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What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Posted by scbshell 7 (My Page) on
Fri, May 6, 05 at 8:12

I'd like to try and grow a sweet tasting heirloom melon. I don't have a huge garden space to grow in. I know things like pumpkins and watermelons end up needing a lot of space.

Do you have any suggestions? Also, any suggestions on a good source for seeds?

Thanks so much!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Fastbreak melons are super easy, productive and early. You can get seed at pinetree gardens, other sources too. Not sure if they're heirloom or just OP. Is there a difference, I wonder?


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Edem's Gem and other small melons are easy to grow, and can be trellised in small gardens so they don't sprawl all over the place.

Indeed, even larger melons can be trellised, but you have to individually support the fruit to keep it's weight from dragging everything down.

Violet Skies: The difference between OPs as a class and Heirlooms as a class is time in grade. The general definition for heirlooms is that they have been around for at least 50 years. There are other definitions used (such as using 1940 as a cut-off date), but they all include the element of time.

Thus, while all heirlooms are open pollinated, not all OPs are heirlooms.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Gotcha. Good to know!


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

The Charantais melon might not be the easiest, but it may be the best, a true culinary experience..........they are a small french melon, very sweet, deep orange flesh, they usually get to about 2 lbs. They do not 'slip' from vine and need to be cut off when ripe, so it might be a good subject for training vertically.

Optimal harvest time is critical...................a charentais melon stays at its peak flavor and texture for only a few hours!

80 days to harvest, stop watering a few weeks before harvest. Harvest when the small leaf attached to the vine at the same place as the fruit turns pale, when the melon smalls fragrant, and the netlike markings on the skin have turned from green to tan, before its green skin shows signs of orange. Smell and color are the best ways we have found to determine if a melon that does not slip is ripe. (Slip is the term used when the melon releases itself from the stem when ripe, some do and some don't.) I have found that its really not that difficult with a little attention. You'll quickly catch on if your first melon is over or under ripe when you pick it and make the necessary adjustments to the following melons. That's why its so important for us to grow our own or buy at the farmers markets where the growers pay attention to real goodness.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

I had good results with Eden's Gem two yrs. ago. Great production, early, with a nice sweet flavor. The fruits are quite small(a little below softball size) and they have a green flesh.

Noir des Carmes is another that did well, was productive, and on the early side. Very nice flavor.

If you get good summer heat, and have decent well drained soil, melons should do well for you.
The earlier-ripening varieties may have shorter vines?

Douglas


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Melons aren't that easy to grow because they need temps averaging 80 degrees (hi and lo avg.) to do well. As someone else pointed out, they also need rich well-drained soil, and don't like their leaves wet. In my climate, hybrids - particularly Butterscotch Sweetie and Ambrosia - do well even when it's slightly cooler than that. With heirlooms and OPs, the easiest for me to grow are Haogen, a very fragrant and sweet Israeli melon, Charentais, the French standby that it a great dessert by itself or topped with vanilla ice cream, and the earliest heirloom is the green fleshed Galia. I use black plastic mulch because I need all the heat I can get in my coastal So. CA climate (high temps are only 82 deg. in August). The earlier the variety, the easier to grow, in general. Also, you have to know which specific gardening issues/problems are in your area. If other gardeners, for example, have problems with Powdery Mildew or Fusarium, you may want to seek out disease resistant strains.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Bill,

You seem to know a lot about melons. I would like to try and grow the charentais variety this year. After tasting one in France other melons don't quite live up to its sweet taste and aroma. My husband has never tasted one and I would like to grow some this year so we both can enjoy it.

Where can I find seeds? Is it too late to start from seeds now? What would be the best soil condition in the S. Cal coastal region.

Thank you.
Green


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Bill
I grow Ambrosia because I have never found a heirloom that taste as good.Do you know of any?


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Which heirloom melons have you tried, Jackman?


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

I can't remember I have not grown them for so long,but Hale's best is one.At my little vegie stand the people want the Ambrosia,and say they never tasted a melon so good.That is what I have found.I would like to grow heirlooms,but don't know which one.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Green: In what city do you live? Charentais melon seeds are available wherever they have a good supply of Renee's Garden Seeds (She is Renee Shepherd, affiliated with Shepherd Seeds). With this variety, it is hit or miss at Armstrong and a lot of places. But last Saturday, I bought a packet in a nursery whose name escapes me. It's Anaheim off Ball going east about a mile from the 57. M&M Nursery in Orange also carries Renees seeds, as does Roger Gardens in Corona Del Mar and Huntington Gardens in Hunt. Beach.

I have planted Charentais as late as July 15 for a second harvest in October. Usually I plant in mid April, and because of the cool springs it takes about 90-100 days. Before harvest, I start 4-5 seeds in a 4" pot so that they are plantable by mid July. The ones planted in July take about 2 weeks less to mature and they actually taste sweeter because of the intense August and Sept. sun.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Green: My mistake, the Charentais seeds I bought were from Botanical Interests seed company. They are available online as well, and there are hybrid versions, too with some disease resistance. When I briefly lived back East, Hales best was not as good as the ones grown in California. These OP and heirloom "western" melon types originated from the middle east, and really do not like humid conditions as much as arid. That may be why most of the melon farmers I see in the east and Florida grow hybrids or OP/heirlooms that are known to succeed in their area, such as Burpee Hybrids, Ambrosia, etc.

