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Old October 3, 2020   #1
GreenThumbGal_07's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Northern California
Posts: 300
Default Summer 2020 melon report from Sunset Zone 17

Well, I thought I'd finally post an update (see earlier Container Watermelons thread). It's hard to grow good melons in Sunset Zone 17 (Northern California with maritime influence) but it is worth it to try.

Melons: Ha'Ogen, Madhu Ras (both from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds).

Watermelons: Sangria F1 (local nursery), Bush Sugar Baby, Crimson Sweet (latter two from Burpee)

Containers: Madhu Ras and the watermelons were grown in Grow Pro Grow Bag 7 gal. fiber pots (Madhu Ras = 2 vines to a pot, watermelons = 3 vines to a pot), Ha'Ogen was two vines in a Grow Pro Grow Bag 15 gal. pot initially shared with the Sir Crunch a Lot F1 cucumbers, two vines of each).

Seeded: All were direct seeded except for the Sangria F1 and the Madhu Ras, which were transplants.

Soil: Soil used was SuperSoil or some similar organic potting mix, with no gravel or sand layer for drainage.

Fertilizer: Fertilizer was generally some organic fertilizer such as Espoma Tomato Tone or Down to Earth or Alaska Fish Fertilizer, applied every two weeks, though I did add some Jobe's Tomato Spikes and Miracle Gro as well.

Situation: Plants were situated at a back cinderblock wall that initially received about 6 hours of good sun at the beginning of summer but was shaded in late summer. Trained up the wall on a nylon netting trellis.

Diseases: Plants were subject to powdery mildew in late summer, with Ha'Ogen being hardest hit. Madhu Ras was pretty resistant to it.

Pests: None really but I did have to cover the pots with black plastic bags to discourage digging animals.

Pollination: Honeybees LOVE Ha'Ogen melon blossoms, they liked Madhu Ras also, no need for hand pollination. Watermelons absolutely needed it as the bees seemed indifferent to these flowers, so I used a sable paintbrush when I saw an open female watermelon blossom.

Yield - melons: Ha'Ogen gave up about four little underripe fruit that were barely beginning to ripen, about the size of a softball, very seedy. Madhu Ras (I accidentally tore out one vine at the roots) yielded three little melons about the same size but were riper and a couple actually released from the stem by themselves or with a gentle tug, very large seed cavity and very seedy, but riper and sweeter with a pleasant flavor.

Yield - watermelons: Crimson Sweet produced two small fruit (24 oz. and 30 oz.) that were barely pink inside and had white seeds that were underdeveloped. Lightly sweet, sweeter than a cucumber. Bush Sugar Baby produced one 9 oz. fruit that though it was less ripe than the Crimson Sweet fruits, had a more pleasing flavor. Sangria F1 produced a 6.5 lb fruit that was true red inside with some black seeds, moderately sweet. Used the "brown tendril" test and "yellow ground spot" test to determine ripeness, no ground spot on a suspended melon, though.

Flavor: I would rank Bush Sugar Baby first in terms of flavor (disregarding the ripeness level), followed by Sangria F1, then by Crimson Sweet. I know these were grown under less than ideal conditions but I hope to give the melons more sun next time I grow them. Will try Sugar Baby (not Bush) and Blacktail Mountain, perhaps also Small Shining Light, next time.

Takeaways / lessons learned:
* Do not immediately discount growing the longer season melons just because one is gardening in a cool area. The Sangria F1 and Madhu Ras melons are supposed to be meant for a hotter climate, and I was surprised they did as well as they did.
* Transplanted melons have an advantage over direct seeded melons (do not disturb roots when transplanting).
* Two melon vines per 7 gal. pot MAXIMUM. I think the Ha'Ogen vines (planted along with the cucumbers in the same pot) suffered from having to share the space.

Anyhow, that's my summer 2020 melon report.

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