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Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Posted by don555 3a (My Page) on
Fri, Jul 5, 13 at 20:11

Every few years I get bitten by the melon-bug and have to give them a try. This year it's watermelons. A cool... make that cold June sure didn't help. Here's how my 2 plants looked on June 27, at maybe 10 cm tall:
 photo Jun2713watermelon.jpg

So that was pretty lame and I figured they didn't have a chance, but I'm doing it mostly for fun anyway. But after that hot weather last week, here they are today, 8 days after the previous pic (the brick is only in there for scale). Still a long shot, but at least they are vines now, and maybe with some more hot weather...
 photo Jul513watermelon1.jpg

Anyone else trying melons, and if so, how are they doing for you?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

I have a cantaloupe that grew from the compost I dug into my garden. It's doing well but I'm going to need to make a decision between it and a tomato plant pretty soon, because they're not both going to grow on the same tomato cage successfully.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

I also was given a cantaloupe plant. Unfortunately it isn't doing very well as I keep forgetting to water it or add it to my drip system.

Interested to see how it does.

SCG


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Sat, Jul 6, 13 at 18:20

I'm trying 75-day Sugar Baby watermelon this year. One planting of 2 seeds. Looks much like yours except not vined out as much. I also had mine covered with Remay earlier in the season to keep the soil warmer. Mine is planted in a raised bed that has quite sandy soil . I've been watering it frequently with warm rain water but I probably should start fertilizing it as the soil in that bed hasn't been amended for a long time.

Which variety is yours?


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Pudge, I'm growing "Yellow Doll", an early variety with yellow flesh instead of red. When I was younger and gardening in Ontario, the yellow watermelons were first to ripen, so I opted to go with them this year. I tried the same variety about 10 years ago and got one melon that sized up but failed to ripen completely. Better luck this year?

BTW, my melons aren't covered with Remay polyester row cover (I had to google it...) The cover I use is something I bought from Vesey's about a decade ago... it is I think a spun-braided polypropylene mini-greenhouse. The formed polypropylene straddles 3 metal hoops and is held in place by tent pegs, forming a tiny hoop-house about 6 feet long and 2 or 3 feet across, by maybe 1.5 or 2 feet tall. This was a wonderful product that Vesey's hasn't carried for years. My remaining mini-greenhouses are nearing their end, but I use them every year to protect and warm the soil for all my big vine crops like squash and pumpkins, and in this case melons. I usually remove the cover by late June for pumpkins and squash, but melons are slower to fill the space so I still have them on the watermelons. Here's a pic to better show what I'm talking about. Assuming the melons do okay, once I remove the cover they can spread from the fence to the beans (the row of spinach near the mini-greenhouse will be harvested in the next few days):
 photo Jul513watermelon2.jpg


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Sun, Jul 7, 13 at 13:39

Yes, I thought that cover looked heavier than what I use ... which could also be Agribon (I have 3 different varieties of the stuff). Last year I grew basil underneath it all summer long and had an amazing crop.

I wonder if a person kept the area of the roots covered with hoops/cloth all season long to provide soil warmth in the root area, would that help? The vines run out from underneath the covering, flowers pollinate, fruit forms, etc. But the planting hole stays covered to keep the root area really warm. I may try this. Where my melon is planted, at the edge of a raised bed, the vines will run on the crushed rock paths but I could keep that root area hooped&covered all season.

The fence behind the melon certainly will benefit the planting. I have a hedge behind mine which stops any cold north wind. I added a short stack of landscape bricks on the north side of it as well - earlier in the season my theory was that they would store a bit of heat and keep the plant a little warmer at night.

Overall the amount of heat that we get this summer will determine success, I think.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

I was given seeds for Minnesota midget cantaloupe. With last weekends gift of hail, I'm down to one tiny leafless plant, and another that was sheltered by a tree - with leaves - to test out.

Many years ago when my kids were toddlers, one plant self sowed in the garden from kitchen scraps - so a grocery store variety. I had the room so I let it be, not having much hope for it. It grew two fruits, I'd catch the kids picking up the little balls to play with, and then they would drop it ( didn't have far to drop at that age). Come autumn dh brought them in, I told him there's no way they'd be ready, they're too small. He cuts them open, prettiest peachy coloured flesh I'd ever seen. I say, oh, they won't be sweet, they're too small. But why do they smell so good, he asks. We then ate them, they were so good and perfect!

For the next few years I intentionally planted them, and struck out each time. So now I'm hoping one self sows again!


