Rising Information for Melons
- The longer melons stay on the vine, the sweeter they grow to be, however growers decide them early hoping they’ll be at peak ripeness by the point they’re delivered to retailer cabinets
- Melons comprise fiber, vitamin B6, folate, wonderful quantities of vitamin C and vitamin A, flavonoids equivalent to beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin to guard in opposition to age-related macular degeneration and potassium to guard your coronary heart
- Planting melons in mounds helps alleviate waterlogged fruits if there’s a number of rain, however a sunny location additionally helps dry them out shortly and stop illness
- Whether or not to plant melon seeds indoors or straight into the dust relies on your backyard zone, which, together with natural pest and illness management and some different suggestions, will assist guarantee a scrumptious crop of melons from your individual backyard
Candy, succulent and scrumptious, melons are one of many largest fruits, providing a unique taste amongst all different fruit choices. Why develop them your self?
One purpose is as a result of commercially grown melons are picked at a barely unripe state to outlive being shipped lengthy distances, and there’s additionally a very good probability they’ll sit in a truck, on a skid behind the grocery retailer or in a bin amongst dozens of others, in order that they’re picked once they’re nonetheless a bit inexperienced if growers and meals chains need them introduced on the market at peak ripeness.
Nonetheless, the longer melons stay on the vine, the sweeter and extra scrumptious they grow to be. That explains why you’ve in all probability bought what appears to be a superbly ripe melon on the grocery retailer however discovered it relatively bland as soon as it was reduce. The answer is rising your individual. Are you able to think about having vines that develop on the price of some inches a day and watching golf ball-sized melons forming that may flip into massive, juicy, delicious meals?
Melons comprise fiber, vitamin B6 and folate, plus wonderful quantities of vitamin C to combat an infection and vitamin A for improved imaginative and prescient. As well as, flavonoids embrace beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which is a carotenoid absorbed into the retina that will present light-filtering capabilities to guard in opposition to age-related macular degeneration.
Potassium in melons helps management coronary heart price and blood strain and protects in opposition to stroke and coronary heart illness. Manganese, additionally present in melons, is a cofactor for the enzyme superoxide dismutase, a strong antioxidant.
Origins and Kinds of Muskmelons (aka Cantaloupes)
There are numerous forms of melons; Horticulture at Oregon State College notes that though all melons are categorized as Cucumis melo, what’s grown within the U.S. are the netted, fragrant and Persian (reticulatus) varieties. True cantaloupes are grown largely in Europe (cantaloupensis), though most individuals within the U.S. name muskmelons cantaloupes.
Different cultivars are casabas, crenshaws, honeydews and late-maturing winter melons (inodorous), that are extra oval with a waxy floor, clean or wrinkled, and fewer aromatic. These start ripening because the climate begins to chill and require a full 100 days on the vine. There’s additionally the snake melon (flexuosus), grown in Asia, and the Oriental pickling melon (conomon).1
Muskmelons could be recognized by their vertical ribs and tough, camo-green pores and skin that appears prefer it’s coated over with tight-knit, tan netting. Rodale’s Natural Life explains that true cantaloupes have orange flesh and tough, scaly pores and skin with tough, distinct veins.2 In a nutshell, the historical past of cantaloupes is alleged to have begun in Armenia, from the place they have been taken to different elements of Europe, together with Italy, the place there’s a metropolis referred to as Cantalupo. All varieties have developed from centuries of fixed cross cultivation. As well as:
“The unique Cantaloupe was smaller and never fairly as candy as fashionable cultivars. Cantaloupes have been developed over time to attain uniform dimension, improved taste and illness resistance. This excessive degree of consistency has contributed to the Cantaloupe turning into probably the most broadly eaten melon selection in America in the present day.”three
What Melons Want for Optimum Sweetness and Texture
Sunshine and heat are price their weight in gold for optimum melon development. The requirement of a very good three to 4 months of heat climate, plus soil that incorporates loads of vitamins, will not be an excessive amount of to ask for these beauties to thrive and style great in your desk. Planting suggestions embrace:
- Planting seeds on mounds or raised rows referred to as hills, round 6 to eight inches excessive, will result in higher drainage (they don’t like to take a seat in water), and it helps rising melon vines retain the warmth of the solar longer.
- Seeds ought to be planted 1-inch-deep, 18 inches aside in hills that are about three toes aside. Once more, if house is restricted, fencing, trellises or different helps can be utilized to drive the crop to climb upward as a substitute of outward.
- Hold the soil melons are grown in evenly moist, however not soaking, as that generally causes the fruit to swell all of a sudden and grow to be watery. An excessive amount of rain or watering after drying out for a interval may cause waterlogging, in addition to cracking within the ripening melons, so attempt to preserve the soil at a constant dampness.
