Moon and Stars with very small melons

gretzky(5)August 8, 2005

Hi everyone. I posted this over in the vegetable forum, but well I guess it might be more appropriate here. The message as posted is below. I haven't grown Moon and Stars watermelon before, and what I'm really confused about is why I don't have larger melons this late in the year, especially when these were started about six weeks ahead of time indoors. Anyway, if anyone has any comments about things, please do let me know. I do mention a hybrid seedless below as well, but I'm really more concerned with the moon and stars. Thanks in advance!

Mark

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Hey all, I have a question regarding watermelons. I have two plants going this year, one is an heirloom Moon and Stars and one is a seedless hybrid called honeypot. I have vines ALL over the place, but so far only quarter sized melons on the moon and stars. Have not found any melons on the seedless to date. I have them on two hills planted close enough that the vines are mingling for the pollination of the seedless. I've seen plenty of bees and other pollinators around. I'm confused as to why I have such small watermelons this late in the season. I've grown other varieties before with lots of success, but never have tried either of these. I have a good well drained, slighty sandy soil and started both of these plants indoors about 6 weeks before last frost. Plants were out in the garden by around May 15th.

So...any thoughts as to why I have all this foliage but so few and such small melons? I didn't fertilize these plants at all, so no extra nitrogen. I know the moon and stars are long season, but I thought starting them inside would help. I'm a bit worried about them making it before the first frost!

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jamie_e(4)

Good question...

I have a similar story. I planted Blacktail Mountain watermelon as well as a Charentais melon. The Charentais is growing like crazy and I have quite a few melons. The Blacktail Mountain on the other hand is putting out a lot of vines and flowers but I have only been able to find one watermelon and it is not all that big either.

Jamie

    Bookmark   August 8, 2005 at 9:34PM
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jackman(7-TN)

Here in west TN.I had the same on 3 plants,the fourth one has 5 on it.Only thing I know is I sprayed seven for Cumcumber beetles.The 4th plant was later than the other 3 vines.So maybe I got more bee's on that one.The CB'S this year was terrible.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 10:09AM
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reign(z5 NY)

Mark - are you growing on plastic? My first thought was that this year, May 15th was to cold for my watermelons to go out. I'm not sure the soil would have been warm enough for yours. Is it possible they ended up setback and took a long time to recover? With plastic down, it was the first week of June before my soil was warm enough.

When did the vines start flowering? Female flowers? How long have the quarter size melons been there? Are they growing or staying that size.

If they seemed to produce female flowers on time, then it could be pollinators were late getting into the game. Did you use pesticides that would have kept the good bugs away for a bit?

If they didn't flower until late, maybe it is a nutrition.

Of course these are WAGs (wild a%^ guesses).

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 1:44PM
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bill_southerncal(10 So.Cal)

Mark,

I am not much of a watermelon grower. Our local climate is too cool. This fruit excels in Texas, Arizona, and throught the areas where it's really hot. Where you are (Iowa) that's not a problem. I have some friends that have grown Moon and Stars and love them.

You didn't mention diseases at all so I'm assuming the plants are healthy and leave this out of the discussion. Definitely lack of pollinators would've been another of my guesses if you've had lots of flowers but only small and few fruit. Excess nitrogen would be another. You said you didn't fertilize this year, but if you had excessive nitrogren last year, it could carry over into this year. So, once you've eliminated those, one other possibility is overcrowding. These plants seem to love their space. I know one woman who grew two individual seedlings spaced 5' apart. Not a lot of vegetation, but each plant had about 4 melons, the ones closest to the base were about 8-10 lbs, the others smaller.

In our cool coastal climate (78 deg high average for July and August) that was impressive. She said was that it took over 100 days from setting the seedling in to picking the first melon. She did fertilize with a 15-30-15 fertlizer (K-Mart generic version of Miracle Grow). Also, I am assuming you have full sun exposure because it needs it. Other than that, I don't know what else it could be.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 9:49AM
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gretzky(5)

Thanks for the suggestions from everyone above. To be honest, I don't know when they started flowering, although I think it may have been during the week we were gone on vacation, which was the week of July 4th. I don't know if they were female flowers or not...how does one tell the difference? After my initial posting, I have noticed quite a change in the size of the melons. I now have some close to softball size. I began watering extra when I saw the melons coming and last night we had a good 1.5 inches of rain. I had already been watering regularly, so I don't think that was the problem.

I think it was one of two things pointed out above, or a combination...either lack of early season pollinators (didn't really see a lot of bees around until some of my coneflowers etc got going really well) or the crowding issue. I have them spaced well away (~25 ft) from my cantaloupes, but the vines have all run together and have been that way for some time. I had no idea that the moon and stars vines were so long...they have taken over the back half of my garden and are invading my kohlrabi at the moment, lol! I have plenty of full sized cantaloupe and even now have melons on the seedless hybrid, but I think it may have been a case of too much in too small of an area. Much as I love the idea of an heirloom watermelon, I may have to jump back to something like crimson sweet which doesn't go as crazy.

Oh, and yep they get full sun and I generally don't put down any fertilizer at all. I think three years ago I did a light application of 10-10-10 before I knew what the soil was like, but haven't since. All the vines appear very healthy and I have seen no insect damage, except to one small melon which had a hole chewed in the rind. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed for a late frost this year...I guess there's no sense in worrying as there's nothing I can do, but I can definitely try to be more space conscience next year. My wife won't let me tear up anymore of the yard for the garden, either. *sigh* Something about the child needing room to play or some such...heh heh. Thanks again to everyone for their thoughts.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 1:36PM
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trudyjean82(z8SWGA)

At least you have some small M&S melon, I don't have any. My situation is like yours, planted out earlier from indoor seedlings, not much fertilizer, all blooms, plenty of bees t polinate but no fruit. My banana melons are doing great, as is the cantalope. Does this melon not like it this far south? trudyjean

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 8:20PM
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AdelJeff(z5 IA)

Hello Gretzky,
Have your melons taken off by now? Mine are from 15 to 30 lbs and are looking great. Hope yours took off also?
Jeff

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 2:25PM
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ceesiren(z8 PNW)

I live in the Portland Oregon area and I also have tiny melons... watermelon, honeydew and cantelope. From 2 watermelon plants, I got 4 melons (not sure of the variety, but they weren't miniature or seedless) and I've harvested 2 even though they are the size of a softball. I ate one last night and it was juicy & sweet, so I guess it was ripe. I have 2 honeydews about the size of tennis balls and obviously not ready to harvest and 4 cantelopes a little bigger than baseballs. I've harvested one that looked ripe and it was sweet and juicy.

There were tons of flowers and bees, so I expected more fruit, but some is better than none (we had a very cool summer that was very wet early and then completely dry for about 6 wks, but I watered often). These melons were planted in raised beds next to cukes, zuchs and tomatoes... could they have cross-pollinated with zuchs or cukes or tomatoes? Would that make them tiny?

Thanks for any thoughts on this.

Carol

    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 6:54PM
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