. I bought nice plants and planted them the may long weekend. They eventually perished in the cool wet weather. Very disappointing as I could have had an earlier crop.

So I replanted about mid-June from plants I got at the local w-mart. They were as small as can be (didn't even have their true leaves yet) but they didn't seem to take any transplant shock, though I just gently popped them out of the pots and into the ground, trying not to disturb the roots too much. That week they grew great in what seemed to be the only warm spell of the summer.

So, they are about a foot long and hopefully ready to branch out soon or at least bloom.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 9:28AM
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Sweet Favorite will ripen here in SE Montana 35 days after setting on. Actually I will let one set on around July 20, and around August 10, let another one set on. and the August 10 melon will still ripen. I have tried the Yellow Doll, but it seems to have a very narrow window of picking and I don't remember getting a ripe one.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 2:29PM
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