- Earlier than planting seedlings outdoor, harden them off by setting them outdoor in a sunny space throughout the day, then take them again in at night time.
- Soil that’s wealthy in natural matter is necessary to develop distinctive melons, so including compost is smart. Sustaining a pH of 6.5 to 7.5 is about proper for many backyard vegetation.
Apart from including a couple of inches of compost to the planting space, grasp gardener Mark Abbott-Compton, featured within the video above, advises feeding the soil with natural potash, aka potassium, and including an natural fertilizer constructed from deep-rooted comfrey vegetation. (Phosphorous fertilizers could harm not solely your individual soil over time however could contribute to dangerous runoff, the College of Minnesota Extension (UMN) notes.Four)
In line with Develop It Organically,5 potassium gives the vegetation with greater and higher immunity, flowering and fruiting, in addition to vitamins. The Natural Gardener6 explains tips on how to make a fermented comfrey extract that’s wealthy in potassium and nitrogen and acts as a pure pesticide.
Bits to Know About Rising (and Storing) Melons
Granted, melons do take up a number of house. Comparatively talking, only one watermelon vine can embody as a lot as 100 sq. toes and web solely two melons, whereas a 16-square-foot space can produce a mean of 16 muskmelons. If house is at a premium the place you reside, there are bush varieties that develop upward on a fence or trellis relatively than outward.
If a creating muskmelon is hanging relatively than resting on the bottom (and both is completely fantastic) it may well get so heavy that the vine can snap a couple of week earlier than the melon is definitely ripe.
To forestall this, Abbott-Compton makes use of a novel method: Discover a pair of sheer pantyhose that may be slipped over the melon and easily tie the legs to factors greater on the trellis to higher assist the melon’s weight. The tights will increase with out impeding the melon’s development, permitting it to stay on the vine for so long as it takes to develop peak ripeness.
It’s possible you’ll marvel tips on how to inform in case your melons are “prepared.” Abbott-Compton affords a couple of suggestions. One is to softly squeeze the melon, which is able to “give” barely when it’s ripe. One other clue is its perfume, which ought to scent just like the fruit inside.
Alternately, Specialty Produce notes that muskmelons will really feel heavy relatively than hole, and “ought to yield simply barely to finger strain at its blossom finish, which is reverse of its scarred finish, the place it was faraway from the stem.” 7 On a muskmelon’s twining vines, you get two forms of flowers. One kind is a female and male, which produces the fruit, and the opposite is only male, Abbott-Compton explains. UMN expounds on that bit of data with one thing fairly fascinating:
“Cantaloupe flowers have a pollination window of in the future. Pollen have to be transferred from the male flower to the feminine flower on this present day for seed set and fruit growth. Fruit dimension and form are associated to the variety of seeds set. Poorly pollinated flowers both abort or produce misshapen fruit.
The primary blossoms usually drop off muskmelon vegetation however this isn’t an issue. The primary flowers to seem on the vines are male. The feminine flowers, which open later, have a swelling on the base that varieties the fruit (the ovary). After bees pollinate these feminine flowers, the fruit develops!”eight
Rising Melons in Totally different Gardening Zones
In case your backyard occurs to be in one of many hotter climates, you’ll be able to plant straight into the soil after any risk of a chilly snap is over. You possibly can check the soil temperature; not less than 65 levels F (and 70 to 75 levels F is even higher) is beneficial to ensure germination takes place because it ought to. Nonetheless, seedlings grown indoors that develop both tendrils or greater than 4 leaves could have hassle getting established when you transplant them.
Melons have an extended rising time than another vegetation, so it’s necessary to get the seeds into the soil as shortly as doable after the final frost within the spring. To heat up the soil (and preserve it heat as soon as the vegetation are within the floor) you’ll be able to cowl it with cloth or black paper mulch a couple of weeks earlier than planting or transplanting.
Mom Earth Information9 suggests anchoring row covers securely with bamboo poles or 2-by-2 lumber. You can even use plastic jugs with the bottoms reduce out positioned over younger particular person seedlings to maintain them heat and shielded from critters.
Nonetheless, in case you occur to reside in one of many upper-U.S. planting zones, say, Zone 5B and decrease, which denotes a shorter season, it’s useful to know that planting a number of seeds one-half inch deep in Four-inch peat pots in a south-facing window or develop lights indoors works properly for melons. Skinny 2-inch-tall seedlings to the strongest plant by slicing off smaller begins on the soil degree.
Then there’s the top of the rising season to think about. A Canadian melon grower requested the Almanac what to do along with his properly rising melons as frost was turning into imminent and puzzled if it might hassle his crop. The reply:
“Like all melons and ‘water-heavy’ fruit, cantaloupes are certainly inclined to frost. You’ll want to cowl them with blankets or towels at night time to assist retain the earth’s heat after which take away identical throughout the day in order that they proceed to ripen within the solar. Labor-intensive, however it may be performed!”