Jackman: You may want to check out your agricultrual extension service to see what varieties do well there in TN. If they have not tried heirlooms, you might just want to try several others here have suggested. YOur window of opportunity isn't very long with heat loving melons, so might as well as buy maybe five types of seeds and try a few of each.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Thanks for the information Bill. I live in Long Beach and tried finding some seeds at Armstrong but they didn't have any. Renee's seeds had a mix variety pack of melons but none of them were charentais. I will check out the other garden centers you mentioned. If you happened to remember the name of the one in Anaheim please let me know.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Anyone with experience with the "vedrantais" heirloom? I read this comes from Italy and is a charentais type of melon (perhaps maybe more adaptable to So.Cal?).


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

I would like to taste a ripe Vedrantais :). I failed to get one last season. It requires such a LONG season. I couldn't pull it off :(


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Two of the finest tasting melons I've grown are Charentais and Petit Gris de Rennes. If you can grow either of these to perfection, they will be hard to beat for taste IMO.
Last year was a very poor melon year for me. This year I got a late start, and am not counting on much.
In a good year here, I should be able to get the two above to ripen. The Charentais ripened earlier than the Petit Gris de Rennes did, when I grew these two yrs. ago.

Douglas(who wishes he would have planted his melons earlier this year, and not as an afterthought)


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Douglas - I have to agree with you on those two! For cantaloupes - Petit Gris de Rennes, Charentais and Noir Des Carmes always make my planting list. After those, I stare at my seed list trying to decide which new melons will get a go.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Green: It's called Batavia Gardens, couldn't remember the name but I checked my credit card statements. From LB you could get on 22 East to 57 North, get off on Ball, turn right and after one mile, you'll be there.

http://smartpages.com/home/bataviagar99889273?Mode=Map

I did not get the last packet, so hopefully there are still some there. The seed company is Botanical interest. I think that the three packet melon seeds from Renees has Galia, the green fleshed melon (see below). I love it as much as I do Charentais. It's earlier, too and bigger. The seeds are dyed, so I toss out the other two which are fine melons themselves. But I'm real picky.

In a crunch, Vedrantais is available in some nurseries because it's packaged by Ferry Morse or one of the other long time seed companies, but it's also hit or miss in availability. It is similar in taste to Charentais, though I think it has added disease resistance and matures later. The other versions of Charentais, including the Burpee hybrid Honey Girl, are fine as well. But I like growing the original.

Southern Cal has been in a cooler than usual spring for two months. We're supposed to be in the high 70s and it's been stuck at 68-72 at John Wayne airport for weeks. Hopefully it'll get warmer, though I admit it's nice not to be sweating from the heat at night.

Doug: Oh no! At least you have some planted, right? I haven't tried the PDGR. I only allow myself one "experimental" melon a year. This year, I decided to go with Montreal Melon which failed last year due to cucumber mosaic virus. It also may not be warm enough where I am, at least to get near the size and sweetness that reportedly they need as they ripen. I've been in Montreal in hot summers, and past noon, I end up in my air conditioned hotel room or underground malls until night.

There are some heirloom melons that I love as much as Charentais, and does well in cooler climates: Haogen from Isreal for one. It'll drive you insane with its fragrance as it matures. It's a green fleshed melon with spicy, pineapply overtones. When it's happy, the smooth skinned green and gold skinned melon is very sweet and overall fantastic, but it's sometimes inconsistent. I know they'll do well in a drier environment, and am not sure how they'll perform in a hot, humid area. Galia is a Mediterranean green fleshed and green skinned netted early variety. It is the earliest of my big three (along with Galia and Charentais). You don't find too many places that carry the heirloom. It's much easier to find the hybrids such as Passport which matures in 70 days. My favorite is the unique Burpee hybrid called "Vanilla Ice". It had the highest sugar content of any melon when I grew it a few years back. It's got the Galia parentage but almost looks like a Jaune Canary/Casaba in appearance.

For others who still want to plant melons, pick an early maturing variety. And consider this: To speed things up even more, I soak the seeds in warm water overnight, and then place the seeds neatly arranged on a wet napkin in a pie pan. I cover the pie pan with stretchable plastic wrap tightly, and set it in a warm place (like in an oven if you have gas and pilot light). In a few days, the embryo starts peeking out and I get them in soil immediately. Be careful how you handle the seeds. I gingerly drop each seed on the soil and cover it with potting soil 1/2" to 3/4" inch deep and lightly tamp down on the soil. I water immediately, and make sure the soil stays moist till they come up. (I use my finger tip, wet it, and place my finger on top of the seed til it sticks, and shake the seed off onto the soil. Just don't disturb the embryo)


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

To Green, Douglas, Reign, and others:

My charentais melons are just over a foot long and there are some blossoms starting to form. The Galias are over two feet long and have lots of blossoms and little tiny fruit. Seedlings of Edem Gem and Ambrosia (not heirloom) bought at a nursery two months ago have golf ball to baseball size fruit on them. If all goes well, they'll be harvested by July 4 and I will get to plant the second batch, which will include a few of each of Jenny Lind, Montreal Melon, Charentais, Haogen.

With all this talk about Charentais, I was at the local farmers market and one vendor was selling Charentais melons. The growers are from the Imperial Valley where they have 70-80 deg. temps in February and can start harvesting melons in late May. Actually, I saw them last week, but at not even a pound at $3 each (2 for $5), I took one (maybe two LOL) of the free samples and walked on. This week, they were more like 1.5 pounds and more fragrant. And wow, it was outstanding. Firm and juicy, fragrant, and it was definitely worth the price of a Big Mac! The rest of the customers were buying Hales Best from these and several others, which were great (I ate one sample - or was it two?). But at the local grocery stores, they're selling Hales Best types (from AZ) for as low as 3 lbs. for $1, and they were excellent, too. At the specialty stores, they were selling Galia, Sharlyn, Persian, and Gaya (Japanese) and Han mei (Asian) melons for 99 cents a pound (all grown in Mexico - not organically either).


