fertilizing corn, muskmelon, & watermelon

plaidthumbJune 14, 2005

Finally, some rain!! Most of it has been going around us lately. It sure has helped.

Been killing time reading through a number of these forums looking for answers, but just creating more questions...

I've searched the logical forums for these and not found answers. Or the answers I found just created more questions.

First batch of sweet corn is about waste high. Is it too late to side dress it? If I understand what I'm reading, it needs extra Nitrogen? Would grass clippings work, or do they take away the nitrogen as they break down? How about dried manure? If I can do it with what I have around, it's cheaper.

The Watermelon (Bush Sugar Baby) and muskemelon (Honey Bun Hybrid) planted in topsoil/composted manure mixture are really taking off and looking good. (The watermelon planted in pile of last year's wood chips aren't flourishing, though--hey-you don't know if you don't try...) When do I need to fertilize these and with what?

I've never used fertilizer before other than Millorganite that was given to me. (I think that's what it's called. I'm too lazy to go out to the shed to look)

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.


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Yup, corn and squash are heavy feeders and can take up a lot of space. That's why native farmers used to grow corn, beans and squash together and then mix it together at harvest. Wahla, instant succotash!
I tend to rely on organic methods, so I'd go with the composted manure if you have it. In fact, you might make manure tea (Yup, sounds weird, but it works!) by forming a "tea bag" out of some muslin or gauze, filling the tea bag with manure, and submerging the bag overnight in a bucket of water. Use the "tea" to water your corn.
You could also get some commercial fish emulsion and use that according to package directions.
Native Americans used fish in their blocks of corn, beans, and squash and I've had great luck with emulsion and manure tea. You, too, can plant green beans along with the corn and squash and they'll help feed the corn and squash. Just pop in a few new bean seeds every week or two to keep your harvest going. The corn also shades the squash and beans a bit, which helps in mid summer.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 8:29AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I generally don't feed my veggies. Instead I "feed the soil" by adding compost to it every year. If anything needs fed (like maybe because I didn't get around to adding compost to that area in the off-season), it gets either compost tea, liquid seaweed or liquid fish emulsion.

If the weather is especially hard on the tomatoes, as this year's drought has been here in southern Oklahoma, I'll feed my tomatoes with a rabbit-manure based fertilizer from Rabbit Hill Farms.

And, I do interplant winter squash and pumpkins with my corn. It helps keep the raccoons out of the corn. One year I did plant a "three sisters" garden of corn, pole beans and pumpkins, but planted the beans before the corn was very tall, and the beans spent the whole summer trying to outgrow the corn and strangle it. (That was my own fault, of course, for not letting the corn get taller before planting the pole beans.)

And, you know, if the plants are growing well, are a good healthy green color, and are blooming properly and setting fruit, they may not need to be fed at all.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 2:41PM
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OKC1--you mean it's not too late to plant beans and squash? How about if I replace squash w/punkins? Do I plant between the rows of corn, or in between stalks? And just plug some beans in each week or two? Do they grow to maturity, or just help the corn?
Lots a questions, huh? Ya'll are great for helping us dense ones figure things out. Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 11:10PM
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I've not planted pole beans between corn stalks, just squash and regular green beans, but it works, sure. May be a little late for winter squash, but you can still plant the beans and may get away with a couple hills of zuchinni. In fact, planting beans every week all summer is a pretty good idea because they have a fairly short season. Once you get two or three pickings off the beans, they will peter out. So, if you have new ones coming up to replace them, all is good. Do you have your corn set up so you can flood irrigate between the rows within the block? You might google companion planting as there are several things you can plant all together that help one another out and some things you definately don't want to plant together. Used to be a few good gardening books out about companion planting and the organic encyclopedia used to contain some good info on the concept.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 6:54AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

You can plant the bush beans wherever they will get enough sun to produce flowers/beans. If you plant them where the corn shades them heavily, they may not produce beans., so I plant mine on the sunniest edge of the corn patch. For pole beans, when used as companion plants, there are many ways to do it. In general, most people who plant a "Three Sisters" garden will space the corn further apart than usual to allow room for beans to be planted next to some, but not all, of the corn stalks. You can find lots of descriptions of "three sister" gardening by googling "companion planting" or "three sisters".

Like OKC1 said above, it is probably too late to plant most all winter squash and still get fruit at this point, as many of them well take in excess of 100 days to mature fruit, and probably at least 120 days. You can still plant pumpkins which are, technically, a squash. Just choose the ones with the shortest 'days to maturity' that you can find.

Some pumpkins and their general days to maturity are listed below. I have found that many, though not all, pumpkins seem to mature faster than their official DTM in our climate.

Neon 70 days
Lumina 80 days
Renees's Garden Seeds Holiday Mix of Mini-Jacks and Autumn Golds matures in 80-90 days
Wee-B-Little 85 days
Jack-B-Little 85 days
Racer 85 days
Cheyene 80-90 days
Cornfield 90 days
Baby Boo 90 days
Casper 90 days
Harvst Moon 90 days
Jack of all Trades 90 day
Rocket 95 days
SnackJack 95 Days
Spooktacular 95 days
Aspen 95 days
Small Sugar Pumpkin 95 day
Spirit 95 days
Aspen 95 days
Autumn Gold 98-100 days
Orange Smoothie 99-100 days
Baby Pam 100 days
Connecticut Field 100 days
Howden 105 days
Big Max 105 days
Atlantic Giant 120 days
Cushaw Green-Striped 120 days

I have planted pumpkin seed as late as July 4th and still gotten pumpkins, esp. from Small Sugar Pie and from the heirloom plants Amish Pie and Seminole. A lot of it just depends on when your first frost occurs in any given year.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 7:42AM
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