Grow Guide Conditions:
Melons are a frost sensitive, heat loving crop, requiring 90°F temperatures during maturity to produce sweet fruit. They grow best on light, well drained soils with a pH between 6.0-7.0. Plastic mulch or floating row covers are often used to increase soil and air temperatures in cooler regions, but covers must be removed during flowering to allow for insect pollination. Grow with drip irrigation to reduce mildew and other foliar diseases. Provide ample water and nutrients throughout growing period to maintain green healthy foliage.
Grow Guide Seed:
Melons are most commonly direct seeded, although transplanting is necessary in areas with shorter seasons to achieve maturity. Optimum soil temperature for germination is 80–90°F, but seeds will germinate at soil temperatures as low as 65°F. Direct seed 4 weeks after the last spring frost when weather is warm and settled. Plant seed ½ to ¾ inches deep, 3 seeds grouped together every 12-24 inches, allowing 36-48 inches between rows. Thin to one plant per spot. To start indoors, fill 4 inch pots with a sterile seed staring mix. Plant 2 seeds per pot and thin to one plant by snipping off the weaker seedling at the soil level. Harden-off seedlings for 5–7 days prior to transplanting. Melons do not like having their roots disturbed, so transplant 3–4 week old seedlings outside carefully after all danger of frost has passed and weather is warm and settled.
Grow Guide Pests:
Practice 3 year crop rotations among all Cucurbit family crops (cucumbers, melons and squash). Foliar diseases such as Powdery and Downy Mildew, Alternaria Blight, and Anthracnose can be minimized by using drip irrigation and mulching to minimize splash-dispersal of spores. Spray young seedlings with insecticidal soap, pyrethrins and neem oil, or cover with floating row cover, to prevent cucumber beetle damage and the bacterial wilts they can vector, but uncover plants during flowering for pollination. Control aphids to prevent mosaic virus. See our merchandise section for related products.
Grow Guide Harvest:
Most of our melon varieties are ripe when the fruits separate from the vine (‘slip’) by themselves. This is usually accompanied by a warming in the rind color from light green to gold or tan. Exceptions are noted in the variety descriptions. Watermelons are generally ripe when the first leaf and tendril located where the fruit is attached to the vine turns dry and brown, and the pale spot where the melon sits on the ground turns from pale green to yellow. Listening for the hollow sound emitted when thumping the watermelon with your finger is less reliable. Sugars in melons will not increase after harvest. Reduce or cut off watering 10-14 days before fruit matures to concentrate sugars to enhance sweetness. Store in the refrigerator.