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Whether as a fresh snack in summer or mixed into a salad over the winter, honeydew melons, like watermelons, are among the most popular pumpkin plants (bot. Cucurbitaceae) of all. If you want to grow the fruits yourself in the numerous flavors, colors and sizes, all you need is suitable seed, the right location and detailed instructions that explain the individual steps in terms of care and cultivation. Then there is a rich harvest.
growing honeydew melon
Difference between cantaloupe and honeydew melon
Before you start sowing the melons and planting them in the bed, you should first understand the difference between honeydew melons and cantaloupes. Honeydew melons are a variety of cantaloupe melon (bot. Cucumis melo) that belongs to the cucumber genus (bot. Cucumis). Basically, melons belong to two different groups: the watermelons and the sugar melons. Sugar melons include more than 500 different types of melons, including Charentais and honeydew melon. That said, if you want to grow honeydew melon, this is one of the many varieties and varieties of cantaloupe.
These are divided into three groups, which you may have thought of as a separate type of melon up to this point:
- Winter melons such as the Futuro melon or the yellow canary
- Netted melons like the Galia or Shipper melons
- Cantaloupe melons (bot. Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis) like the Charentais
It is the yellow canary with its smooth, yellow skin that you will mainly find commercially as honeydew melon.different types of melon
tip: Do not be confused if, when purchasing the seeds, you come across the terms "Honeydew Melon" or "Amarillo" instead of "Honeydew Melon" or "Yellow Canary". These are just more synonyms of the same type of melon.
Since melons are not as robust as potatoes or local fruit trees, the timing of cultivation is very important. If you sow the plants too late, they won't have time to mature and you can forget to harvest. In order not to miss this time frame, it is necessary to have honeydew melons in the house preferable, which makes sowing much easier. The ideal time for this is from the beginning to the middle of April. Follow this guide to quickly germinate the seeds so they can be planted out a few weeks later and harvested from August through fall:
1. Prepare seeds
Fill a thermos with lukewarm water and pour in the seeds. For the next 24 to 48 hours, these must now soak. This increases the germination capacity of the seed.
2. Growing pots
While the melon seeds are soaking, you should prepare the seed pots. You need one pot per seed, as these are melons and these are already seedling and young plants lots of space require. These are filled with classic seed soil.
After soaking, the seeds are planted directly into the seed compost. Sow these two to three centimeters deep into the soil. Now cover the seeds with some sand and moisten them well with a spray bottle.
The pots are now placed in an indoor greenhouse or covered with cling film. This will keep the soil and seeds warm and moist. The required germination temperature is 23 °C-25 °C. Place the pots directly on the windowsill, as the seeds need sufficient light to germinate. Don't forget to open the plastic wrap daily to allow fresh air to get to the seeds.
Keep the soil sufficiently moist, but watch out for waterlogging. Only use lukewarm water for this, because melons do not tolerate cold water. On average, the seeds need between eight and ten days to germinate. When the first seedlings appear, you have to set the temperature to around 20 °C, otherwise it will get too hot. However, the temperature must never fall below this. Also remove the clear film.
Give the seedlings a portion two weeks before planting out green plant fertilizer. This prepares them well and gets a little stronger.
tip: You don't have to prefer honeydew melon if a fast-growing variety like 'Cezanne F1' has been chosen. You can sow these directly into the greenhouse in the spring using the same method.
location and soil
In the end, the space in the greenhouse or for the varieties that can be planted outdoors does not differ. Especially with the honeydew melon, it is important to use a suitable substrate so that they receive sufficient nutrients and can ripen well. The location and soil should have the following properties:
- Light requirement: sunny
- sheltered from the wind
- pH value: 6.2 - 6.5 (slightly acidic)
- no waterlogging
- finely crumbly or granular
- Floor temperature: 23°C - 25°C
- Air temperature: 25°C - 35°C
At the beginning you should protect the young plants from direct sunlight so that they are not stressed. Gradually acclimate them to more and more light.
tip: You should never plant melons in locations where cucurbits have already been planted the previous year. The soil there has a negative effect on the growth of the Cucumis melo and increases the susceptibility to diseases.
Planting melons: instructions
Growing the young plants is not difficult if you follow this guide:
1. After the ice saints, the danger of late frosts is over and you can plant the melons in the greenhouse or in the bed if you have chosen the right varieties.
2. Incorporate fresh compost at the honeydew melon site to improve soil quality. The distance between two plants must be between 80 and 100 centimeters so that they do not grow together. So prepare the individual beds well. If the soil is still too dense, you can add some more sand.
3. Now remove the melon plants from the seed pots. Be careful not to damage the roots as they are very fine and can easily break off.
4. Once the plant is in the ground, equip the site with a trellis for tendrils of the melons to cling to. This will improve the growth and overall vitality of the plant.
5. Moisten the soil well and devote yourself to caring for the honeydew melon over the next few weeks so that you can then harvest ripe fruit. You can recognize ripe melons by the withered leaves and a hollow yet dull sound when you tap the rind.
You do not have to consider more when planting the honeydew melon.
tip: If you want to counteract possible loss of drought and nutrients, you should apply a mulch film before planting. This effectively supplies the Cucumis melo varieties throughout the summer.
Once the young melons have moved into the greenhouse or outdoors, they must be treated with all the necessary care steps until they are harvested. Of course, this includes watering, fertilizing and other measures, which you can find in the following list:
- water regularly
- the soil should always remain slightly moist
- Avoid waterlogging at all costs
- Water only with lime-free water
- Rain, filter or stagnant water are ideal
- fertilize every two weeks from May to the end of August
- suitable fertilizers are mature compost, chicken manure or horse manure
- this is well incorporated into the soil
- Water vigorously after fertilizing
- in June, pinch off all but four leaves of the tendrils
- in midsummer, the side shoots are also shortened
- these are also shortened to four sheets
- Only use clean and sharp tools for these cutting measures
The availability of pollinating insects, especially bees, is important for the pollination of the melon plants. For this reason, you should ventilate your greenhouse every day. The exchange of air also improves the vitality of the honeydew melon. Once your plants have finally produced fruit, you should place them on a base. Styrofoam and wood are well suited for this. The base protects your future harvest from excessive moisture and thus possible mold growth. It is also necessary not to let the honeydew melon develop too many fruits:
- only 6 honeydew melons per plant
- Remove remaining flowers with fruit set
- do this step as early as possible
This care step prevents the honeydew melon from expending too much energy on fruit development. As a result, the cultivated melons are larger and have a more intense taste.
If you grow your melons in a greenhouse, you should also look out for fungal infection caused by the Fusarium wilt respect, think highly of. This disease, caused by the Fusarium oxysporum fungus, is in most cases only found in the greenhouse if you plant your honeydew melon in a spot that was used for cucurbits the previous year. As a result, the honeydew melon begins to wither and slowly die. There is nothing you can do about this, apart from relying on resistant varieties and rotating the locations for the melon plants every year.
tip: In addition to Fusarium wilt, your specimens can also be attacked by aphids, red spiders and powdery and downy mildew. With the right care, however, you can prevent this and enjoy rich harvest yields.