Growing various Melons 4 D Novices

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

I'm a novice at growing melons (Cucurbitaceae), it's a delightful experience to watch these veggies grow. Some are said to be ready to harvest in 50 days after sowing? This is a hand-on experience. I'll share my experience, and invite others with similar interest to join in for discussion.
Have you grown luffas and or calabash, cantaloupes? What are the positive/negatives pointers you'd have to give others? I hope you'll join in and talk about growing melons in the garden.

Currently I've 3 variety of these vines, 1. A couple Cantaloupes (seed from a sweet variety that I purchased at the grocery store, another from friend's garden harvested last year). 2. Luffas ( two distinct variety). 3. One calabash (or edible gourd).

Pictures shown are those of the Calabash which was sown in the latter part of June. The vine's bearing both male & female flowers. I'm so excited of the prospect of having these fruits in the backyard garden. You're invited to join the discussion. Come one, come all, let's talk. ^_^

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

It will be interesting to watch your progress. I myself have grown Cantaloupe type melons in the past but this year am growing Burpees Sugar Cube (cantaloupe) in two spots. One on a big pot on the driveway and one on a trellis in ground. My issue with trying to grow melons from years past was very poor production. This year I see that the Sugar Cube melons in the pot are loaded with melons while the in ground ones have almost nothing. Lesson learned. Next year more melons will go in pots on my sunny driveway.

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Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Hi Rita, thanks for taking an interest in my attempt to grow some of these vines. In years past, I've had random lucks with pumpkins growing in the ground. But didn't fair well with them in containers. The reverse holds true for your experience with cantaloupes.

Last year, my pumpkins vines looked healthy, pest free, but didn't produce fruits. I learned then they needed some help with pollination. At the time, I didn't know there were male/female flowers on these type of plant. I couldn't differentiate the sexes of the flowers at that. Then I picked up some idea to burry some portion of the vines to help it along (?). I was scratching my head: Learning bit and pieces of the whole lesson was rather tough, no ones told me about adventitious roots on the vines then. So this time around. I've gained a little more understanding of these type of plants culture. That said, I'm still a novice at this project. When I noticed my gourd's vine sent out a bunch of male flowers near the base of the vine this time, and there were no female ones, I was curious. Then couple weeks later, the vine begun to send out female flowers. Next, a few of the female flowers turned yellow and fell off the vine; I then realized those female flowers were way up on the top of the 8-9 feet long vine, the embryos must not received adequate nutrients to sustain themselves to maturity? So I promptly rigged up some way to correct the problem of transporting nutrients to the way ward young female flowers. Here is what I did.

To the left is the large container the vines are growing within. On the right of the wooden post, I raised a smaller pot with potting soil in which I burried a segment of the vine with several adventitious roots, I weight the segment down with a river rock, watered the pot in and doused the pot with some liquid fertilizer as I gave the main vines some fertilizer a few days later.

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

I have never grown pumpkins or any types of vining winter squashes. I am thinking they might not be the best for pots due to the fact that the vines get really big. That is long. I tried watermelon in ground once, that thing went on forever. I couldn't imagine it in a pot.

But really trying different things to see what works best is how we learn.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

I'm pondering now, whether I should hand-pollinate these two. Since this is my very first calabash that I've ever grew. First pix is the female flower and 2nd is the male. They're very close in their growth rate. I've observed that in early morning hours in the last couple of weeks, the male flower opens up early in the morning, then closed by noon. That means tomorrow morning I need to be out there and assure I've an opportunity to hand pollinate them. What say you?

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

Do it! Why take a chance on it not getting pollinated when you know what to do.

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

I cant grow good watermelons and to a lesser extent good cantalope here in Pennsylvania for some reason in the ground. I just get small little fruits that never amount to much. When I lived in Texas I could no problem. I attributed it to the heat unit differences. I'm not sure if its the daytime or night time ambient temperatures that some of the cucurbits like melons need or what it is. I will have to try growing them in pots...

newyorkrita...if you have more success in pots it could be that the soil temperature is warmer in the pots vs the ones you have in the ground? Maybe a plastic mulch might help in the ground?

I can grow excellent pumpkins, summer squash, winter squash (mainly butternuts), and cucumbers in the ground without many problems other than powdery mildew and in some years downy mildew. On the insect side of things squash bugs are my main threat.

I have noticed with most of the vining cucurbits that the first few female flowers are not always successful. I think sometimes this is due to pollination or other times the plant is still putting energy into vine growth and isnt quite ready to shift energy to reproduction?

I have noticed that many winter squash vines do have roots at the nodes and provide some nourishment as well as moisture and support. But I have also grown them on a trellis and didnt see much difference...in fact sometimes more fruiting on the trellis.

I have also seen some benefits of partial shading of mid day sun on pumpkins that seemed to increase size and quantity..at least the times I have planted them between rows or corn or under a fruit tree I have had alot of success.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Ah, now I've a green light. I'll carry out the task early in the morning. Thanks Rita for your input.

drobarr, like you, I've tried water melon before. They made fruits, but the taste? It was more like water without the 'melon' part. lol Needless to say, I haven't attempted a repeat failure since.