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Bill have you grown Ambrosia before?If not,please let me know what you think.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Mine are coming along. Last week was cool and rainy. Today starts a nice warm spell. With all this talk about Ambrosia, I popped over to a nursery and got the last six pack they had. It was on sale! Now I'll have to remove the "No Hybrids Allowed" sign from the garden gate.

I ate two melons this weekend. The first came from the nursery. If I hadn't been looking at it, I would have never known I was eating a melon. There was just nothing to it.

The second one was so good that I blushed! I have no idea what it was. It made the trip from Madrid in my husband's carry-on. It was sweet yet very clean...pure tasting. I put a few pictures up...if you recognized it, let me know! :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Melon Picture


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

reign-

Your husband carried a melon in his carry on? I love it, a man who loves his wife so much he'd bring her a melon, the true fruit of love from across the continent. You're lucky, though. When I went to Asia once for work, I thought I'd smuggle some super sweet, fragrant juicy mangoes from Malaysia. Everyone told me, don't event think about. The state is real picky about what comes in, esp. stuff from the tropics. And the inspectors have that "I want to bust you" attitude.

Anyway, your melon looks like a Piel De Sapo, esp. since the flesh is greenish white. There are other Spanish melons that come close in looks. But this variety is a favorite there in Spain and has been for centuries. Clean flavor is a good way to describe it. If your grow it and the weather is warm and the plant is happy, the flesh is fresh and sweet. But when the weather is too cool, it tastes just like a very soft cucumber. Here in CA, the specialty stores actually sell it from late May thrhough the summer. Central America farmers are now growing them for US markets.

Regarding your bland melon (from the nursery?), was it an orange-fleshed western melon (heavy netting like Hales best) or sparse netting like Burpee Hybrid? That sure is a disappointment.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

My husband laughed at me. He brought several gifts and I took off running with the melon.

The nursery owner's son bought a farm in Georgia or something. Last few years he has been having produce trucked to the nursery. Peaches were going faster than he fill the bins. "Orange"-fleshed muskmelon melon. About 4 lbs. Heavy netting and didn't ripen close to the skin. It was so void that when I think about it, I wonder if it was grown poorly or really the son of bad stock. It was a sad thing. :)

I'm saving the seeds from possible Piel De Sapo. I'll plant some next season and see what I get.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Reign,

That's hilarious. The visual of a woman running off with a Piel De Sapo type melon is too funny.

If you soak a few seeds overnight, then place it in a plastic bag atop a napkin in a warm environment (i.e. in the pilot lighted oven), it'll germinate fairly quickly. I know that in your climate, it may not mature in time. But if you have the space, would it be possible for a 90 day melon to mature in mid September? Am not sure.

Those melons do fairly well in the warmer CA cities (not mine on the coast). But that's because we have very dry conditions like they do in Spain. Some melons, like the western style with the heavy netting, really prefer not to get their leaves wet and low humidity. That's why I'm not surprised at your bland GA grown melon. I've had delicious hybrid melons from fruit stands in Georgia (and peaches as well), but that's a shame you buy something so tasteless.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Piel de Sapo is one of my favorite melons. I can understand why you would run off with it. I smuggled some seeds back from Spain when I was an exchange student. My dad planted them one year, and the gophers thought they were delicious! Since the gophers were wrecking them, my dad went ahead and pulled them all. Many were still unripe and very hard, but even those were extremely sweet and tasty. To me the flavor reminds me more of a watermelon, although the flesh is more like a honeydew. I hope you will have good luck with the seeds. Just watch out for the gophers! LOL


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

fert1

As a melon lover, when you wrote your dad pulled them all, my question is, "How did he pull all the gophers without getting bitten?" At first, I thought he might've (God forbid) pulled out the melon plants. But there is no way a reasonable person would do such a thing, esp. at harvest time, or close to it, right? LOL

I germinate seeds from just-eaten melons sometimes (if they're not hybrids). I've done that for 3 years now with Galia. Central American grown Galias hit the specialty grocery stores around the first week of April here in Southern Cal. Even at 99 cents a pound, it's a bargain. I pick a smallish, really fragrant ripe one. I scoop out the seeds, and just tamp them 1.5" deep into the soil. In 7 or so days, they've sprouted. At 65 days, despite a cool spring (5-8 degrees below average temps for about 40 of the last 60 days) the little marble-sized melons are starting to form.

Today is June 23, 2005. The Ambrosia seedlings planted about April 15 have softball size fruit that are well netted. The Montreal Melon seeds are now 1 foot long and have blossoms already! The Charentais, planted the same time a month ago, are also near a foot long but not a trace of a blossom.

Two of six Ambrosia plants developed what looks like cucumbler mosaic virus (CMV). I pulled out the diseased plants, washed my hands, and have sprayed the remainder regularly for aphids, which can spread CMV. The rest look fine.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

April 15! .

I'm pleased that all direct seeded melons are up with true leaves. I threw a party for them. Over here in zone 5, we celebrate the small victories. If we waited until a vine was a foot long or had a small fruit, there is a chance we'd never get to party. .

