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Watermelons and honeydew melons are grown in tropical and subtropical regions. However, there are also smaller cultivars that you can grow as a container plant on your balcony, because with these varieties a watermelon grows to about the size of a football and a honeydew melon to about the size of two fists. The advantage of these varieties is that the fruits also ripen on the balcony.
Growing melons in tubs
Melons originally come from Africa. That's why you need a lot of sun and warmth on the balcony too. Ideally they get a place on the balcony that
- sheltered from the wind
is. However, since too much sun, especially at midday in midsummer, damages the melon plants, you should choose a spot that also gives the plants some shade when it is very hot.
tip: Some recommend placing the melon plants behind the balcony railing so that they get shade.
Melons feel most comfortable at temperatures around 20 °C. The maximum cold tolerance of the plants is 12 °C. Therefore, the outdoor season usually begins in mid-May at the earliest, after the ice saints, when temperatures do not drop below 12 °C at night. This low cold tolerance is also a reason why honeydew and watermelons do not thrive on north-facing balconies.
Melons need a lot of space above and below ground. Therefore, the planter should be able to hold at least 25 liters. A pot or bucket with a diameter of 50 centimeters and a height of 40 to 50 centimeters is ideal. This corresponds to a capacity of 50 liters of soil. So that the plants do not get waterlogged, the bucket must have drainage holes.
Watermelons and honeydew melons do not like being repotted. It is therefore advisable to put seeds or seedlings in the final bucket immediately.
Melons need a nutrient-rich and water-permeable substrate. Therefore, a mixture of
- peat-free soil
- Sand (bird or sandbox sand) and
- Fertilizer (compost or slow release fertilizer)
best for melons. The mixture should be approximately 2/3 soil and one part each sand and compost or compost soil. When filling the pot, proceed as follows:
- Put soil in the pot
- then add sand and compost
- mix everything well
- press down
- Repeat the process once or twice
Make sure that the "ingredients" are really well mixed, especially in the lower part of the pot, so that later the roots can find enough nutrients there as well.
tip: Place a few pieces of pottery shards on the bottom of the pot so that excess water can drain away and the substrate is not washed out. This layer of potsherds should be four to five centimeters high.
Growing melons from seed
Cultivation with seeds begins at the end of March/beginning of April so that the fruits are ripe by autumn. When growing from seeds, you should keep in mind that the usually recommended location on the windowsill is not available because of the size of the pot. There is also no outdoor cultivation, as it is still too cold in April, because the ideal temperature for cultivation with seeds is 20 °C. You should also attach the bucket to one bright place put. Once you get past that hurdle, growing watermelon and honeydew melon is easy:
- plant 3 seeds per pot (50 litres) in the ground
- evenly spaced in the center of the pot
- Planting depth: 2 centimeters
- cover with soil and press down
When the young melon plants show up, pluck out the two weaker ones. Only the strongest plant remains in the planter, as watermelons and honeydew melons need a lot of space.
If there is no space for the large pots, then there is an alternative for growing with seeds. Place the seeds, one per container, in spring pots or in nursery pots, which will rot. This allows you to put the seedlings into the large planter without damaging the roots.
If you want your watermelons and honeydew melons to grow from seedlings, only put one seedling in each planter. Proceed as follows:
- Planting depth: Soil must reach the cotyledons
- Gently press down on the soil
notice: When planting, be careful not to injure the roots of the seedling.
Watermelons and honeydew melons need a lot of water and nutrients. Since they also need a lot of space, you can also plant the melon plants in one trellis tie up. In this case, however, you should wrap the ripening fruit in a net and tie it to the trellis when they have reached a certain size and begin to get heavy. This is how you relieve the plants.
Honeymelons and watermelons are very thirsty, but the melon plants do not tolerate waterlogging. However, you can place the planter on a saucer so that the plant has water in reserve on hot days. Nevertheless, you should water melon plants every day in summer when the weather is good. In no case should the soil dry out. It is best to water the melons in the morning with lukewarm rainwater. Melon plants do not like cold water.
tip: When watering, be careful not to get the leaves wet. This increases the risk of fungal diseases.
Regular fertilizing promises a good harvest. Ideally, fertilize watermelons and honeydew melon every two weeks with an organic liquid fertilizer.
So that you can harvest a lot of fruit, you should put two watermelons or honeydew melons on your balcony. While each plant will bear both male and female flowers, with two melon plants, the chances of fertilization occurring are far higher.
You can harvest between six and eight melons per plant. The watermelon is ripe when it sounds slightly hollow when tapped. Another clue is that the stem gets small cracks. A honeydew melon is ripe when it smells really sweet. When the melon is ripe, cut it off the plant with a sharp knife. In order to keep it longer, you should harvest the watermelon or honeydew melon with the stalk.