SELECTED VEGETABLE CROPS [continued]
Ch. 10, pp. 104 - 107
Crops: intro |
brussels sprouts |
sweet corn |
lettuce | melons |
herbs | herb
||Well-drained with moderate organic matter;
||6.0 to 7.5
||Hot (70 to 85° F).
||Seed after all danger of frost is past and
when soil warms. Begin transplants in peat pots 3 to 4 weeks
before this time.
||24 to 36 inches by 5 to 7 feet for muskmelon
hills; 6 to 8 feet apart for watermelon hills.
||Very tender annual.
||Heavy feeder. Use a starter solution for
transplants. Late maturing varieties, however, may need some
sidedressing at fruit set.
Muskmelons and watermelons are warm season crops requiring a long
growing season of 80 to 100 days from seed to fruit. Most present
varieties are not well suited to small gardens because of the
space requirement. Newer bush varieties are being developed for
use in small gardens.
Melons can be produced from transplants or planted
directly. Those grown from transplants can be harvested as much as
two weeks earlier than melons grown directly from seed, since the
gardener must wait until danger of frost is past to plant. Plant
or transplant muskmelon in rows five feet apart with hills spaced
every 2-3 feet, two or three plants per hill. Watermelon hills
should be 6 to 8 feet apart, and rows 7 to 10 feet apart if a path
is desired between rows. Seed should be sown 1/2 to 1 inch deep
after danger of frost has passed and soil is warmed.
Muskmelons and watermelons are well suited for growing
on black plastic mulch. The black plastic absorbs heat readily,
allowing the soil to warm quickly. It tends to keep the soil
moisture level from fluctuating greatly. In addition, the mulch is
very effective in controlling weeds, decreasing the labor
necessary to care for melons.
Male and female flowers are separated on the same
plant. Bees must carry pollen from flower to flower to insure good
fruit. Use insecticides late in the evening to prevent killing
Melon plants can be trained in rows for easy
harvesting. Growing on a trellis allows closer spacing (rows three
feet apart), but each trellised melon must be supported by a sling
made of a material which dries quickly to prevent rot. Old nylon
stockings, cheesecloth, and other net-like materials make good
fruit slings. Very large watermelons probably should not be
trellised at all, since the weight of the fruit, even if
supported, would likely damage the vine.
||Mosaic virus, fusarium wilt, powdery and
downy mildews, alternaria blight.
||Cucumber beetles, squash vine borer, squash
bug, leafminer, aphids, whitefly.
||Poor flavor and lack of sweetness due to
poor fertility, picking melons unripe, low potassium,
magnesium or boron. Poor growth due to cool temperatures, wet
weather, poorly adapted variety, loss of leaves from disease.
Poor pollination caused by wet, cool weather, lack of bee
pollinators, and planting too close resulting in excessive
vegetative growth. A heavy rain when melons are ripening may
cause some of the fruit to split open. Fruit in contact with
soil may develop rotten spots or be damaged by insects on the
bottom. Place a board or a couple inches of light mulching
material such as sawdust or straw, beneath each fruit when it
is nearly full-sized. Placing newly developing fruit on a
buried tin can with the ends cut out will promote ripening.
HARVESTING AND STORAGE
|Days to Maturity:
||70 to 130 days.
||Muskmelons are harvested at full-slip; i.e.,
when the stem separates easily at the point of attachment.
Honeydew, Crenshaw, and Casaba melons are cut off after they
turn completely yellow. These melons will rot if left on the
ground for too long. For water melons, become familiar with
the variety being grown to determine the best stage for
harvesting. The best indicator is a yellowish color on the
underside where the melon touches the ground. A dead tendril
or curl near the point where the fruit is attached to the vine
is used by some as an indicator that the fruit is ready for
harvest. You may also thump the fruit, listening for the dull
sound of ripe fruit, rather than a more metallic sound;
however, this technique takes practice, and if you have just a
few fruit, it is wise to include all of the above ` when
making your decision.
||8 to 40 pounds per 10-foot row, more if
|Amount to Raise:
||10 to 15 pounds per person.
||Medium-cool (40 to 50º F), moist (80 to
85% relative humidity) conditions.
||Cool, moist storage; may freeze muskmelons.