If you think that the heat unit differences between the two locales, I would lean toward that as well. If there is chill-hours unit, why not heat unit requirement for optimal growth in certain plants? Personally, I've noticed certain ornamental plants just refused to bloom if I planted them under too much shade. On the other hand, if Pumpkins thrive in partial shade, I'll definitely try my hand on growing them again in the future. Thank you for sharing the experience with me and others (who watch this thread). And if indeed, not all winter squash vines really rely on the additional soil contact along the vines, I'll stop worry about how am I going to rig up some "grow pouch" of supplemental soil/growing medium to support them. Like this container for instance, it would be a real challenge to bury some of the roots at some of the nodes of the vine that already grew vertically.

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

Lots going on here but at least you can see my pot of Sugar Cube melons there in the front. In the big green pot.

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Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Rita, those are looking great. Please keep me posted how your Sugar Cube melons turns out.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Okay, here is some update;
1. My very first female flower on calabash vine 2 days ago.
2. The same flower 2 days after pollination.
3. Bee is helping me pollinating the cantaloupe.
4. It isn't unusual for me to find two bees in a gourd's flower such as this.
5. One of the cantaloupe on a slender trellis.


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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

Looks good!

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Thanks Rita,
1. Calabash vine is huge and continues to climb up the arbor.
2. & 3 Luffa vine begins to produce both male/female flowers but only the female flowers are mature, not so with the males. Guess I'll have to wait a while before the vine is ready to set fruits.
4. I've more peppers than I can eat. Any one has a good recipe for me to pickle them please.

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

Those all look great also. Sorry no help from me for pickling peppers.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Umm, I googled pickled peppers. The process is quite involved. I'll check with a friend of mine for her recipe when I visit her next time. Thanks Rita.

Oh I do have this question. From your own experience, did your newly formed cantaloupe looks a little oblong like my picture above? After all, they are quite round when mature. I'm just curious.

North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

There are some varieties that are more oblong shaped and some varieties that are round. Mone are of the rounder variety and the fruits stay round.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Thanks Rita, come to think about it. The 'sweet melon' I sew was indeed an oblong-shape variety. It'll be interesting to see how my very first fruit turns out. Good night. :)

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

1. The oblong melon yesterday
2. The same Melon today.

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Central, AL(Zone 7b)

The calabash today, and the Luffas are taking off; making many fruits. Yeah!

1. The calabash fruit on day #7 after pollination
2. Luffa's male flowers; both male and females flowers are abundant at present.

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Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

I lost 90 per cent of my cucumbers and squash to disease and insects, lost the first bath of cantaloupe to disease, planted a second crop but don't have much hope for it, the rain just keeps coming day after day. I do still have water melons, but with all the rain I doubt if they have much "melon" taste I will try and get some pics, IT IS RAINING RIGHT NOW!

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Seedfork, I 'hear' your pain. This is one unusual wet-year we're having. The RAIN must be moving your way, you must be catching the tail end of it from us. It rained cats and dogs here last night.

I'm catching on with the bugs and diseases on growing veggies. It isn't all fun and game as I thought it to be, lol. I can really see what too much rain does to our garden. My neighbors' community garden looks beaten up this summer. It seems only the okras are thriving, tomatoes and others greens, NOT so much. Good lucks with the second crop. Keep the faith, it's either rain versus drought. Mother nature is unpredictable at time.

One positive thing I've noticed; having grown veggie in container, the excess water doesn't have the same detrimental effects, for with the well drainage growing medium, the plants seem to prosper this moonsoon rain we've!

I'm looking forward to seeing your pics. Have a good day in the garden everyone.

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Staten Island, NY(Zone 6a)

This is my first year planting Burpee mini sweet,I am getting lots of blooms and a few fruits are forming.I tried planting in the self watering buckets using the kitty buckets

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Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

Right now my melons are looking pretty good, the bog area they are growing in looks like a flood zone.

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

Wow, wonderful!

Staten Island, NY(Zone 6a)

Hi Seedfork, yours look like little basketballs wow I hope my melons do that well , do they like very wet areas?NY is having a lots of rain for a few days now.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Quote from cytf :
Hi Seedfork, yours look like little basketballs wow I hope my melons do that well , do they like very wet areas?NY is having a lots of rain for a few days now.


Welcome cytf to our thread, Seedfork can tell you that most plants can't tolerate 'wet feet' condition. They literally drown. Farmers in our SE region are suffering watermelons crops rots; a news I saw yesterday on the local news.

I'm going to spend a little time out in the garden today. More time with family the latter half of the weekend. I'll return for more update on Melons growing in the garden later.

Happy gardening everyone,
Kim

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

My intentions when planting the melons in the bog area with raised beds was to have the roots grow deep and water the plants, that way I would not have to water them every day. Normally we are in drought conditions at this time of year, or at least that is the way it has been the past several years. Now even the raised bed part is getting soaked everyday, sometimes twice a day. No, the melons do not like it, I have already had to pull several off and am not sure any of them will actually make it too maturity. Even if they do I am afraid they will be far more "Water" than "melon". For a "normal" year I think my plan might have worked, just not this year!

