Friday, 25 March 2016


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Melons are gourd like plants that are members of the cucurbitaceae family, and are closely related to cucumbers, squash and pumpkins. Common varieties that are easy to grow include cantaloupe, galia and honeydew.

Like all cucurbits melons are hungry, thirsty plants that love sunshine and take up a lot of space in your garden.  But you can get around this space issue if you grow them in pots rather than directly into the soil. It also means that is that they can be moved to a sheltered position or greenhouse as required.

You will need to start off your melon plants early in a greenhouse or indoors in order to make the most of the available sunshine. Start off your pots early in a greenhouse or indoors in March to give them a head start, taking the pot outside in May after the risk of frost has passed. You can sow seeds direct into the final pot or transplant melon seedlings into it.

Fill a small 9 cm pot with potting compost and place two melon seeds in each pot.  Water thoroughly and cover with a perspex sheet/glass to keep in moisture and place on a sunny windowsill or greenhouse. The melon seedlings should germinate within a week or two. Remove the weaker of the two seedlings when they are 3 cm high.

You can transplant the seedlings into their final pot when they have 2-4 true leaves. Fill a large 30 cm pot with a mixture of  potting compost and general purpose fertiliser and place one melon seedling in each pot. Water thoroughly.   Harden off your plants in a cold frame before placing outside.

Once small fruit have started to develop, remove all but the the best four on each stem. If the melon variety is not self-fertile, you may wish to hand pollinate. Select 4–5 female flowers on each plant (the females flowers have a swollen part at the base of the bloom); pollinate them by placing a male flower inside each female (one male flower should pollinate four females).

Melon plants like to stretch out so when grown in pots vertical height is required.  Use a stake to encourage your plants to grow up . Ensure you water well during dry spells and feed fortnightly with a general purpose fertiliser.  

Although melons require plenty of water and feed to grow and produce flowers, cut back on the watering and stop feeding once the fruits start to swell and the foliage dies back. Remove any further flowers and new growth.

If you are growing melon on a strong trellis, provide some support for the swelling fruit. A string bag or an old pair of tights supported from above will work. If you're letting the plant sprawl on the ground, place a tile or a piece of glass under each fruit to prevent rotting.

Melons are ready to harvest when they feel heavy for their size and are easily separated from the vine, usually July to October depending on variety. 

For related articles click onto:
Growing potatoes in pots
How to grow cucumbers in pots
How to grow melons in pots
How to grow cucumbers from seed
How to Grow Pumpkins from Seed
How to grow runner beans from seed
How to grow runner beans from seed
How to grow seeds indoors

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