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Subject:  Give a Newbie Some Direction

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South Dakota

I am planning to try a melon next year. I have been prepping a 8x18 plot with large additions of OM and manure the last two years. Can someone point me in the direction of some really detailed dairies from experienced melon growers. I live in SD, so journals from northern growers would be of particular interest. A couple dumb questions right off the bat.
Where in the 8x18 plot should the melon be started? In the center or on an end?
Do you want the melon to be on any particular place on the plant?
How many days does the average melon take to reach maturity? Days from seed, days from pollination?
Do most growers use soil heating cables and cloche for early start?
Anybody ever use coir to condition their soil? How'd it work for you?

Any other words of wisdom for a brand new melon grower? I've grown AG's for 3 years with a 963 PB, so I'm not new to extreme gardening, just the melon aspect. Always fun to learn a way to grow something new! Thanks in advance.

2/1/2021 11:40:58 AM

719.5 Pounder

North Of The Border


The watermelon section is chock full of good info, and is written by a northern grower. I am also new to watermelons, but I have seen this, and it has good info.

I think the end would be better, but I dont know.

7 to 10 feet out, on any vine, from what I've read is optimal for pollination, main vine may be preferred.

120 days to maturity, as a minimum, fruit can grow for close to that long, so plant around the same time as pumpkins.

Soil cables, and a cloche are a must, as they are even more heat sensitive than pumpkins.

Dunno about four, but it would probably help loosen the soil, which is good, as the roots run just 6 inches under the soil normally.

Definitely not a experienced grower, but I have done a lot of reading, so hopefully the advice should be good. Someone with more experience should definitely chime in.

2/1/2021 3:58:25 PM

big moon

Bethlehem CT

Welcome to melon growing. I know some big ones have been grown in South Dakota by Kevin Marsh. It's been a while since he kept a diary. I will take a stab at a few of your questions. Keep in mind that melon growers differ on opinion in many ways. So these are my opinions.
8 feet x 18 feet may be on the small side. perhaps you can let it grow a bit bigger than the allotted space. But if that is all you have for space I am sure you can still grow a nice big one in a space that size.
You want the melon to be on the main vine or a finger vine (thick vine that originates toward the heart of the plant)
I think it is better to have it about 8 feet out. Others have had them quite a bit farther out, still others have had them a little closer to the stump.
I would plant it in the center and let the vines radiate out from the center.
I plant mine in the garden in the middle to end of May depending on the weather. I have not been using a cold frame or heating cables thus far. Nothing can substitute for mother nature providing the right weather. Sunlight is so important.
Start your seed in early April (late March if you are going to graft). Grow them in 1 gallon pots. The early start should help get a good jump on your season. However, an early start won't help much if your weather is not sunny and warm.
Look to pollinate as soon as possible. Early July is good. (days to maturity is similar as to an Atlantic Giant) I have heard of 100 days of growth on a melon but for me I am happy with 65-75. Last year my 206 was pollinated in early July and went to a mid September weigh off.

2/1/2021 4:10:21 PM

big moon

Bethlehem CT

Make sure they have access to plenty of water and fertilizer. I think they respond to similar cultural techniques as the Atlantic Giant. Preventative measure need to be employed for insects and diseases. I find that disease is a bigger problem than the insects. Mites will ruin your season. Cucumber beetles can cause havoc especially early on. Mice love to chew on the vines. Melons can rot so keep them dry too. Some growers use shelves to keep the rinds well aerated.
Never used coir, so I can't comment on that.

2/1/2021 4:10:32 PM

big moon

Bethlehem CT

Good luck next year. I recommend looking at older diaries prior to 2015. Years ago, melon growing was new to the GPC and everyone had a diary. These days far fewer growers are posting one. Lots and lots of good information is in those old diaries. Sometimes it is not what the grower says, but what he does. Study the photographs.

2/1/2021 4:10:38 PM



If all goes well, you can grow a melon over 200lbs in 80 days. I hope I can help speed up your learning curve!
When starting melon plants get very leggy quick. so pull the bottom heat when they pop and keep the light on them close. The melon plant will grow, starting close to the crown, four or so larger vines along with the main vine. So you want a set on one of these or the main. Leave a few on for a few days to pick your keeper.

IMO having soil depth, like a raised bed is a must. Because underground, the plant will grow four or five larger main roots which will go very deep, if allowed. I have dug up root systems and three feet from the crown these roots will already be over a foot deep.

My biggest enemies, in order, Downy,Bacterial issues.mites,aphids,ants,hail, and cuc beetles. You may not have the downy problems where you are.
Good luck to you.

2/7/2021 9:28:55 AM


Hawesville, ky

Watermelons are interesting I've started to take a liking to them also. My biggest piece of advice would be not to plant them until the soil temperature is 70 degrees. I believe a plant being slapped in soil that's too cool starts problems before you ever get going good. Any more questions you can email me and I'll do my best to help. mccaslin.nick2@gmail.com

2/17/2021 1:59:48 PM


Buffalo, MN (Billsbigpumpkins@hotmail.com)

LJ I have grown three water melons over 225 and will try it again next year. I'm located 50 miles north of the twin cities. You should do well in your location.

2/17/2021 3:14:40 PM

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