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Seedfork, I do remember our severe droughts. One year, my wonderful neighbor/fellow gardener friend whose bog garden went bone-dried; and he lost all his bog plants that very year. Indeed, if it's not feast it's famine for us.

My various melons/calabash continue to thrive, the fruits are getting larger, and larger. The number of bugs and pest in the garden also grow. Bahumbugs!!! I think I spotted pickleworms damage on newly formed melons, as well as flowers damage/chewed by cucumber spotted/stripped beetles. There are only a few spotted ones, but a lot more of those stripped beetles. They seem to have a very high fondness of these flowers, after they indulged themselves with the fresh pollens; they proceeded to chew on those petals! Ughrrrrrgrrrrr!

1. Petal of melon's flower being chewed by cucumber beetles.
2. Tiny hole on the melon itself was invaded by pickleworm.
3. Close up of the damaged fruit.
4. I boiled the damaged fruit/flowers which revealed pickleworm exiting the fruit.

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Central, AL(Zone 7b)

1. Oblong melon fruit
2. Calabash fruit; Day # 10 after pollination
3. Luffa, roughly 6-7" in length
4. and 5. These-- I suspect maybe a type of hybrid calabash in which the flowers are active at night. The flower petiole is reaching upward in search of night pollinators? Some of the petioles stems are as long as two feet! I haven't discovered the female flowers on this particular vine yet. Please stay tuned; I'll keep you posted of new development.

This message was edited Aug 7, 2013 7:00 AM

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Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Good news, bad news; the good news is I was correct assuming the white calabash flowers to be a type of night-active flower as evident by (AEB) they all wilted early by sunrise. (pic. #1 #2)

Bad news is that I found multiple problem on the melons. A large number of fruits are infested with what appeared to be "pickleworms". Including my large size melons (pic. #3). I'm so blue this morning. Grrrrrrrrrr!!!!

Also a pending problem with cucumber beetles, they've chewed down a good number of tender leaf and flowers petals. I'm anticipating bacterial- wilt ( A disease caused by cucumber beettles) to be the next problem to occur!!!

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Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Pickleworm decimated my melon's this year, too. It's a real bummer when you go out to pick a ripe melon and there's a hole in it. I have gotten *two* melons this year, out of about 10.

But pickleworm seems to be tapering off, so hopefully the later melons will do better.

North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

I ordered melon seeds I picked out from Park Seeds.
Melemon Melon
Dove Hybrid Melon
French Orange Hybrid Melon
Lambkin Melon
Inspire Hybrid Cantaloupe.

They came today but I will be planting them in the spring. I really can't wait to try them all!

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Oh Nicole, who would ever dream how destructive these little insects can rack havoc in the garden. I grow only a few vines in containers. And how do they zero on in to the melons/cantaloupe only. For the past two days, I've trimmed off many segments of the 3 melon vines I've got. One good thing about their habit is that they attack the terminal/distal tips of the vine, so I hope trimming the affected segments of the vines will stimulate more growth?

I'm glad to learn that they're tapering off. So they're tropical and won't over-winter here in our zone?

Other pests that bugging me now, are cucumber beetles. I hand picked them about couple dozens a day. Hope with small planting, and my keeping watch on them will keep their infestation down a bit.

1. Small puncture holes made by these pickleworms on my oblong melon.
2. Wilted vine and evidence of pickleworms' frass on the deck below.
3. The real mccoy; Pickleworm .
4. Evidence of damaged vine above.
5. A leaf petiole and stem was disected to reveal the worm inside. One can see a hole on the stem where they made their grand entry. Grrrrrrr.

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Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Hi Rita, those list is long! How are your current melons doing in the garden now?

North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

Oh, I am so sorry about the Pickleworms!

I ate my first cantalope from the garden this year today. It was one of the potted Sugar Cube Melons. I have those in two spots, in ground and in a pot. The ones in the pot have a lot more melons set than the in ground ones but the in ground ones are much bigger.

But it was very tasty and sweet, even if not very big. I knew it was ready becasue it is a variety that slips.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Yeah, they don't overwinter here. Just in south Florida and Texas. They come visit every year, though, some years worse than others. The old time solution was merely to get as much crop as you can early on and then call it a season with the pickleworm showed up.

I've never had them hit my vines like that, at least that I've noticed. But by now, the squash are usually so awful looking I don't investigate why. I just know the winter squash will ripen anyhow.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Urgh! Apparently the pickleworm didn't spare my gourd. I think this is a tiny hole visible from the large gourd today.

I'm declaring war on these species! LOL

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

Sugar Cube Melons on the vine.

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Central, AL(Zone 7b)

The SCM must be one of the resistance strands Rita? By far 100% of my melons/calabash are decimated by these bugger worms. Only the Luffas seem to be unaffected (?). I hand picked several dozens of those early instars yesterday. I also picked off some cucumber beetles. It seem I am gonna wave the surrender flag and concede defeated.

Nicole, in your case, at least you've 20% success. These bugs are really bad news indeed.

I'm back to ornamental gardening... I think.

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

It is resistant to fingal deseases. Not sure about anything else. It does taste wonderful.

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