Sorry to hear a few Ambrosia vines got sick. So early in the game. Right now my Noir Des Carmes are the happiest. This is my first try at Obus. I do stare at it... maybe a little to much. A picture of a nice ripe one will look so good on my kitchen wall. I'm growing it for the art. :) I'm going to hang it ....right there. See that spot where my husband hung his ugly foofoo art calendar?

I thought about planting the Piel De Sapo. I used the last prepared beds for Ambrosia and Blue Ridge. I have the space to prep another bed. But I counted days a few times and didn't think I'd pull it off in time.

Fert 1 - Pull healthy plants! Plants with ripening fruit! Ahhhhhhh! I would be hunting gophers. :)


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

> But there is no way a reasonable person would do such a thing, esp. at harvest time, or close to it, right? LOL

Obviously you never met my dad. I never understood the logic of many things the man did. He was good man, but sometimes you just had to shake your head and wonder, "what was he thinking?"

I think he would have been better off if he had pulled the gophers! LOL!


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RE: Piel de Sapo and friends

Two years ago, I grew Piel de Sapo melons in the wells of our trees, hoping for a melon which would store for a while in the fall. Our big dog, Sparky, pulled up the plants to eat the melons early. Made bigger tooth marks than a gopher or ground squirrel. We brought the rest of the melons in anyway and used the ones which were about half-ripe as sweet cucumber substitutes. Sparky used to like me to peel burpless cucumbers for him, but since getting scolded for pulling up the melon plant, doesn't seem to dare to eat cucumbers, either. Dogs can be too smart for their own good, sometimes.

Those who are thinking about planting melons late might consider that they could use the Piel de Sapo type of melon unripe if the weather is not kind. They keep for a long time on the counter when picked early like this, and are superior to any cucumber you will find in the stores in late fall. I've heard that the "pretend it's a cucumber" routine also works with honeydews.

We live in a favorable melon climate - hot and pretty dry in summer. Our best melon has been Early Sugarshaw hybrid Crenshaw, but I couldn't find seed last year. I planted mixed heirlooms, which were mostly disappointing in sub-optimal conditions. I also planted out volunteers from seeds of the Early Sugarshaw in a better location. Got a wild assortment of melon types, none as good as the parent. A friend picked our nice-looking Ananas melons too soon, thinking that they looked like over-ripe canteloupes. All the green-fleshed melons I planted, heirloom or hybrid, were disappointing in flavor, though they grew well. Dark-skinned types like Early Black Rock sunburned. Not the best melon year at our house.

I started planting melons late this year (April 27) due to funny weather. Started them in Root Trainers from Thompson and Morgan over bottom heat, then planted them out as soon as the plants popped through the potting soil. This system works very well for me. Firm the soil well around the new seedlings and water in.

This year I planted lots of Early Sugarshaw (AKA Early Sugar Shaw) , and also several heirlooms. So far, the biggest melons are on Prescot Fond Blanc (5 or 6 inches across) and Mary Gold casaba (5 inches long). Plus melons on a volunteer plant that looks like a Persian type.

This year, I am trying several OP crenshaw types, some Charentais types, Middle Eastern types and a Japanese melon. So far, so good. Two years ago, I had a hard time finding takers for canteloupe once the Early Sugarshaws were on. I haven't planted many "typical" canteloupes this year.

Monday, I'll plant the last, risky planting for fall - Charentais, Northern Arizona, Santa Clause, Piel de Sapo if the seeds are still alive, and maybe a couple others. Usually, late plantings here are hit hard by whiteflies and other tiny insects. There will be no Crenshaw types in the last planting - they don't seem to taste as good when they ripen in cool fall weather.

Hope everyone finds a variety or two that does well in their climate.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Jackman,

If your customers want Ambrosia and you would like to try heirlooms, you might want to try some varieties which mature before Ambrosia. I am growing 'Sucrin de Tours' for the first time. Fruits are sizing up nicely and feel very heavy and solid. I just read that the seeds will germinate at lower temperatures than most cucurbits, so they may be a good bet for an early crop. The flesh is supposed to be red. The skin is light green flecked with darker green, and there is a "button" on the blossom end sort of like Jenny Lind, but not as pronounced. In humid areas like yours, I would try to keep the fruits from touching the ground. as the skin does not look very tough. My amateur hybridization experiment for the year is crossing this variety with 'Petit Gris de Rennes', which I am also growing for the first time.

You might also try some of the really early short-season conventional varieties which may or may not qualify as heirlooms, like Minnesota Midget or Alaska.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Carolyn - where did you find seeds for Sucrin de Tours? Last year I hunted for that one.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

for sucrins de Tours: google didn't come up with it; try www.dogpile.com Joe


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Here's where I got Sucrin de Tours.

Here is a link that might be useful: Le Jardin du Gourmet


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Thanks for source, Carolyn. Keep us updated on how it does. I can't wait to grow it. But I must. :) In the mean time I'll stare at the seeds :)


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

CaolynCl - Thanks for your posts. Piel de Sapo is available locally in the specialty supermarkets (Whole foods and Von's Pavillion, etc.) so I don't grow it. I have tasted Early Sugar Shaw hybrid, and it's very nice melon. Generally, the Crenshaw types have that juicy texture that are great, but I just don't have the room, and are inconsistent for me. This year, I am trying Montreal Melon as an experiment and envy your warm climate. Are you near Bakersfield? I have cousins there and too bad they're not melon fans. They grow fruit trees with great success, along with okra, peppers, and eggplant, and early plantings of tomatoes that fry by late July.

The two melons I have grown on your list, Charentais and Northern Arizona do well in my climate, usually 75-85 high from June-October. What Japanese melon are you growing? I have grown Sunrise, a soft fleshed melon and a few of the crisper types that I did not like as much. The small yellow crisp Korean melons (aka Early Silver line) also do well.

