Growing Melons In Colder Climates
Raising and Planting. From the cultural standpoint melons closely resemble cucumbers. They must be grown in greenhouses or frames and are not sufficiently hardy for outdoor culture. Seed should be sown and germinated exactly as for cucumbers. For an early crop, seed may be sown in a heated greenhouse (65°-70°) in January, but most amateurs will prefer to wait until March or even early April. The preparation of the bed is as for cucumbers and the plants are put in their fruiting quarters in the same way when they have made three or four rough leaves each. Water freely and maintain a damp atmosphere by frequent syringing and wetting of the path and walls. During the summer, shading may be required to prevent scorching, but should be as light as possible, as sun is necessary for ripening the fruits.
Training and Fertilizing. The main stem is allowed to grow unstopped till it is 6 ft. long, when the tip is pinched out. Flowers are produced on the side growths and female flowers may be recognized by the embryo fruits immediately beneath them. They must be fertilized by shaking male flowers with ripe, dry pollen over them. Four fruits are sufficient for one strong plant, and four female flowers to produce these should be fertilized at the same time; all other flowers must then be removed. Side growths should be stopped as soon as they start to interfere with those of other neighbouring plants. Fruits are weighty and must be supported by nets slung from the training wires. From the time fruits set, the plants should be fed liberally with weak liquid manure. Top dress with well-broken rotted manure when white rootlets appear on the surface.
Cultivation in Frames. This is similar, except that the plants are pinched as soon as they have made four leaves. The three or four growths produced as a result of this pinching are trained around the plant and stopped again when they reach the confines of the frame. They are pegged to the surface of the soil. As the fruits ripen they are propped above the leaves on inverted flower pots to catch the sun.
Varieties of Melon. Hero of Lockinge, King George, Superlative. For frames, Cantaloupe varieties such as Charantais, Dutch Net and Tiger.