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Melons Melons

According to many of the seed catalogues I read every winter (listing, preparing and choosing what to grow next), there are now a selection of melon varieties that will ripen well outdoors in the UK. I must admit however that despite trying these every year for the last 4 years, I have never succeeded. I have succeeded however using a cold frame, and in the greenhouse, and the results were fantastic.

Growing Melons

Melons need warmth, and a moist and fertile soil. If growing them in a greenhouse then plant them in a grow bag, or a pot of multipurpose. If growing outside in a cold frame, then dig in plenty of organic matter beforehand. In fact with melons you can even use partially rotted manure or compost – this will produce heat as it continues to rot and give the melons that little bit of extra heat they need to grow.

Buy plants from a reputable nursery in mid spring, or raise from seed. If raising from seed, it is possible to sow the seed directly into its final growing position, however better results will be had by starting them off indoors in a greenhouse (or failing that on a cool windowsill)

Plant them out into cold frames from May onwards, planting each one about 1m apart. Try not to disturb the roots when planting and water thoroughly.

When the plant has produced half a dozen leaves, then pinch out the growing end to encourage side shoots. Then in time pinch out all but the strongest four or five side shoots, and then when the fruit develops, limit the fruit to one per side shoot.

If growing in a greenhouse, then they will require support. The commonest method is to pinch out the plants growing point when it is six inches high, then train the two strongest side shoots up canes, and remove all others. The exact method of support is less important, I have a wire frame in the greenhouse and I allow them to clamber over this pruning them in a very similar way to that mentioned above for growing in cold frames.

One disadvantage of growing melons in a greenhouse or cold frame is that they will need hand pollinating. Melons produce both male and female flowers. Female flowers are recognized by the swelling of the embryo fruit behind the blooms. To hand pollinate melons take one of the male flowers and remove the petals, then simply press this against all the female flowers…. That simple!

Phyl @ The Allotment Gardener

Lifelong gardener and allotment enthusiast. Now have 3 allotments!

More in this category: « Strawberries Blueberries »
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