For all melons, I can get two plantings: The first planted in early April, ripen in early through mid July. When the melons get softball size, I start a few seeds of melons in 4 pots and transplant when the first batch is harvested. This year, I will have two 4" pots of Jenny Lind, Emerald Gem, Sweetie Butterscotch, and Vanilla Ice Hybrid (Galia type). But it's been a cool spring, so we'll see.

What Green Fleshed melons did you try that was disappointing? I'm wondering if they just can't take a hot climate since they do so well in my cooler temps. Ones besides Galia (light green)I've also grown include Haogen, Jenny Lind, Rocky Ford,and Ananas (there are a few more I can't remember). These days, if I want Ananas, there is a farmer's market vendor who was grown that variety for the last 10 years and it is awesome. I just take a sample of her melons as I'm buying other produce.

Just wondering, is that Sucrin de Tours a watermelon or muskmelon? I've never seen a deep red fleshed muskmelon, so I think I may try it if that's the case.

And you're right, Minnesota Midget and Alaska are great if earliness is important, and they're decent melons. So is Fastbreak though it's not an heirloom either. I've grown all three, but with limited room, for me - Ambrosia Hybrid, Charentais, Haogen (inconsistent), and Galia are the ones my office mates normally pick as the best in the ones I bring in. Last year, Sweetie Butterscotch Hybrid (I know, it's not an heirloom) was so good, it did not make it into my office. Especially the ones that ripened in early November.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Bill,
We're halfway between Bakersfield and Fresno. I have a feeling that most of the Crenshaw melons are best in quite hot weather, so would not be the best choice if you have limited space near the coast. The Japanese melon I am growing is Extra Summersweet, a hybrid that just looks good. I know nothing about it. I have some of the small, edible-skinned Asian melons volunteering from last year. I didn't particularly like them. This year, I may try picking some earlier, as they seemed mealy when they were at full slip. We have a friend who liked them, though. He took them home.

Last year, we grew Passport, Ananas and some unidentified heirloom melons which were green or white fleshed. The Passport and Ananas just seemed to be lacking in flavor, and didn't have the best texture either (but the Ananas was picked too soon). The unidentified heirlooms may have suffered because some of them were stunted due to alkalinity. This year, I am trying Haogen, Tigger and Collective Farm Woman, plus Mary Gold casaba and Honey-I-Dew honeydew, because I liked the yellow skin. I think it's also supposed to slip when ripe. There may be a couple other green or white-fleshed ones out there.

If you have found a grower who does well with Ananas, I would support her work. I think we need to help growers who care to do well. And there are always enough things to grow which just don't do well in market conditions.

Piel de Sapo is another one which is a good choice to buy in markets, as are similar 'winter' types. It doesn't seem so critical to time when these are picked. But I do think the immature ones make fine cucumbers after the real cucumbers are gone from the garden.

Sucrin de Tours has seeds like a muskmelon, and looks a little like a larger Charentais type. I've never seen a red-fleshed muskmelon, either. But it sounded like a good experiment.

If your November Butterscotch Sweetie melons were good, maybe I'll try those for fall next year. But it gets colder at night here during the fall than it does near the Southern California coast, and I think that limits the varieties that taste good in fall here. I never tried growing melons when I lived in Costa Mesa.

Good luck with your melons.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

CarolynCl

I was recently in Visalia, which many don't know is also between Bakersfield and Fresno. I have fond memories of that place - one of my best friends in college grew up there and I would visit. I lost track of him, esp. after he married the third time, LOL. His mom was proud of her garden, she used to grow a few melons but mainly tomatoes, beans, and peppers. When I was in Visalia recently for my job in downtown LA, I got to see Monrovia Nurseries just east and north of downtown Visalia. What a treat to see such a beautiful place. But that is great melon country. When I drive up I-5 or US99 from OC to the SF Bay Area for a visit, I stop often to find different melons and fruit at the roadside stands and other produce esp. corn on the cob.
I haven't grown Passport or Ananas for years, but Passport did well, and my office mates loved it. It does seem to do well in a cooler climate. I think it was developed in New Hampshire. Ananas is from Israel I believe, and while good, is no where as sweet and as aromatic as Haogen. When I walk by a ripe Haogen, the aroma drives me hungry. From the same plant,I've had some that were less sweet, so it's quite inconsistent. I always stop watering melons about a week before they're fully ripe. My soil is also fairly neutral in pH.
Yes, I do support those vendors who drive sometimes 200 miles on Saturday to our local farmers market. $2.00 a pound is a typical price for stone fruits, but it beats the store produce quality by a long shot, I esp. like the organic farmers. Melons usually are $2-3 each. There are some melons I've tried also at the Asian Specilaty Markets like 99 Ranch market -both heirlooms and hybrids from all over Asia which included firm white fleshed melons. They to me were not as good as the Haogens, Charentais, Galia, etc. at all. I'll be interested to hear how that Summersweet melon tastes. That red-fleshed Sucrin de Tours is very interesting. And I hear Tigger Melon is beautiful to look at but lousy to eat.
If you like the color yellow in muskmelons, there is a Burpee hybrid called "Bartlett" like the pear. It was beautiful and productive, even in my climate. But the taste was sweet without any hint of fruitiness. It was supposed to taste like the cross between an apple and pear. It may need a warmer climate, it reminded me of a casaba and Spanish melon mix. Of the yellow skinned varieties, I like Vanilla Ice the best. It's a hybrid Galia type (I think I mentioned in my last post) from Burpee as well.
Butterscoth Sweetie Hybrid was outstanding. I forgot about a few plants still left sprawling as I was doing my fall cleanup in November. There were weeds hiding the five little melons about a pound each. When I opened them up, they were still as sweet as the ones from two months earlier. Of course, like cars, your mileage and success will vary -- hope it does well for you if you grow it in the fall next year. BTW, it took about 66 days from planting by seed till I harvested the first fruit. I'm really hoping to get just one decent green fleshed Montreal Melon this season. They get to over 10 lbs when the weather is warm. They look healthy now, but with such a cool June, I can only hope July will be sizzling.
Thanks for the info on your melons. I hope you keep us informed as to their progress.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

