Very early in Spring we start planting out all our summer vine crops ,including Watermelon, Rockmelons, Cucumbers, Squash and Zucchini. Being members of the Cucurbiteae family they require lots of space, plenty of water and good soil.
We always try to get them in as early as possible in September. They don’t cope well with extreme heat or the humid, soggy conditions of our summer months. They can then become prone to Mildew and other fungal diseases plus insects can then wipe them out in their weakened state.
You can grow them from purchased seedlings or from seeds. We normally use seeds as they germinate quickly. We always plant straight into the spot where they will be left to mature and provide the harvest. Plant several seeds in each spot and once they germinate leave the strongest plant. Don’t be tempted to grow them from seeds from a melon you purchased. Generally they are hybrids and not likely to sprout.
We make a small mound where we are going to plant them. Melons don’t like wet feet so the mound helps with the drainage. When watering we ensure that we stake where they are planted so that we can identify where the plant base is and only water the roots and avoid wetting the leaves.
Make sure they have sufficient space by allowing about a metre and a half between plants. Melons have fairly shallow roots and need lots of moisture. We mulch well around the base to help ensure the soil doesn’t dry out . The mulch will also help to keep the weeds down.
They will tend to sprawl and when this occurs, lift the ends of the vine and move so they grow in the desired direction. Once they start to get around a metre and half long you can pinch the tips which will ensure more branching and more crop.
If you have a very small garden you can try trellising them. We freeze a lot of the excess crop and have the produce available all year round.