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Watermelon and winter squash in AK?

Posted by jrypka Alaska Z3 (My Page) on
Sat, Feb 19, 11 at 14:47

I live in SC AK and am wanting to try watermelons, cantaloupe, and winter squash this year. Last frost is typically about 6/7 and first frost about 9/15 or so. We get only a handful of days in the 70s, otherwise 60s are typical daytime highs. I had good luck last summer with tomatoes and cucumbers in my high tunnel. However, I don't want to allot enough of that precious space for these plants in the HT, so I am thinking about putting up a raised bed and low tunnel.

Here is my plan as of now: Start the seeds about May 7th inside in 4" pots, 2 seeds to a pot. Transplant into the garden June 21 (two weeks after frost) in low tunnel raised beds 4' wide with 2' between transplants. Irrigate with drip tape, cover with plastic mulch.

Do you think this has any chance of succes, or how would you tweak this plan? I know 6 weeks is very early to start inside, but that gives me about 110 days until frost so I think I need to start that early, especially for the butternut squash. Maybe I should start in 6" pots to give enough room for that much time? I was easily reaching 100deg on sunny days last year in my HT so I don't think daytime temps will be a problem (I can open low tunnels for ventilation if too hot/wet) However, it typically gets to 50deg or less on clear evenings in July and Aug, and the HT last year only gave me about a +4 temp increase overnight, so I am worried night temps might be too low for this to work. I may try to cover with row cover for clear cold nights.

I think I'm going to try this regardless, but I'd be interested to hear if you folks think it has any chance of succeeding or can give me better advice. Thanks! -jr

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Watermelon and winter squash in AK?

I had good luck in Massachusetts's short summers with small canteloupes and small melons -- Jenny Lind and Yellow Doll IIRC 10-12 years later.

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