I saw a picture of a Sucrin de Tours last spring. In the photo it was bright orangeish/red flesh melon. Could have been poor color balance / lighting in the photo. But, the flesh color was interesting enough to make me go gah gah.

The local grocery store has a small display they're calling "Exotic Melons"(a few Canary and Casaba types). When you consider they usually only have Athena hybrid, it is exciting. Now - at $6.99 each, I think they're a little to proud of their acquisition.

I grew Tigger Melon last season. It is a pretty one. A bowl of them is a stunning display. I wasn't impressed with the taste and had planned to give it another try this season. Someone told me it is much sweeter if given only enough water to stay alive. Prescott Fond Blanc took Tigger's place. Poor Tigger.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Bill,

Visalia's not far away, but their soil is generally better than ours. I'll let you know how the melons progress. Extra Summersweet has pale orange flesh in the picture. Seemed a little unusual for an Asian melon. But there are some big seed houses centered in Japan now, serving an international market.


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RE: Melons for September

Well, I planted melon seeds for later harvest today, mostly varieties which have a reputation for doing well in cooler weather, others which I wanted to try in cooler weather. If all goes well, most will probably ripen in September. It is usually still hot in the daytime then, but nighttime temperatures are usually quite cool.

I planted the following shameful assortment of heirlooms and hybrids: Sucrin de Tours, Charentais, Ha Ogen (Bill talked me into it), Petit Gris de Rennes , Northern Arizona, St. Nick hybrid, Extra Summer Sweet hybrid and Savor hybrid Charentais. I'm keeping notes on other recommendations from this thread for next year.

Can't get away with an August planting for November melon harvest like Bill does in Southern California (where it's often warmer in late November than in June, as I recall). Guess I'm about through planting until August, when fall vegetables go in (cool season crops plus green and shelly beans). I guess I can start an heirloom bean update then on a few varieties.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

"...Bill talked me into it"

How do you think I ended up with Ambrosia in the 11th hour. :)

I so wish I could have a second melon planting! Right now I'm trying to decide which variety I'll save seeds from. I put a few Noir Des Carmes in isolation since I was starting to run short on seed. I didn't watch my trades close enough last year. Hand pollinating is such a hit and miss pain in the bum that I can only talk myself into picking one a season.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

reign and Carolyn,

At least in my climate, both Haogen and Ambrosias are great. I expect the first smallish Ambrosia to ripen the 2nd week in July. If we get high 70s the next week like we're supposed to, it'll be fine. I really hope they do well for you. Give them warmth, lots of space, feed them well, destroy pests, and they should be a hit. In any case, please let us know how they do.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

I have grown the Ambrosia for 4 years now,never had a bad one.I will say though,my cousin and a friend of her's planted them 190 miles north of me.They were bland,so they may tast better grown from the south.If anyone knows please answer.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Jackman,

Hard to tell without seeing your cousin's plants growing. You may have that melon green thumb that she doesn't. In her case, some thoughts: I find melons in general don't do well when they're crowded. So space is critical. I give each group of melons at least 6' x 4' of space. The commercial melon growers in California place them in rows 6' apart and the groups of melons, 2-3 plants flat in the row and NOT in hills, are also 6' apart. They need warmth and full sun, at least 80 degrees average (90 high, 70 lo) especially the last month - ripening. Also, too much nitrogen and too much water especially during the last week can make the melon bland tasting. Another possibility is lack of some minerals in the soil. According to wine growers, the soil's mineral content is important, and could apply here. Sort of in reverse reasoning, I read that low sulfate soils are needed to grow the non-pungent Maui onions. So maybe sulfate content equals more flavor at times. I add sulfates (gypsum) to the soil anyway to lessen the alkalinity, as well as iron compounds.

Any hint of shade in a cool climate, too many cloudy days, can have an effect. Lastly, if the leaves aren't healthy due to disease or pests, or not absorbing all that sun and making sugar, it may be bland. My bet is on her microclimate. In California from the coast to the mountains is 70 miles and more, and you can get wide swings of temperature differences (Zone 8 to Zone 11). At 190 miles, it might be that different.

I lived in Nor CAL south of Oakland growing up. The Burpee catalog said Ambrosia melon tasted like "food for the Gods", and I always liked Ambrosia Fruit salad (it had coconut LOL). So I grew that melon as well as Hales Best. The temperatures rarely hit over 85 degrees even in August except for a hat wave into the 90s for a few days. While the HB was just OK, the Ambrosias were excellent. I've been hooked ever since.

