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Who's a watermelon guru (they won't grow in MN??)

Posted by srj19 4 (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 30, 12 at 1:03

Year 8 growing watermelon and no fully mature melon.

I didn't see a flower until after the 4th of july and no fruit until begining of August despite planting established sugar babies on May 15th and babying them. They're tenis ball sized at the moment.

I've always quick maturing varieties and usually start them indoors but no luck in the outcome.

I'm thinking 8 gallon grow bags and seed starting in April is possibly the key to not distubing the roots and also giving them ample head start. What do you think?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Who's a watermelon guru (they won't grow in MN??)

I couldn't even bring all my watermelon to market today there was so many! I am in Big Lake. I start them inside in paper cups but not too early- something like 4/25-5/1. Then I transplant into black plastic sheeting the last week of May. I use floating row cover to keep the bugs out until the flowers are numerous. I had ripe watermelon at least 3 weeks ago. Blacktail MT was first but only a few days ahead of Crimson Sweet. I would trade you some seeds if you want.

RE: Who's a watermelon guru (they won't grow in MN??)

I can definately stand to learn a few tricks.

I've planted mine at the same time you mentioned, in what seemed a large enough space with loose soil. This year was some established plants from Gertens. In the past I've tried fast maturing, northern climate varieties.

What would you say are the critical aspects to having success with watermelons in MN?

I've heard conflicting things regarding root disturbance, the conventional wisdom is to not start them too soon lest they roots are disturbed and yet I've had other successful growers tell me not to worry about it at all.

I've seen a grower in WI have success with small varieties such as sugar baby, planted in large grow bags and I think I've give that a shot next year since I can start them in April w/o distubing anything. What do you think about that approach?

I also contemplated cold framing them (which sounds similar to the effect you're getting with the row covers) since they seem to require so much heat to get them going. When you said that you put then in black sheeting you mean in the ground with the landscape poly covering or something different?

Thanks for your advice, I need to get melons to work or next year I'll be fit to be tied!


RE: Who's a watermelon guru (they won't grow in MN??)

What is the soil like where you are? I'm thinking the Big Lake area has a lighter somewhat sandy soil. If I'm right as to the soil type it warms up faster in spring than heavier soils. If you have heavier soil you may want to plant in mounded hills, perhaps covering them with plastic to warm the soil faster/earlier a week or two before you plan to plant. A soil thermometer to check the soil temp might be helpful. I have a neighbor who uses soaker hose under the black plastic, never plants before the end of May, direct seeding and always has ripe watermelons. Planting into cold soil can set your transplants back.

RE: Who's a watermelon guru (they won't grow in MN??)

I've been planting in a large hole that I fill with pretty loose compost and top soil, but some sand might help.

I'm seeing a pattern in that early warming of the ground as well as warm air temps. I had an accidental growing in a pot with an established hosta and again we have the trait of warmer soil (above ground) being beneficial. I came accross some row covers and water wall enclosures that might even get this orange sized melon to maturity this season it I'm lucky...

I think the experiment next season with an 8+ gallon grow bag is going to work. I can start weeks earlier than normal, roots wont be distubed during growth & transplant and the above ground bag will keep the soil warmer in general. I'll have to really watch the water or set up a drip however....

RE: Who's a watermelon guru (they won't grow in MN??)

Good luck!

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