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Pudge, I'm quite taken with your idea of leaving the root area around the plants covered all season. The downside might be that watering/fertilizing could be difficult once the vines spread far and wide and make tip-toeing through the vines to access the covered area a problem. Worth exploring though, perhaps even trying to get a melon to grow under the covered area to take maximum advantage of the heat.

Interesting concept for sure. For now, the melon vines have hit the sides of the cover, but I've since redirected them to grow towards parts of the under-cover area that have room for vines still to grow. Won't be long now though until the cover has to come off, or at least the vines need to spread beyond the confines of the cover.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 12, 13 at 14:04

I've got mine covered - it will be a fun experiment. I am also wondering if the developing fruit would also benefit from the heat. I don't think I'll be able to manage that.

I've had a couple of blooms, one tiny little melon that probably was not pollinated but I'm leaving it on there just in case.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Mine has flower buds, but they are still a week or two away from blooming. I'd like to get fruit set by the end of July to have some hope of ripe melons by year's end.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Don regarding watering and fertilizing you can run drip irrigation lines into the bottom of a 5 gal bucket ( well sides at bottom ). I also used 1 gal milk jugs before I got my far plants on my system. Couple of emitters and some line and your in business. Then you can keep the roots covered. Just an idea.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Thanks for the tips. Might set up a drip hose under the cover and run as needed.

11 days since my last photo, and the vines have now filled the enclosure. Have buds, but still nowhere near flowering. Brick still in there for scale:
 photo Jul1613watermelon.jpg

I remember reading (and expeiencing myself) that tomatoes don't flower well under plastic. I wonder if that could be the same for melons? I'll have to keep an eye on that and remove the cover to encourage flowers if I think that's needed. Today though, I've doubled it up to give those vines more room :)
 photo Jul1613watermelon2.jpg


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Turns out they were pretty close to flowering. The male flowers started a few days after my last post. Had the first 4 female flowers today. I tried hand pollinating them, now am leaving the cover off for a few hours so the insects can find them in case I did a lousy job. Will have to start removing the cover in the morning and leaving it off until early afternoon until I see some fruit set.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

I grow sweet potatoes, which are just as heat-demanding as melons. I do the same thing as pudge - I leave the row covers on all season long, even on hot days. It really makes a difference when their rooting area is warm. Saskatchewan summers are so cool and short, I wonder how I ever managed without covers before.

Don,
If you throw a large blanket over your covers every night starting in late August, you can prolong the melon ripening time to early October or beyond.

This post was edited by Slimy_Okra on Wed, Jul 24, 13 at 23:55


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Someone was asking on the rose forum about using lava rocks for mulch. Responses were that in some cases the lava rocks stored so much heat they cooked the roots of the roses. So I was thinking if is this something we could use around melons to help store heat. Thoughts?


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 1, 13 at 16:13

I'm losing hope fast that anything will materialize. My watermelon has graced me with only 2 female flowers that did not get pollinated, and the rest of the flowers have been male. We've had some pretty cool nights around 6C, tomorrow night again is forecasted for 7C. Daytime temps have been just around 20C with a fair bit of cloud lately. Not holding my breath for watermelon :(


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Pudge, I'm sharing your pain. My 2 plants have had about 15 female blossoms, but despite my best efforts at hand-pollinating, none seem to have taken. And I even got out a 10X magnifier for all my hand-pollination efforts and made sure my Q-tip had pollen on it before brushing the pollen on the female blossoms... still nothing.

A couple days ago I gave up. Plants are now uncovered to see if nature can accomplish what I couldn't. But time and hope are starting to run out....


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

What a crappy summer. Add this to the long list of crappy summers in the past decade: 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010. Here's hoping that 2014 turns out NORMAL at least...


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Five more female blossoms today (and about two dozen male flowers). Got out the Q-tip again plus left things uncovered in case insects want to have a try too. Hope springs eternal.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Here's my patch on August 2. The vines fill the double-enclosure now.
 photo IMG_3801.jpg


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Hmm, I may, just may, be getting some fruit to set now. Still too early to be certain, but up until now none of the female flowers that I tried to pollinate got melons to even marble-size before dropping the tiny fruit. One or two are now the size of large grapes, so that's encouraging but not yet convincing.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

I finally have both male and female flowers at the same time. I tried pollinating last week with a half spent male. I may try pollinating although there are lots of bees. Lets keep the faith!


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Hope the bees work for you, the only insects I've seen around mine are ants :(

On the plus side, I'm pretty certain that one or more were successfully pollinated. The biggest is now pretty close to ping-pong ball size. They could still shrivel and drop I suppose, but if that were the case then it would be too late for a second shot, so I'm going to assume I have one or more small melons forming. Yesterday, (Aug. 11), I covered the whole area up with the double polypropylene cover again (which involved a lot of carefully threading vines over one-another so they would all fit under the cover, as they really spread out over the past week or so.

