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Old May 1, 2011   #16
tuk50
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brokenbar, what is the purpose of digging a three foot hole to plant into? Did you have a problem with your subsoil.. I notice the soil you put back in isn't full of compost or nutrients... I've never done that and get great melons, I do however have automatic irrigation that is necessary here because of the lack of rainfall from May to July. I dig about a 3ft diameter pit about a foot deep and mix my garden soil 50/50 with composted horse manure and stall bedding straw, that seems to work here. I'm willing to try the holes with peat moss and sand if I understood the reasoning. That's a lot of work and I'm basically lazy, unless it helps to get better tasting melons....LOL. My sandy loam is about perfect for melons and there is no lack of heat here so I'm willing to try anything once.
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Old May 1, 2011   #17
MikeInCypress
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Kath,

These people have a lot of melons - did you check them out?

http://www.willhiteseed.com/categories.php?cat=82

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Old May 1, 2011   #18
kath
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Kath,

These people have a lot of melons - did you check them out?

http://www.willhiteseed.com/categories.php?cat=82

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Hi, Mike-

Thanks for the link. They have lots of melons but I didn't find any bush varieties. Am I missing something?

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Old May 1, 2011   #19
brokenbar
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brokenbar, what is the purpose of digging a three foot hole to plant into? Did you have a problem with your subsoil.. I notice the soil you put back in isn't full of compost or nutrients... I've never done that and get great melons, I do however have automatic irrigation that is necessary here because of the lack of rainfall from May to July. I dig about a 3ft diameter pit about a foot deep and mix my garden soil 50/50 with composted horse manure and stall bedding straw, that seems to work here. I'm willing to try the holes with peat moss and sand if I understood the reasoning. That's a lot of work and I'm basically lazy, unless it helps to get better tasting melons....LOL. My sandy loam is about perfect for melons and there is no lack of heat here so I'm willing to try anything once.
I mix in aged horse manure also which I forgot to say. The three foot hole is to allow the tap root to travel down quickly. When you set the plants out, they just set there doing nothing for about two weeks (or so it would appear) In that time the tap root is traveling down. Then the plants just explode.

Originally, I came from a ranch in the California desert right near the border of Arizona and Mexico and there is no better place to grow melons as you well know (El Centro...watermelons up the wazoo!) I never grew melons as good as the ones in Wyoming. They get "to size" much faster and ripen much quicker. I had read an article written by this 91 year old man who won every year at the fair with his watermelons and this method is what he did.

In Wyoming, "days to maturity" was always a foot race to first frost. We had over 60 melons and two that topped 50 lbs the year before last which is the last year we grew them. I have read elsewhere about the "taproot" issues with watermelon and how, if disturbed, they just pout. All I can say is that it worked...superior fruit that matured faster (I do use old tar roofing shingles under each melon which also helped a lot.) I used to use the tractor auger but the holes were too big and took to much of the "mix" to fill them. Husband hired the neighbor kid to dig holes with the hand-held post hole digger ()

