Sow seeds 1cm (½”) deep. Set transplants 60-90cm (24-36″) apart in rows 1.5-2m (5-6′) apart.
Days to Maturity: From transplant date.
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.8. Choose a warm, well-drained soil. Add dolomite lime and compost or well-rotted manure to the bed and ½-1 cup of balanced organic fertilizer beneath each transplant. Melons need warm growing conditions. Use black plastic mulch, cloches, or floating row covers. Success may improve in raised beds. Melons plants require 8-10 weeks of good, hot growing weather from the middle of June to the end of August. During that time, a melon vine must grow 5-9 leaves before starting to flower, then set 4 or more male flowers before making its first female flower, and then ripen its fruit before cool, damp weather sets in. Melons do not ripen off the vine. During the entire growing season, make sure to provide ample water.
Fruit will ripen in late August to early September. Ripe cantaloupe will easily detach from the vine when light finger pressure is applied to the stem. Watermelon is ripe when the tendril nearest to the fruit withers and dries up.
In ideal conditions at least 60% of seeds will germinate. Usual seed life: 3 years. Per 100′ row: 60 seeds, per acre: 5.2M seeds.
Diseases & Pests
Botrytis blast and downy mildew are common leaf diseases. One starts with white spots and streaks, the other with purple-grey areas on leaves. Leaves wither from the top down and plants die prematurely. Separate the overwintered and spring crops because disease starts in older plants and moves to younger. Avoid overhead watering and plant in open sunny locations. Use lots of compost and practice strict sanitation and crop rotation.
Melons are great companions for corn, marigolds, nasturtiums, pumpkin, radish, squash, and sunflowers. Avoid planting near potatoes. Melon leaves are full of calcium, so they’re good for the compost heap.
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