Easy and Succulent
The few melons that are produced from a rambling vine in my garden make me wonder
about devoting the time and space to it. Then I pick and eat one of them. The explosion of fresh musky flavour in my mouth and the ample juice dribbling down my chin rapidly banish any of those doubts.
Do I Have Enough Space? Melons are also excellent candidates for vertical vegetable gardening. We won’t wander into the vegetable/fruit discussion here. I grow them up an almost vertical section of hardware cloth and there are a couple of great advantages to my technique. Most obviously, they take up a lot less garden space and almost as important is the quality of the fruit produced. Each ripening fruit lays on the hardware cloth well above the ground. No invasion by slugs and other assorted creatures and no soft yellow spot where they were laying on the damp dirt.
How Do I Grow Them? Melons are decidedly warm weather crops so don’t be in a hurry to get them into the ground. I always start mine indoors about 2 - 3 weeks before I put them outside. They are very large seeds and grow quickly and don’t transplant easily so start them in large cell packs or small individual pots. They have only one move this way and the whole undisturbed soil ball is moved to the garden; resulting in very little setback. Do make sure the soil is quite warm when they move into it. Lots of good rich compost is a big help as they need to eat rather heavily to support the rapid, extensive growth. Plant them right at the base of the hardware cloth and take some time for the first couple of weeks to show them where it is. Once they start climbing they are pretty adept at finding their own way.
What’s The Structure Look Like? The Melon climber is one of the simplest structures in my vertical vegetable garden. A couple of 2"x2"s about 6 ft long are laid against the back fence and each one has a nail protruding near the top. The hardware cloth is then just hung from those nails. You can put another pair of bent nails at the bottom to stop the wire mesh from curling up or sliding off to the side. That’s all there is to it. Lean, hang, grow. The fruit will be clean, bug free and delicious.
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