It’s a good suggestion to file the day you planted so you’ll be able to roughly determine the time of harvest, which is usually 65 to 86 days, based on Heirloom Organics.10 A cantaloupe could be refrigerated for a couple of days if it’s already ripe till you’re prepared to make use of it, or if it’s not, saved at room temperature for few days till it’s.
Pure Strategies to Deal With Pests and Illness
One final bit of data that’s useful is that alongside the rising course of, a couple of issues, specifically bugs and illness, could trigger issues for natural growers. Bugs (which might really precipitate illness) embrace squash bugs on younger vegetation, squash vine borers that may tunnel via your vines, melon aphids and striped cucumber beetles (inflicting probably the most issues) that eat the leaves, stems and fruit.
Figuring out the precise pest is necessary to treatment the issue with out resorting to the usage of chemical substances. Ensure you look at underneath the melon vines’ massive leaves for harm, equivalent to curling leaves, and a sticky substance often known as honeydew (satirically), in addition to the bugs themselves. Residence Guides11 suggests:
- Suctioning them up with a conveyable vacuum and emptying them right into a bucket of soapy water
- Selecting them off by hand and dropping them right into a bowl or bucket of soapy water
- “Spray[ing] melon vines with a robust jet of water out of your hose, which is commonly sufficient to kill the vast majority of melon aphids, in addition to small pests equivalent to thrips and mites, that feed on the melon stems and foliage.”12
- An insecticidal cleaning soap constructed from three teaspoons of liquid cleaning soap per 1 gallon of water, completely sprayed on leaves each two or three days, plus after rainfall
Sawdust-looking droppings made by boring bugs are a clue to their exercise, as are wilted vines and/or holes within the stems. A naturally-occurring bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), solely poisonous to particular bugs, has been utilized by natural farmers to regulate crop-eating bugs. It’s readily available in shops; combine per instructions, fill a syringe and inject into the roots simply above the soil line. (This shouldn’t be confused with the damaging method Bt toxin is being utilized in genetically engineered (GE) crops like corn and soy.)
As for illness, one is known as damping off, attributable to chilly, moist soil. One other is bacterial wilt, which is self-descriptive. Powdery mildew is a fungal illness evidenced by white powdery spots on the leaves that may infect melons. You should purchase seeds which can be immune to illness, and additional shield your melons by not rising them for 3 or 4 years the place members of the squash household have been grown.13
Management weeds to assist stop such illnesses and do away with them. Hold vegetation spaced correctly, take away contaminated vegetation instantly and burn them. At all times clear your instruments and wash your fingers and gloves after working within the backyard. Rutgers College suggests Wollastonite powder, based on Natural Growers College, a web site that stresses illness prevention as the perfect treatment for rising melons or another backyard plant.14
Saving Your Seeds — One other Purpose to Develop Your Personal Melons
When picked at peak ripeness, the seeds are mature sufficient to reap the seeds for future planting, per Heirloom Organics:15
- Half the melon with a pointy knife, scoop out the inside seed lining and place the seedy pulp right into a bowl.
- Take away as a lot of the pulp as doable by hand to discard and add heat water to the bowl. Skim the floor of the water to take away floating seeds that gained’t produce vegetation.
- Rinse the remainder of the seeds to take away any remaining sugar and pulp and place on a display screen to dry.
- Permit the seeds to dry for about three days, then place them in an hermetic bag marked with the seed kind and the date they have been harvested. Place the bag within the freezer till subsequent season.
One more reason to plant your individual melons? There’s an actual chance that standard farmers have used chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides within the rising of most melons present in supermarkets. Melons have additionally been the supply of quite a few foodborne illness outbreaks, together with listeriosis. By rising your individual, you’ll know they’re freed from pesticides and are far much less more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing micro organism.
In case you purchase your cantaloupes, it’s finest to search for natural, but when that isn’t doable they are usually one of many least pesticide-contaminated crops. At the moment, cantaloupes are No. 39 on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Soiled Dozen record16 of probably the most pesticide-laden fruit and veggies.
Sources and References
- 1 Horticulture February 11, 2010
- 2 Rodale Natural Life April 2, 2011
- three, 7 Specialty Produce 1996-2017
- Four, eight, 13 University of Minnesota Extension 2017
- 5 Grow It Organically 2009-2017
- 6 The Natural Gardener
- 9 Mother Earth Information March 2008
- 10, 15 Heirloom Organics 2017
- 11, 12 Home Guides The way to Kill Bugs on Melons With out Chemical substances
- 14 Organic Rising College Natural Illness Management
- 16 EWG 2017