My Melon Growing

 I live in a mild climate where the summers are usually hot and dry but we do usually get a couple of inches or so of rain over the summer. Most years I don't even have to water much at all because the rains come at the right times and the soil holds a little moisture of its own. My temperatures average around 25 to 30 degrees C in the summer and 12 degrees C in the winter with a few frosts.

I have a sandy loam soil that really should be fertilised to grow anything but I am really slack when it comes to fertilising so that mixed with the lack of regular watering means that I don't get the yields that most descriptions of melons say.  

    On the up side, because my melons are not molly-coddled you can be reasonably sure that you should do at least as well as I do and shouldn't have too many disappointments. My melons have to endure whatever most gardeners throw at them so I like to think that my growing descriptions are more accurate than many that you will see in seed catalogues. My melon seeds are usually planted directly where they are to grow around the start of October which is a couple of weeks before any late frosts might appear. This means that they are put into cool soil and take around three weeks to germinate. If any late frosts are expected I cover any newly germinated plants with cut-off 2l soft drink bottles.

The melon plants are usually fertilised a couple of weeks after germination and maybe again when they start to set fruit but I am a bit slack in that regard, as I have said so they usually take longer from germination to harvest than usually described - up to a month longer.

When they start flowering I bag many of the male and female flowers so I can hand pollinate them for pure seed to sell. I use organza bags but many people just tape the flowers shut with sticky tape. I don't have a lot of customers in Australia so I just aim for 2-3 fruits of each variety for seed and sell the rest of the fruit at the local farmers market and from my own door.

The melons are usually finished by late april when powdery mildew and colder weather have taken their toll. So I have around a 6 or so month growing period.


Part of my breeding melon patch. 

I don't use black plastic mulch for two reasons. One, I have a reasonable length growing season so I don't need to warm up the ground early, and two, it heats up too much in summer and burns plants to a crisp.