Hope that helps


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

It could also be a difference in soil prep/watering/grower.
A few years ago I gave a neighbor a few acres over some seeds for Oka. I love that melon! The difference in the mature melons was just wild. Not only were his twice the size of mine but the taste. His were bland and lacked the perfume I'd taken for granted with that variety. I'm thinking it was watering. He has a sophisticated irrigation system. I have a water hose. When vines are all over the place, I have to fill a watering can and look for the base of the plants (on the ones I don't trellis). The person that has to hunt for a spot to water, waters less and stares more. :) I don't water when the melons are ripening. His fancy watering system is a slave to the timer.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

I grew Ambrosia melons in 1984. They produced very well, but we did not care for the musky aroma and flavor they had. I have not tried them since. Are they generally more musky [yuck] than most?


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Wayne 5 - Probably yes - I'm not sure what you mean by musky but it does have its own aroma and taste. Some people who don't like melons have described it to me as "earthy", as well. To me, when the melon is happy and the sugar content is high, it balances out the intense aroma and taste. Because I've met people who don't like any melon anyway, it's not surprising when someone doesn't like a particular nuance of a melon. I've seen and have been to over 20 melon tastings, and Ambrosia usually ranks in the top 25%. Some people do like less strong taste, however. But I love melons that smell strong, taste strong,but are sweet.

But what I love about this melon is that for my climate, even when it's a little cool, the melons might be small but to me they taste great.

Are there particular melons you like and can recommend? It's be nice to suggest a melon without a "musky" or "earthly" taste for others less enthusiastic about this fruit.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

1984? It may be time to revisit them. :)

Bill - I don't think my Ambrosia is Ambrosia. It still may be a little early to tell for sure...but

A small local farm was doing some classes (aka raise some money by charging people to do farm work for them). Of course I wandered off towards their home gardens. They had Ambrosia and Burpee Hybrid growing for their roadside stand. My Ambrosia sure looked like that Burpee Hybrid.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

reign,

There are some differences between the two in appearance, at least in my experience. Ambrosia is less sutured than Burpee Hybrid. When less than 4 lbs. like a lot of mine are, the Ambrosias are almost perfectly round. Burpee Hybrids tend to be more elongated, though I have seen some nearly round, and some Ambrosias elongated as well. Another way to tell the difference is the "height" of the netting the protrudes from the melon. Ambrosias netting is about 3/4 as tall - does that make sense? Here is a link to Ambrosia from Burpee.com

http://www.burpee.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=413&itemType=PRODUCT&RS=1&keyword=melons

And here is the link for Burpee Hybrid

http://www.burpee.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=594&itemType=PRODUCT&RS=1&keyword=Burpee+Hybrid+melon

Inside, the seed cavity of Ambrosia's are round also, and it's smaller than that of BH. Both are yummy in smell to me, but if you put out 10 different orange fleshed melons, "
Ambosia heads" like me can pick them out blindfolded in a line-up. It's that distinctive of an aroma.

So I hope you have Ambrosias. BH are excellent, too but I prefer the food from the Gods, as Burpee described Ambrosias in their introduction. BTW, I have been to upstate New York several times for business. Our host always recommended we come in early fall to take advantage of those yummy Concord grapes in season. We found an Amish farm that also sold melons - Burpee Hybrid and Crenshaws. All I can say is, the 5 lbs. grapes intended for our friends back home never even got into the plane. And we would stop at the side and break open the melons, even if it spoiled out lunch appetite.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Early fall. :) Reminds me of when I first moved here. At the time I was only dating my husband. But he had warned me about "strange" things like...the foliage report. Sure enough...there were daily foliage reports in the fall. People actually cared where leaves were dying best and would take trips to see dead leaves. I guess we all need a hobby.

The man across the street from me grows Concords. His farm house came with over grown vines that were at the very least 50 years olds. He cleared the vines and got passionate about them. We have an unspoken "deal". He brings me several wheelbarrows of Concords and I don't complain when he leaves me notes saying he took watermelons from my garden. He married a woman that loves watermelon. Plus I return some of the grapes back to him in the form of jelly and juice concentrate.

Thank you for pointing out the specific difference between Ambrosia and BH. I am glad you know them and could articulate. Personally, I feel Ambrosia is the perfect name for a melon. I've always liked the definition. The salad. The ice cream. I'm a season or three away from being ready to try a good cross. I hate that the name is taken. :)


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Bill,

You asked if I had a melon to recommend. Yes, Willhite's Sugar Queen is so good. Also Burpees' hyb. Crenshaw has produced the perfect melon on occasion....but not usually here.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Wayne,

Sound like you prefer a high-brix melon with a more delicate flavor than some cantaloupes. I thought about Sugar Queen this year, but didn't get seed. Maybe next year. I grew Burpee Hybrid Crenshaw and Early Sugarshaw Hybrid Crenshaw in the same row two years ago, and the Early Sugarshaw was much better. Could be the opposite in your climate, but might be worth trying. Ripening time is about the same. I got seed here:

http://www.vegetableseedwarehouse.com/index.htm

I am growing a high-brix Japanese melon this year, Extra Summersweet. Don't know how it will turn out, but looks nice and sounds like it is fairly early, too:

http://www.evergreenseeds.com/evergreenseeds/orientalmelon.html

More Asian melons:

http://www.kitazawaseed.com/seeds_melon.html


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

CarolynCl,

I think the Japanese are excellent breeders of hybrids, but are there any true Japanese heirlooms? I love their Sunrise melon but don't know if it's Heirloom/OP or hybrid. Some of the other melons (Gaya, Hanmei, Kondoz) at the Asian markets were nowhere near as good as that. I've had some Vietnamese melons, too - I think those were heirlooms and they were also just OK. And they were supposedly grown near Bakersfield. The one heirloom from Khazastan (Kazakh), a white fleshed melon, was excellent. Last few years in the fall, the stores started carrying a large football shaped melon with netting, I forgot what it was called. It was good, but not great, and the local store told me they only sold about half its inventory.

reign - Concord grapes for watermelons sounds like a great deal to me. And if you make jam or jelly from a neighbor's pickings, that's outstanding. Nothing beats homemade. As for foliage reports, I have been through the Adirondacks, Shenandoah, and Colorado during fall leaf drop. It's truly beautiful and eerie knowing that after all those gold and red leaves fall, it'll be nothing but limbs and branches for another six months or so.