My soil in Wyoming was heavily amended or otherwise, it would have been a sandy/bentonite gumbo mix that was slightly alkaline. Mostly, digging the hole is to give the tap root that great unfettered start.
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Old May 1, 2011   #20
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Thanks for the explanation, I try to get my melons ripe by the 4th of July and then plant another batch for later, and I just seeded the second round in the greenhouse and will try a few hills with the hole method. I'm very curious if this technique will be faster in my garden.
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Old May 1, 2011   #21
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Thanks for the explanation, I try to get my melons ripe by the 4th of July and then plant another batch for later, and I just seeded the second round in the greenhouse and will try a few hills with the hole method. I'm very curious if this technique will be faster in my garden.
Two "seasons"...I would have envied you before but now, I too dwell is the land of "who cares how many days to maturity"!!! I also read that getting the tap root deep is supposed to lead to more efficient water usage and having to water less. It might help you speed your 2nd season up...after all, that "two whole weeks of frost" might get ya!!!
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Old June 20, 2011   #22
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OK. Hopefully Brokenbar will see this. I planted Blacktail Mountain about 3 weeks ago. The plant hasn't really grown at all. It doesn't seem to be doing anything at all. I doesn't look diseased or sick in any way. Just kind of hanging out. What gives?
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Old June 20, 2011   #23
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OK. Hopefully Brokenbar will see this. I planted Blacktail Mountain about 3 weeks ago. The plant hasn't really grown at all. It doesn't seem to be doing anything at all. I doesn't look diseased or sick in any way. Just kind of hanging out. What gives?
Not Brokenbar, but they don't seem to do much until it's HOT...what have your temps been like? Could still be getting established and growing their tap root. I'm growing Bush Sugar Baby this year and it just started to run this week and I'm in zone 6.
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Old June 20, 2011   #24
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Planted mine from greenhouse to garden about june 1 and it set for about 2 or 3 weeks and put on two or three leaves, then in the last week it now has the first runner about 18inches or so long. I tried the 2ft deep post hole refilled with composted horse manure, about a gallon of christmas tree mulch and about a quart of worm bedding and about a cup of cottonseed meal and a 1/2 cup of bonemeal ... I mixed this stuff all together and filled the hole and put about 6 inches of garden soil on top and put the watermelon set in it... so far so good and it is running over a 100 degrees every day here now.
The race is on.. first round vs the post hole second group... LOL!
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Old June 20, 2011   #25
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I also planted Blacktail Mountain this year. I planted in ground seeds on May 15th. I have just started getting fruit to set. Probably about 8 or 10 so far on about 12plants. I have been hand pollinating every morning when I find a new female blossom. Grew these last year using the hole method and growing them on top of a black swimming pool cover staked down to the ground. Works great and no weeds.

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Old June 21, 2011   #26
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Watermelons LOVE heat. They grow more melons in El Centro California (hotter than the Devil's sweat lodge!!!) than any other place in California. I don't know the answer to this but I wonder if melons, like tomatoes, need that night time temp to be at least 60 or warmer in order to set fruit? I never had a single problem with fruit set in Wyoming. We also had scads of bees as the Bee Keeper kept 15 hives near our alfalfa fields. I know I had limited nights above 60 (I counted one year and only had 65 nights above 60 degrees...) All I know is that using "THE HOLE" method () I grew the best watermelons I have ever grown.
I use a soaker hose and soak them over-night 2X per week. The soil in Wyoming, even heavily amended, dried out pretty quick (and the infernal wind did not help either.) They grow GREAT in Mexico and as I said in another thread, the watermelon extravaganza is in full swing here. All those seedless (bleeehhh tasting) watermelons in your grocery store are coming out of Mexico. Truckload after truckload goes by every day.

I forgot to add that at the end of a season, I dug up one watermelon plant carefully and that tap root was LONG...It also had laterals going out 2 feet off of the main root. And it is really true that when I set them out, they set there and "veg out" for a couple of weeks and just when you are ready to abandon hope, they take off.

Alright, I am off on vacation. Hope everyone has a wonderful season. I finished 60 quarts of marinara sauce and 48 quarts of Salsa Verde this weekend and that was the end of my canning (lots are going home with my son in October...)
I have dusted off my huaraches, bought a new sun hat and loaded up on SPF 35 (Lupus...sun is bad...) And I also funded Amazon for a full year downloading books for my Kindle (LOVE the Kindle!!! If you don't have one, GET ONE. Thought I would hate it because nothing beats a book for me but boy, it really exceeded my expectations.) Hasta la vista mis Amigos!
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Old June 21, 2011   #27
tuk50
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dipchip2000, was the hole method any faster for you? This is the first time I've tried it and can't tell yet.
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Old June 21, 2011   #28
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Brokenbar, thanks for the advice. Stay away from the tequila and keep out of the sun as much as possible. Have a great summer.

Post the Salsa Verde recipe sometime if you get the chance.
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Old June 21, 2011   #29
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...The melons were slightly smaller than a cantaloupe and had excellent flavor, especially compared to Sugar Baby which I did not like at all.
Oh man! Don't tell me that. I'm trying Sugar Baby this year. Oh well...

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Old June 21, 2011   #30
dipchip2000
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tuk50

I had never grown watermelons before so the hole method is all I have tried. It did work great for me and I am doing it again this year on top of black tarp again.
I also planted some cantaloupe on top of the tarp and we will see.

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