Guide to Growing Melons
Guide to Growing Melons
Melons may be grown in greenhouses or frames. For greenhouse cultivation, seeds are sown singly in small pots in a temperature of 18 to 21°C (65 to 70° F) at any time from January until the end of May.
The plants are grown on ridges of rich either on the floor of a low greenhouse or on the staging of a taller structure. The bed should be about 2ft to 3ft. in width with a 6in. depth of soil spread over it, and, in addition, a narrow ridge, a further 6in. deep, should be made towards the back. On this ridge, the plants will be set 2ft. apart. The should consist of fibrous loam mixed with a little good leafmould, and well-rotted manure added. The plants are trained as single stems to wire strained from one end of the house to the other, 8in. from the roof glass.
When each plant is about 30in. in height pinch off the top. Side shoots will soon grow and four to six per plant should be retained. On each, female flowers will form, distinguishable by the small embryo fruit immediately behind the flower. These must be fertilised with pollen from the male flowers, and all the female flowers of one plant should be fertilised at one time. Usually four fruits per plant are sufficient.
When the young melons begin to swell all sub-lateral shoots should be pinched out. Water should be given freely at all times until the melons are nearly ripe and begin to emit their characteristic smell, and the atmosphere must be kept humid. Melons can be fed freely with weak liquid or soluble fertiliser from the time the fruits commence to swell.
For frame cultivation, seed should be sown early in April or May and the plants set out in June. Two plants can be accommodated in a frame measuring 6ft. by 4ft. the plants should be stopped at the fourth rough leaf and four side growths retained for flowering and fruiting. Subsequent culture is the same as for melons in greenhouses. It helps if the frames can be stood on a hot bed or if they can be soil-warmed with electric cables.
Varieties. These include Dutch Net (an early, large fruited variety with orange-pink flesh especially suited for frame cultivation), Hero of Lockinge (this has white flesh and is excellent for the greenhouse or frames), Emerald Gem (excellent flavour), and Superlative (with scarlet flesh).