Melons for cold climates

Thu. Apr. 11, 2019

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Melons for cold climates

Melons are warm season plants to the extreme. Raise your hand if you’ve tried growing melons and got nowhere!  

This is a guy named Stu…

Days to harvest is REAL important here along with full sun and space. When I say full sun I’m talking a minimum of 8 hours of direct sunlight.

Recommended cultivars for watermelon include ‘Sugar Baby’ at 79 days to harvest and ‘Blacktail Mountain’ at 70 days to harvest.  

‘Sugar Baby’
‘Blacktail Mountain’

As for cantelope, try ‘Minnesota Midget’.   The days to harvest are 65 to 70.  Or ‘Athena’ with 75 days to maturity.  

Cantelope ‘Minnesota Midget’
Cantelope ‘Athena’

The important thing is to keep the cultivar you choose to less than 90 days.

You can get a jump start on warming up the soil by placing black plastic on your garden space, preferably a raised bed, now. (unless it’s covered in snow!)  Remove the plastic before planting.

Ideally the soil temp will be around 70 degrees or more. Transplants are favored over seed but it’s not impossible. Work in plenty of compost in the soil to aid drainage.  Water your plants deeply and more than the rule of thumb. I usually tell you an average of one inch a week, the recommendation for melons is 2 inches per week from Susannah Shmurak in her article in Northern Gardener magazine.  Once the fruit sets, then drop back to an inch a week (that includes rain). If you can use a soaker hose, even better.

Melon vines are susceptible to powdery mildew. When the fruits start forming, place them on straw. 

Check out this article from the University of MN Extension on growing melons in the home garden.