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Jen Fulkerson
Post     Subject: Marking melons for watering

I would love to greatly reduced watering. It's why I built a hugelkultur, and am converting my raised veggie beds into hugel beets.  In my hugel beet and in my wood chip garden if I don't water the squash look great, but don't set fruit.  If I water once a week i get tons of squash.  My hugel beet is less than a year old, so I hope it will get better in a year or two.  Also I do live in California,. So the temp is high 90's most of the time climbing in to the low 100's now and then.  The humidity is low, and we had a super dry winter.  All that factors in.
I will still trellis vines next year, but I think I will primary grow the vines on the ground.  Production is more important than convince and looks.  Sad face.  Thanks everyone.
Lauren Ritz
Post     Subject: Marking melons for watering

@Jan White

This is what I've seen. First year in my yard I get a small germination rate and a smaller survival rate. 2nd year, that doubles, and by the third year the plants are monsters trying to take over the world. :) It's amazing what adaptation can do.

Save seed from the best!
Jan White
Post     Subject: Marking melons for watering

Michael Cox wrote: "Lots more water than you think they need". And theirs were seriously impressive. Have you the possibility of trying a side by side test? One patch watered and another not?



I don't have running water. The first year at this property I hauled endless buckets of water for my squash. They did well, for the conditions I was working with. The next year, one patch got a bit of water and one patch got none. I saved seed from the plants that did the best with little to no water. After that I stopped watering altogether. This is my fifth year growing squash here and my unwatered squash this year look better than the heavily watered squash the first year. They're way bigger and greener than the naticoke landrace I'm trying out from the experimental farm network, so I don't think it's just the improvement in the soil over the years.  I'm too lazy to haul water now that I know I don't have to ;)

This year I'm also growing squash in completely undeveloped areas - areas no same person would rely on for food. They're small and struggling, but one plant in particular has two fruits on it already, same as most of my squash in beds.

I've heard that dry farmed melons taste better, which is the main reason I (try to) grow mine with out water. I don't have the room yet to focus on more than a couple main crops each year, so melon development has been neglected. I have a couple problems leading to fruit set too late in the season, that I need to devote some space to to work out of the genetics.
William Bronson
Post     Subject: Marking melons for watering

Growing squash up or down the sides of a mesh ring of mulch could offer lots of rooting opportunitys.

Lauren Ritz
Post     Subject: Marking melons for watering

Michael Cox wrote:I toured a country house here in England a couple of years ago, with grand formal gardens but also lots of vegetable and herb gardens as well.  I happened to bump into the gardeners and comments on how amazing their squash plants looked compared to mine. Their answer "Lots more water than you think they need". And theirs were seriously impressive. Have you the possibility of trying a side by side test? One patch watered and another not?



It probably depends on what you want. I have pumpkins growing with little water (I gave them a gallon last week for the first time this season) and pumpkins growing with regular water. I have zucchini growing in the same conditions. The biggest thing with lots of water is lots of green. Both have positives and negatives. When I did zucchini completely dry they still produced, in flushes of 6-8 squash at a time. The zucchini in the dry area have fruit on them, but they're a few weeks behind the regular garden zucchini. For me, using less water is a good trade.
Michael Cox
Post     Subject: Marking melons for watering

Jan White wrote:I'd be tempted to just not water them, especially seeing as you have them mulched. I don't water my squash, which grow in veeeery sandy soil, and don't get any rain for 2+ months. I haven't had success with melons yet, but that doesn't seem to be a water issue.



I toured a country house here in England a couple of years ago, with grand formal gardens but also lots of vegetable and herb gardens as well.  I happened to bump into the gardeners and comments on how amazing their squash plants looked compared to mine. Their answer "Lots more water than you think they need". And theirs were seriously impressive. Have you the possibility of trying a side by side test? One patch watered and another not?
Tj Jefferson
Post     Subject: Marking melons for watering

I deep mulch with wood chips and melons are something that I use in year 1&2 on fresh beds. In my experience I have never seen one root, unlike squash. I have maybe 60 plants and often have to move a section of vine off a path or something. Squash I would never be able to do that, it would have rooted a few times in that section of vine. That makes melons much harder to grow in chips, because a hill that never germinated just ends up as an empty spot, while the squash fill in every space. This has made me psychologically much more likely to kill a crappy underperforming squash specimen! A better neighbor will gladly grow into that area.

Melons also seem to be much more calcium sensitive. I have to add hydrated lime near the base to prevent blossom end rot. The squash seem to be able to find it somewhere along the vine and move it around.