Not sure if this is the best approach or not, but it's certainly keeping me entertained :)


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

LOL as long as your entertained I guess it is a good thing.

My plant is directly below my annual flower garden so I hope the bees take care of it. These suckers better plan to grow fast!!!


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Well my plant finally started to go insane. I have about 15 grape sized melons and it is flowering better than my clematis. Why could it not have done this in June?


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

It may be getting late, but better late than never! I peeked under one side of my plastic cover today.... :)
 photo Aug1813Watermelon.jpg

This post was edited by don555 on Mon, Aug 19, 13 at 4:22


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

nice I am still looking at grapes but I am also putting no effort into it lol..

Hope you get that fruit!!!


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Mine went from grapes to baseballs in one week, so be patient! You have the advantage of a warmer zone 4/5 climate, so I think it's looking good for you.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Don, that is just the cutest thing!

I have no doubt that it'll be plenty big within the next month.

You still have plenty of time :)

Looking forward to more pictures as it grows.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 20, 13 at 9:04

I was preparing to pull & toss my watermelon plant but lo and behold, yesterday I found one fruit has grown to about grapefruit size. It is misshapen because it became lodged between a log and a brick but I think it'll be ok. Another fruit is golfball size. The heat and sunshine this past week has certainly helped the garden.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

My hopes are high. I am avoiding looking hoping for a surprise.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Good to hear others are getting some melons too! Here's the latest on mine, a week after the previous photo. Getting bigger but I don't think full-size yet. This is a variety that produces very small melons, about canteloupe size. (It's sitting on a small bit of newspaper BTW, not a full sheet.) I can see at least one other one under there (similar size) by peeking under the cover, and I suspect there are two more but I haven't pulled back the cover to make certain. The force of the vines under the cover is slowly pushing the whole thing up.
 photo IMG_4510.jpg


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Nice, I bet you will have time for that one to ripen. None of the 15 grape sized melons lasted in my garden and I am going to shovel prune the plant today. Maybe next year....

Keep us posted.

*edit* went out to shovel prune and found an apple sized fruit....there still may be hope.....

SCG

This post was edited by SouthCountryGuy on Fri, Aug 30, 13 at 10:52


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Sun, Sep 1, 13 at 22:50

I have 2 melons of equal size. The later one quickly caught up in size to the earlier one but neither seem to be growing much bigger than say a large grapefruit or so. Now to figure out when they are ready to pick...


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Has to happen late season..... I have about 10 grape size fruit, yeah again, 2 about baseball size and many flowers...going to clip all back and see what i get...so much fun lol


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

I uncovered my plants today for the first time in over 3 weeks, with a mix of good and bad news. For the good news, there are 7 watermelons. For the bad, the high humidity under the cover has encouraged some kind of disease so a number of leaves have died, a few stems too, including one leading to one of the smaller melons. So now I'm going to have to leave the patch uncovered for the rest of the season and hope for the best. If you go by the "shrivelled tendril next to the melon" method to indicate ripeness, none of them are even close. But I think the biggest two are now full-size at least. Some pics:

The melon patch (tough light with part in sun, part in shade. It's about 5-6 feet long by 4-5 ft. across:
 photo Sep213MelonPatch.jpg

The melon I've shown in other photos, now probably full-size:
 photo Sep213MelonInMostPics.jpg

Probably the biggest melon:
 photo Sep213biggestMelon.jpg

A double header:
 photo Sep213DoubleMelon.jpg


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Don, those are awesome.

Could you cover your babies just overnight to keep them warmer?

We're having really hot days, but the nights are getting cooler.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Will he make it, will he make it? :)

Anyone picked yet, and if so, how did they do?

 photo Sep1213watermelon1.jpg


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Looks great! I think I killed mine with neglect. My girls, copying me, moved the drip irrigation to another plant and I didn't notice for upwards of two very hot weeks. The foliage was all wilted and dead looking and the melon hasn't grown much. Think this year is toast for this hombre.

SCG


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 13, 13 at 21:24

We ate one; the tendril had dried and it had a resounding 'thump'. The flesh was not very pink although still quite sweet, and nice and crisp, really juicy. I refrigerated it for a few hours before eating. I think I will try them again next year but perhaps more plants and give them a whole raised bed with well amended soil and good cover early on. Maybe plant some early blooming annuals close by to attract the bees. For the rather crappy soil and location I gave this plant this year, I'm rather impressed that it put out any fruit at all.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

SCG, sorry to hear yours dried and died. I bet with some TLC you would be able to produce a melon no problem.