Wayne 5 - Thanks for your reply. I am often in shock when someone says I hate cantloupes/melons. They will eat them in a fruit salad and if the flavor isn't too pronounced. I don't grow the Crenshaw/Sugarshaw varieties, but I do buy them when they're in season. They have a silky smooth texture bursting with juice.

Alas, I have one melon that isn't doing too well again for the second year - Montreal Melon. It's turning yellow, and the growth has slowed and looks like early blight is taking hold. Our June Gloom with cloud cover till 1 PM and high humidity 72 degree days just aren't warm enough. The first Ambrosias are looking great and should be ready this week. It should be around 2-3 lbs, though they grow to 5.
The charentais planted the same time as Montreal melon have lots of blossoms. The Yellow Doll hybrid watermelon is about softball size now. Butterscotch is now getting fruit (planted about 45 days ago).


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Bill,

There are probably some Japanese heirlooms somewhere, but the oldest melon from the companies I linked seems to be from the 1950s - "New Melon".

Our first volunteer melon popped its stem today. Looks like a regulation canteloupe, though it was slow to develop netting and I thought it would be closer to a Persian type. We'll try it tonight. Sucrin de Tours is starting to get a little netting now, too. I guess it won't be exactly like a Charentais.

Wayne,

After having some damage to my sense of smell from medication, I can understand why someone would not like some of the stronger-flavored melons. When my problem first started I could not tolerate the smell of vanilla for anything, though I had previously loved it. Chocolate was almost as bad, and raspberries tasted terrible. The fruits that tasted best were the ones where acid and/or sugar predominated in the flavor. Pomegranates tasted very good to me then. Things have slowly improved, and I can now enjoy a few types of chocolate, and even tolerate a little vanilla, if it is not too strong. I can eat raspberries again, though they still don't taste quite the same. Some people are probably more naturally sensitive to certain odors than others.


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RE: Japanese heirloom melon?

Bill,

Unless you can call Sakata's Sweet a Japanese heirloom, or maybe Eel River (seed brought back from Japan after WWII). Think I have some Eel River plants out there. All the others I saw listed as heirlooms were pickling melons.

Here is a link that might be useful: Eel River Melon


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Bill - I'm disappointed to hear that your Montreal Melon isn't doing well. Third time the charm? :)

Of course I don't have fruit yet but most are at least starting to flower. The biggest disappointment in my garden right now is Blue Ridge. It started with low germination. Three seeds out of fifteen germinated. I must have gotten a pack of floaters. I'd swear the evolution from ape to man progressed fast than this plant. I haven't had a melon make me want it burn it where it grows in a long time.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

  • Posted by Tuso madrid spain (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 12, 05 at 9:08

I usually haunt the tomato forum, so this is my first time reading this thread. Living in spain, its funny to read all of the references to piel de sapo. It, like amarillo oro and valencia, are excellent melons, but as they are just about the only melons you see in the markets (almost all year around), i am tired of them. so being blessed with excellent melon growing weather and space, i am cultivating everything but piel de sapo. Last year ananas amerique verte, creshaw blanco, charentais and noir de carmes were great sucesses. This year i have added obus, kazakh, petit gris rennes, green machine (already promises to be very productive), collective farm woman and sakatas.

To Reign who tried tigger: last year i grew 4 plants, 2 in one location and 2 in another. The two plants that were isolated received very little water after fruit set and the taste was excellent, but not out of this world. The other two plants receive a little more water and it showed up in the taste which was disappointing. As i trellis them and they really don't take up much space, i planted 3 more this year to see if i can do better. If not, like you, next year they will be replaced by prescott blanc. By the way how was productivity of prescott?

also, can someone tell me how productivity was for them for jenny lind, emerald gem and hollybrook luscious? Planning for next year has already started and i would like to add more "american" melons.

Thanks,
Natasja


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

My first tomato this year.... (first one ripe) is big rainbow which is heirloom. It isn't supposed? to be early ripening but for some reason this one is leagues ahead of the rest. (even stupice) If that helps with your definition of "easy" then this is one. That being said I'm growing all heirloom tomatos this year (9) and only one has a sign of a hint of disease. I really don't think they're harder to grow than others.


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RE: What is an easy to grow heirloom melon?

Although I had to fight a mild case of Fusarium wilt early in the season, I found Petit Gris de Rennes to be easy to grow. A late May planting yielded its first fruit on 15 August. The melon was huge, weighing over 5-pounds (I believe the average for Petit Gris is under 2-pounds.) It had a Brix sugar rating of 16.6-percent and tasted great.

I grew the popular hybrid Savor at the same time in the same bed. Although it registed 18.3-percent sugar, the Petit Gris was much better tasting. The Savor had a harsh flavor.

If you wish to see pictures of these melons and read about the techniques used to grow them, please visit my website THIS AND THAT at http://www.waynesthisandthat.com. Look for the EXTREME MELON GROWING page in the Gardening section.

Here is a link that might be useful: THIS AND THAT


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