I would trust Joseph’s take on this and just figure they have some pretty substantial root system, but coming from a central source, while squash has mini roots in several places. I haven’t seen summer squash root now that I think about it, just moschata. I’ve never had a winter pepo live long enough to find out.
Jan White
Post     Subject: Marking melons for watering

I'd be tempted to just not water them, especially seeing as you have them mulched. I don't water my squash, which grow in veeeery sandy soil, and don't get any rain for 2+ months. I haven't had success with melons yet, but that doesn't seem to be a water issue.
Annie Collins
Post     Subject: Marking melons ECT.

Lauren Ritz wrote:
Makes me wonder about the possibility of air rooting the vertical plants--pockets of soil wrapped around the stems so give the plant the opportunity to root vertically? I'll have to think about it. Maybe train them on a block wall and fill some of the blocks with soil?



What a great idea! That sounds like a feasible option! I may try that next growing season. In fact, I may try it all 3 ways next growing season and see how much of a difference I find among the plants.
Lauren Ritz
Post     Subject: Marking melons ECT.

Annie Collins wrote:So it makes sense that Jen was seeing better than ever melon plant growing when she let the vines sprawl and grow out to sides rather than growing the plant vertically. It sounds like that's the better way to grow melons. That's a shame for people that have small properties and not much room to let them sprawl.



Makes me wonder about the possibility of air rooting the vertical plants--pockets of soil wrapped around the stems so give the plant the opportunity to root vertically? I'll have to think about it. Maybe train them on a block wall and fill some of the blocks with soil?
Lauren Ritz
Post     Subject: Marking melons ECT.

Mike Haasl wrote:Has anyone done an autopsy on the roots that a squash puts down from the vine?  Are they big root systems or are they just anchors to keep the vine from blowing in the wind?  I'm assuming they do all the things a normal root system would do but I figured I'd ask.



It depends on the squash. Some pumpkins have small shallow root systems from the stems. A banana squash I'm growing right now puts down massive root systems from the stems (the root "spike" coming off the stem at every junction is probably 1/4 inch around). I think it depends on the time of year they root, on water available, and on the soil. Also, some squashes re-root more easily. I have had plants seemingly killed by squash bugs come back from those secondary roots, so I try to encourage them.
Michael Cox
Post     Subject: Marking melons for watering

I’ll do one at the end of the season. Given how quickly they rooted - 8” of decent root in under two weeks - I would expect them to become full root systems.
Mike Haasl
Post     Subject: Marking melons ECT.

Has anyone done an autopsy on the roots that a squash puts down from the vine?  Are they big root systems or are they just anchors to keep the vine from blowing in the wind?  I'm assuming they do all the things a normal root system would do but I figured I'd ask.
Michael Cox
Post     Subject: Marking melons ECT.

With my pumpkins I let them sprawl a bit, then trained them up something. Most are now rooted in three or four places, beyond the original planting spot. I spiralled them round and pegged them down.
Annie Collins
Post     Subject: Marking melons ECT.

Michael Cox wrote:They can also send down new root where the vine rests on the ground. As an experiment I pegged a pumpkin vine down in a few places and each spot put down new strong roots. I’m assuming that extra roots is a good thing!



So it makes sense that Jen was seeing better than ever melon plant growing when she let the vines sprawl and grow out to sides rather than growing the plant vertically. It sounds like that's the better way to grow melons. That's a shame for people that have small properties and not much room to let them sprawl.
Michael Cox
Post     Subject: Marking melons ECT.

They can also send down new root where the vine rests on the ground. As an experiment I pegged a pumpkin vine down in a few places and each spot put down new strong roots. I’m assuming that extra roots is a good thing!
Jen Fulkerson
Post     Subject: Marking melons ECT.

Wow that is an impressive root system. Thank you.
Joseph Lofthouse
Post     Subject: Marking melons ECT.

I believe that the roots extend underground as wide as the vines extend above ground. Therefore, i like to water the whole neighborhood.

Jen Fulkerson
Post     Subject: Marking melons for watering

I usually grow my melons vertically in my raised bed veggie garden, so knowing where to water isn't a program.  This year I decided to put my extra veggie and fruit in an unused area of my yard that I covered with wood chips last year.  I planted 3 different kinds of watermelon, honeydew, Crenshaw, and 2 cantaloupe.  There's also tomato, and zucchini.  The melons have grown, and are producing better than I have ever experienced.  
Watering now has become quite a challenge.  I don't know exactly where the plants go into the ground.  I found the watermelon, but the Crenshaw and honeydew are so thick I can only guess.  Next year I will make it easy on myself and put a marker of some kind next to the plant so I will know what area to water.  I just thought I would share this  to save someone else from making this mistake.  Happy gardening.