Whether you're sat out in the sun enjoying one as a snack or having one as a healthy dessert, melon is definitely a fruit we associate with this time of the year. They're juicy, tasty and refreshing, and there's nothing better than slicing one in two and tucking in with a spoon!
Our Gardening Angels have been growing melons in a greenhouse for the past few months, waiting excitedly for the tasty fruits to ripen! Well today was the day and Gardening Angels Maria was one of the lucky ones who got to sample some of these delicious creations. Take a look at the video below! Don't forget you can subscribe to the Greenhouse Sensation YouTube channel by clicking here.
Although there are some varieties which can be grown outside in mild climates, melons are best planted in a greenhouse or polytunnel in the UK. They are tender plants and need warm sunny conditions to thrive.
Sow your seeds in a Vitopod from mid to late April. Fill a seed tray with compost and flatten the compost down lightly. Use a Tamper to firm and level the compost, as this removes air pockets that can lead to water logging. Space the seeds evenly on the surface of the compost and cover the seeds with approximately 1-1.5cm of compost. It is a good idea to sow a few more than you need.
Water the compost so that it is damp but not saturated and place your seed trays in a Vitopod, and keep at a temperature of 18°c. Open the vents of your Vitopod once all of your seedlings are visible - this prevents damping off.
You can transfer the plants to a 3 inch pot once they are 2cm high, which usually takes about 2-4 weeks. Transplanted plants should have 2-3 mature leaves and a well developed root system when they are moved into pots.
Gently loosen the seedling using a dibber and lift the seedling by its seed leaves (not by its stem). You can then transfer to the new pot and gently firm the compost around the plant. Ensure that the compost is always moist but never waterlogged. If possible, transplant on an overcast day to minimize wilting and create a more amenable environment for your young plant.
Our Gardening Angels highly recommend using a Solar Quadgrow for this final stage. Its combination of solar-powered drippers, FeederMats and super-airy alternative to compost (HydroCoco), all work together to provide roots with lots of access to oxygen, water and nutrients resulting in 3-4x bigger harvests.
Once the roots start to appear at the bottom of the 3 inch pot it is time to transfer the plant to its final growing pot. Remove the plant from its pot and place in the hole. Surround the plant with compost, firming compost around the plant and add more compost to fill the pot. As before, do not saturate the compost with water, it only needs to be damp.
When flowers appear make sure the plant is well ventilated to encourage pollination. As your plant begins to produce fruit you will need to support these fruit with netting. If the fruit is in contact with the ground place a tile underneath the fruit to prevent discolouration.
Look out for the melons beginning to crack near the stem, this is your cue to start harvesting. Their distinctive melon smell is also a good indication that they have ripened. When you've got the green light to harvest, make a clean cut in the stem using a pair of secateurs.
You may see a white powery deposit on the leaf surface, which is known as Powdery Mildew. Keep the humidity high around the plant to help prevent this.
Red Spider Mite can create a pale netting on the leaves, while they hide on the underside. Again, increasing the humidity will help prevent infestations. They can also be controlled by introducing a natural predator such as lacewings. See our Lacewing habitats.
Our Gardening Angels are here to help you win the war on pests! Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any questions on 0845 602 3774 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're always happy to help!