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Old February 9, 2019   #1
oldman
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Default Watermelon Grownout 2019

I have a project for next year where I'm going to need quite a bit of seed. Because I'm too cheap to buy 200 seed of lots of different watermelons and not know what will grow well, I'm going to start with about 10 seed of each variety. I'm planning on starting 4 seeds indoors around April 15 and planting 3 seed outside about May 10 and another 3 around May 25 when I transplant plants into the garden. If I have less that 10 seeds of a variety or its germination rate is known to be less tha 70% I'm just going to start all of those indoors. Varieties will be kept together and isolated with rows of tomatoes running east and west (the wind is typically out of the south when they'll be blooming) That may be overkill as I still plan on hand polinating to make sure I'm not gettiing crosses before I want them.


The goal of having seed from varieties I can get to fruit locally is to do a landrace watermelon project starting next year. I want to eventually be able to get something edible and interesting by July 4 in Zone 5.



In no particular order here are the varieties I have to grow out.

Jubilee, Tendersweet (Orange), Moon & Stars (red), Tom Warson. Black Tail Mountain, Bradford, Charlston Grey, Pride of Iowa, Moon & Stars (yellow), Carolina Cross, Ali Baba, Halbert Honey, Yellow Morrow, Clay County Yellow Meat, Borries Yellow, Mountain Sweet Yellow, Rare Watermelone (red seed, gift in order, packing looks like seed from china?), Ice Box, Rattlesnake, Perola, Sun Gold, Chubby gray, Illniwek Red Seeded, Cobb Gem, Cream of Sasketchewan, Golden honey, Golden Honey Cream, Early Canada, Golden Midget, Stone Mountain, Super Redheart Stone Mountain, Dunbarton, Peacock, Arikara, Red-Seeded Citron, Calabria, wweet Siberian, Crimson Sweet, Black Seeded Ice Cream, Klondike 3, Verona, Bermuda Moon and Star, Iopride, Moon and Star Kansas, Moon and Star Minnesota, Texas Black Diamond, Fordhook, Red Seeded Ahahi, Texas Wheeler, Davis-Benny Citron, and three unnamed varieties from a professor emeritus at the local ag college. Maybe more.


I've never grown more than two different varieties at once. Will I need to do anything special for disease control or any other problems? Also, are there any varieties I should be growing that aren't on my list? Since my primary objective is seed should I still cull down to a few melons per vine? Is this gioing to be an insane amount of work or mostly just watering?

I plan on using this thread to provide updates, But won't be planting seed until April.

Last edited by oldman; February 9, 2019 at 07:52 PM.
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Old February 9, 2019   #2
Nan_PA_6b
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That's a lot of melons you're gonna have, oldman! If you taste even one of each, that's over 50! I guess you have a LOT of space?
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Old February 10, 2019   #3
oldman
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I've got two acres planned for melons in a four acre plot. The plot is fenced so rabbits can get in, deer might be able to jump in and out, but coyotes can't get through the fence (pig wire and cattle panels). I have an overflow option too, but I hope not to need it. Even with all the tomatoes buffering rows I'm reasonably sure they won't need all that space.

I'm willing to prioritize varieties if I could figure out the best way to do that, but with what I know now planting all of them seems to be my best option. If there are more varieties I should try I'm not opposed to more plants either.
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Old February 10, 2019   #4
greenthumbomaha
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https://ipm.missouri.edu/MPG/2018/11/noveltyMelonTrial/

If you are on the MO side you may wish to look into the project above.

Last year I grew both Arikaira and Blacktail Mountain, varieties that are said to ripen in short season areas. I had many melons, but only the first few ripened enough to be edible. It was an unusually long and hot summer, so I should have produced sweet fruit. Either my fertilization was off, or I let the vines grow too long and produce too much fruit instead of pruning and ripening just the first few to set.

I would like to find out what I did wrong, if you have any suggestions I will follow this thread. I have plenty of seed in my library from an original source that have germinated, should you need or want additional material. Sugar Baby was a similar epic fail for several years by my former growing partner in a different local garden.

I grew on black plastic (Dewitt Woven) so that should have warmed the soil, but I wasn't able to ready the spot until June 1. My season was over the end of September. I started seed indoors.

I purchased a plant from Kaw Valley Greenhouses which is near your area and that did produce a good watermelon. I'd have to check their website to see the variety.
add - Crimson Sweet was the successful grow.

Lisa

Last edited by greenthumbomaha; February 10, 2019 at 02:20 AM.
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Old February 10, 2019   #5
Whwoz
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Oldman, you may find that the citrons are more a cooking than eating melon if you are not aware..
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Old February 10, 2019   #6
oldman
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I know they aren't really watermelon, but that they would cross with them. Since I'm not planning on any crosses until next year I figured I'd grow them to see if they had good qualities. If I don't like some of these I'm unlikely to keep them around. I have the space now, but the number of plants I grow next year will probably require the whole four acres, so there's no point in keeping anything I don't like around.