Pudge, thanks for the warning about the dry tendril and thump not being foolproof indicators of full ripeness. I have one in that very category that I was mulling over whether to pick. We have another few hot days in the forecast before a substantial chill, so I think I'll give it those few extra hot days before I pick.


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Picked the first one today! Being yellow-fleshed instead of pink seems a bit odd, but the taste is identical to a "regular" watermelon. Weight on this was 2.0 kg. It was the most advanced melon, there are still 5 more to go but I don't know how many, if any, will ripen now that we are in the second half of September.
 photo Sep1613Watermelon2.jpg

 photo Sep1613Watermeloncut.jpg


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Picked the second one on Sep. 23 -- so tasty! -- at least one more is ripe also, maybe more. Still have an ingrained perception that watermelons should be red when ripe, not pale-yellow like with Yellow Doll. Must be some genetic connection between early ripening and pale yellow colour.... Cream of Saskatchewan would fall into that category too.

Anyway, the most recent watermelon, at 2 kg for the whole melon...
 photo Sep2313melon.jpg


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Well, what the heck... the melon below was picked in late September, but I extracted some melon-balls from it before I got around to taking a photo. This melon was also 2.0 kg, exactly like the previous two.

I've now warmed up to the pale yellow watermelon flesh, which seems sweeter than red-melons I can buy in the store. My daughter says she prefers the yellows to the reds.
 photo Sep2813melon.jpg


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

And on Oct. 1, I picked this yellow watermelon, which makes number 4. This one was a bit smaller, at 1.3 kg or around 3 lbs. But so tasty!

Two melons still remain on the vine. One is ripe I'm pretty sure, but the other needs a bit more time.

I've now grown rather fond of the yellow watermelons... I may well be growing these again next year!!
 photo Oct113melon.jpg


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

*standing up applauding your successes*

Sorry, SCG.......hope you try again next year. :-)


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

Hey, thanks!

I guess I should finish this thread with what happened to melons #5 and #6...

Here is melon #5, picked Oct. 6, a bit smaller than the previous melons, at 1.6 kg. Surprisingly still no killing frost in Edmonton, but numerous light frosts that I dealt with by covering with old sheets.
 photo Oct710Watermelon5.jpg

And here's the last of the last, watermelon #6, picked Oct. 11 but not cut open until Oct. 14. At 2.3 kg, this was the biggest melon all season (though only by 15%).

I really didn't expect this one to ripen as the weather had turned cold, plus the frosts were getting heavier and had killed the vines and darkened the top of this melon. You can see that the seeds didn't ripen in this one, yet the flesh did, and the taste and sweetness was the same as all the other melons. I don't know if it is only yellow melons that do this or whether the red watermelons are able to as well, but from my limited experience as a backyard watermelon grower in Ontario many years ago, I don't recall the red watermelons ripening at all once the cooler September weather set in.
 photo Oct1413lastwatermelonno6.jpg

The watermelons required a lot more fussing compared to something like pumpkins or squash, but wow, it really paid off in the end!


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RE: Anyone else growing melons in 2013?

We got a package of Hybrid Alaska cantaloup seeds from Lindenberg Seeds.

Started the plants indoors in early May, and carefully transplanted them into 3 liter black plastic motor oil jugs (carefully cleaned). I wanted black plastic so the soil would warm up in the sun. I kept them against a warm wall outside in the full sun as much as possible, and in a south facing window when the weather was bad.

Mid June we transplanted the cantalope from the oil jugs into a tire raised bed. Had to cover them once for frost warning. Otherwise they had to fight it out. I used a mixture of compost and garden soil in the tire.

They sat there and didn't do much, so I gave them a weekly watering of Miracle Grow fertilizer, which seemed to perk them up. But they really didn't like the cold of July, when we got another frost warning - and covered them again. They were trying to blossom, but I noticed the little fruit turned yellow and dropped off.

Finally, in August they started growing, and it was so late! Poor things. The blossoms started setting and making tiny fruit. I noticed one fruit had set earlier, so it started sizing up. We watched it with hopeful anticipation. It actually matured before the fall frost hit. I covered the plants every night, but without heat the plants died back pretty quickly.

The fruit was small, about the size of a soft ball, but incredbly sweet and flavorful. It was worth all the trouble to tast a "real" honest-to-goodness homegrown cantalope. Nothing at all like the commercial ones you find in the store.

Here's a photo of our little jewel, that stuggled so valiantly against such odds. Definitely will try again this coming year!


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