Friday, July 18, 2014

Melon Mayhem

It's melon mayhem, muskmelon madness.

As melons will, mine have taken over, spilling over and through the fence and onto the cement. Who am I to stop them? 

Today I counted 13 honeydew melons,
 7 cantaloupes (muskmelons), 
7 Crenshaw melons (my favorite),
 and many fury baby melons too young to identify.

I can hardly wait for them to ripen. It is a daily joy to check them. I have my eye on one honeydew I am certain will be ready soon. Patience is a gardener's challenge!

I just read that honeydew melons lose their fur when they are ripe. I took a closer look and indeed the immature ones are fury.
Can you see the tiny hairs? 
While the most ripe one is clean shaven.
Although it is hairless, I don't smell that fruity scent that tells me this beauty is ready to be picked.
I planted my melons in 4 mounds in one of my beds. As suggested on the seed packet, I made an elevated mound and planted 5-6 seeds in each mound. Almost all of them germinated and grew. Unfortunately I didn't thin them as recommended which contributed to them being so crowded. That's a newbie mistake, I will know better next year.

You can see the melon mounds in this picture taken in May. The soaker hose is looped over each mound. (There are strawberries and parsley planted to the left of them in the bed). I planted them in succession to prolong my harvest.  

From top to bottom they are: 
cantaloupe planted on 05-05-14 (They have not germinated in this photo.)
crenshaw planted on 03-30-14
honeydew planted on 03-01-14 (the largest plants)
and at the bottom are cantaloupe planted on 03-20-14.
Melon mounds planted in succession.
May 8, 2014
It astounds me how rapidly they grow. Here they are a couple of weeks later, spilling over onto the empty area next to the bed.
May 23, 2014
And today my cup runneth over.
Melon patch on July 18, 2014.
When you plant your melons, consider that the vines will grow toward the sun. I chose that spot to plant them because there was room for them to spill onto the empty area. Next year I will plant them in another bed which will not be as convenient, but rotating crops is important to keep yields high.

It is not all laughs and giggles in my melon patch, oh no. We have issues. Lots of issues.
One look from this angle and you can see problems in the middle, the leaves are looking a bit yellow.

A closer look tells a tale of mayhem.
It's a multitude of problems including aphids, chlorosis, powder mildew, leaf miners of some sort, and who knows what else. There's a battle going on and I'm losing. I have tried Neem oil which burned the leaves, soapy water which helps somewhat with the aphids, Epsom salts which definitely has helped the chlorosis (yellowing leaves). Despite how pitiful some areas are, the fruit is growing.

I just hope the fruit matures before the war is lost and the vines die. Fingers crossed!

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