Last edited by oldman; February 11, 2019 at 05:23 AM.
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Old February 11, 2019   #7
Tormato
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Siberian Lights (Sandhill Preservation) looks like it may be the earliest variety in their listings.
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Old February 11, 2019   #8
oldman
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@lisa I'm in rural Kansas. This year I'm growing out seed so than next year I can plant seed at one week intervals with the goal of having a few weeks were I have as many varieties blooming simultaneously as possible. I've decided not to do Crimson Sweet or All Sweet because they're crossed into so many hybrids already. But if you have some varieties that you think would be good PM me and I'll send you postage, trade some seed or whatever we can wotk out. You're about two hours north of me so your growing conditions are probably more similar to mine than anyone else's who's likely to read this.

@gary I've been resisting putting an order for Sandhill together because they have some really good tomato sales going on and I have no willpower. I suppose sometime this week I'll accept the inevitable and hunt up my checks (I think the last one I wrote was for seed) . Online bill pay and debit cards mean I don't need checks often. Conversely if Sandhill took PayPal or debit/credit cards I'd do more damage to my own growning plans than you did ;-)
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Old February 12, 2019   #9
saltmarsh
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Default 2019 Watermelon Growout

In 2018 I only grew one variety of watermelon Orange Glo. It's supposed to be a 100 - 120 day melon. I had ripe melons at 59 days from planting the seed. They were the sweetest melon I've ever tasted.

The melon patch consisted of 5 - 100 foot rows of earth bermed raised beds running from North to South with an inch of fall in 10 feet. Each raised bed was 7 feet wide (4 feet of bed with a flat 3 foot middle). Hills were 6 feet apart on the rows.

Monitor the soil temperature (use a meat thermometer) and when the soil reaches 60 degrees at 2 inches deep plant your seeds.

I have been using a product called Roots Biopack for 5 years to inoculate my seeds and plants and recommend it. To use it I fill a 2 liter plastic bottle about 3/4 full with water and use a small funnel to add a tablespoon of Roots Biopack. Shake well and top off with water. Use the drench within 3 hours. I have no financial interest in this company.

https://www.greenviewfertilizer.com/...x#.XGMRCGQzB8E

No commercial fertilizer or animal manures were used.

To plant a hill of mellons - start about 4 feet from the end of the row - use a hoe to remove soil so your seed will be an 1 - 1 1/2 inches deep when covered. Spread 4 seed out in the hill. Pour a 1/2 cup of the drench over the seed. Cover the seed with the soil you removed and tamp down with the flat side of the hoe. Move down the row 6 feet and repeat.

I use jigs (a piece of wood 1/4" x 1 1/2" x the length needed with a handle attached) and a tightline to put bamboo skewers where each hill will be. For this a 4' jig to start each row and a 6' jig for between each hill. Keep them out of the weather and they will last forever.

My soil was 61 degrees on May 1 so I planted.
After 3 or 4 days most of the seed should be breaking thru the soil.
When most of the melons have true leaves mix another bottle of drench and thin each hill to the strongest 2 plants, trying not to disturb the roots of the plants you are leaving (that's why you spread them out when planting). Pour a half cup of drench around each remaining plant and repeat at the next hill. Mix more drench as needed.

When the plants start to put out runners carefully hoe a 2 foot circle around each hill, just cutting the grass and weeds and using your hands to pull the grass and weeds you can't get with the hoe and use a weedeater on the remainder of the bed and middle (this allows the melons to become dominant). Repeat this when the runners are about 2 feet long. CAREFUL the runners have used their tendrils to attach themselves to anything available and it is easy to knock young melons off and break vines. Start by turning the runners toward the middles weedeating between the hills. Then turn the runners inline with the rows and weedeat the rest.

When you do this mowing you need to be sure you have your predator protection in place. As you mowed the melons you probably noticed some watermelons were larger. You should flag these melons so you can locate them in the patch later on. These melons will be the first to ripen and the sweet scent will attract the predators to the patch.
45 days from planting (June 15 in my case) you can expect to lose any unprotected fruit. In my case they ate over 50 of the largest and earliest. Heart breaking.

I covered 62 using Clothes baskets from Dollartree and needed 6 landscaping pins per basket to anchor them.

Harvest when the curlyque is dead all the way to the vine (when it has about a 1/4 inch of green it's about a week from ripe). and the belly is yellow and the skin is alligatored. This watermellon must ripen on the vine or it won't be fit to eat. Once ripe the melon will keep at room temperature for about 3 weeks. Refrigerate after cutting.

I don't know when the 50 I lost to critters would have been ripe or how much they would have weighed, the first melon I got to eat was ripe at 59 days June 29 and weighed 21 1/2 pounds. The average weight was 17 1/2 pounds.
After the first crop, the vines set a second crop and continued to bear until frost.

Oldman, PM your address and I,ll send you some seeds.




claud
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Old February 13, 2019   #10
Nan_PA_6b
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Well, I'm impressed. Gorgeous melons, great melon patch. 59 days! We can't hardly ripen a tomato in 59 days!
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Old February 13, 2019   #11
saltmarsh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nan_PA_6b View Post
Well, I'm impressed. Gorgeous melons, great melon patch. 59 days! We can't hardly ripen a tomato in 59 days!
Yes, I was surprized. We have a Watermelon carnival the first Saturday in August and I planted them for that.

I normally spray with a garlic - pepper tea to repell and confuse insects and predators, but hadn't sprayed the melons with anything.

The Roots Biopack stimulates seed growth and causes the plants to repel cucumber beatles.

If you look at the trellis to the right of the melon patch, the vines you see are 3 varieties of Japanese Cucumber separated by climbing lima beans. They were treated with the drench also.

The reason I'm using Roots Biopack is it's a cheap sourse of bacilis pumilus. I don't use it as a drench, just drench the seeds or transplants (dip the whole tray) and again when thinning the hills. Repels the beatles and doesn't interfere with the polinators.

After the predators attacked (deer mostly - hoof prints) I didn't think it would work since they had gotten a taste of the melons, but I bagged all the rinds and removed them, then sprayed melons and vines with the garlic - pepper spray with a molasses sticker. To my surprize it worked. No more damage. If it rained or we had a heavy dew I resprayed. Then after 2 weeks we had 3 days of drizzleing rain. It was't dry enough to spray and the damage resumed. Thats when the clothes hampers were installed. Lot of trouble - backbreaking work and makes it hard to tell when the melon is ripe. Next I installed .080 weedeater line 3' off the ground and that worked for the deer but not the other animals. Seriously considering chicken wire and electric fencing for this year.

Anyway I'm still smiling and enjoying gardening and trying to figure things out. claud

Last edited by saltmarsh; February 13, 2019 at 05:46 PM.
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Old February 13, 2019   #12
greenthumbomaha
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I like your method of harvesting huge watermelons- drive up as close as you can and bring a wagon!



An earlier thread om short season melons:
http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=46340


Due to the new inputs, I will gave plenty of time to rethink my melon grow. I learned about the strong early maturity advantage of seeds from melons grown far north. I don't have the room or muscles to do a comparison of the same variety from different seed source locations, but I hope someone takes this project up and reports back.



Is Siberian Lights the same as the more readily available Sweet Siberian? Sounds familiar, one might be from mmmm in a prior year.. It was sweet and early but got in the way of the mower. I was brave enough to eat from what was left smooshed in the grass... yes it really was that good. I'll eventually check for any left over tags. I think I sent seeds to mmmm?



- Lisa
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Old February 13, 2019   #13
oldman
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Lisa

Sandhill lists both varieties for sale so they are definitely not the same melons.

Sweet Siberian- 85 days- Elliptical shaped, medium dark green rind. Fruits are 4 to 6 pounds with apricot orange flesh. (An old Oscar Will variety).

Siberian Lights- 70 days- sent to us by several people for its earliness and productivity. It did very well from a July 3 planting this year and may be earlier than Blacktail Mountain. I will do a same day side by side planting next year to check. Fruit is similar in size and shape to Blacktail Mountain but it does not hold well. When they are ripe they are ripe
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Old February 13, 2019   #14
greenthumbomaha
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Thank you for the info, oldman. I usually do at at least a minimum of research before posting, but I am plum tired tonight.


Let me clarify what I tried to describe above. I meant a side by side of two plants of the same variety from different seed sources. For example , a poster mentioned they had success with Blacktail Mountain using seeds from a melon grown in a northern climate, while Blacktail Mountain seed purchased from a big company sourcing seed from a southern farmer did not ripen early. Just making sure we were on the same page.


PaulF is closer (Brownville NE) than I am to KS. He is a serious tomato grower and hosts a tasting every year. Not sure if he is a huge watermelon grower but he probably knows someone in the area that may have input you can source.


- Lisa
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Old February 14, 2019   #15
oldman
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I'm sure that norther growers do get plants of named varieties with slight genetic variations that, even after a few seasons, better adapt them to a shorter season. Since I'll be working with so many varieties they're going to have to make those adaptions eventually. Starting some seed early indoors, and preparing well before planting out should give my plants some advantages. But they needn't adapt faster so long as they do adapt. If I get an increase in seed this year I'll consider my efforts successful. The differences between zone 5a and zone 5b are pretty slight, especially since overwintering isn't a requirement. I'm more worried that pest are likely to be a problem than I am about growing conditions

I'll put an order into Sandhill later this month. They grow in Iowa so should have seed preadapted for some of my local climate's quirks, but not all. I'm pretty sure all the seed I have will grow and have time to set fruit and develop mature seed. I'll just have to see what happens and hope to put that time to good use.

Last edited by oldman; February 14, 2019 at 04:45 AM.
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