I have been growing melons vertically with limited success for years. I would get nice looking vines that would cover a 7 foot trellis, and I would get several fruit. When It came down to it I would only get two or three cantaloupe, and a watermelon. I can't remember ever getting a crenshaw melon. I keep trying because I know they grow where I live, you can buy lots at the local farmers market. I keep trying year after year thinking it's bad soil, not enough or to much water, the wrong variety, ect. ect. Last fall I put wood chips in an area of our yard that only grew weeds. I thought I would help suppress the weeds, and just look nice. I grew a bunch of veggies from seed this year and had more then would fit in my veggie garden. So I thought why not throw it in the wood chip area. WOW what a difference. The wood chips have been on the ground about 6 months maybe a bit more. I pulled back the chips down to the soil. I loosened the soil and filled the hole I made with organic compost with a little blood and bone meal, and some Bio-Live (Down to Earth, mycorrhizal fungi and bacterial species) I planted my little plants and water when the leaves begin to droop. The amount of leaves are so thick I don't know where they were planted any more. The space is being totally covered, it's beginning to be hard to walk through the space. There are more melons growing and larger then I have ever had.
I have a ways to go, and a lot can happen between now and eating amazing melons, but I think they do much better grown where they can spread along the ground then growing them vertically. Now you may be saying it's the wood chips and you may be right, at least somewhat, but I know what I have added to the soil in my raised beds, and I don't think that is the only factor.
I have Crenshaw melon growing in my raised bed and it is doing well. There are several melons and two are quite large. The vines have grown well (some of the leaves a few days ago started to turn yellow. I put compost tea on them I hope this will help) The raised bed they are in is a new hugel beet completed late winter 2020. There is no mulch on the soil because it has been planted so densely you can't see the soil to mulch. About a week maybe even two after I planted the crenshaw in the raised bed I planted crenshaw in the wood chips. (started exactly the same, time, seed, soil, ect.) There is no comparison. The wood chip crenshaw has lots more vine, looks healthier, and has more fruit, and two are full size, just need to color up. The cantaloupe isn't so dramatic a difference. It was planted like the crenshaw 10 to 14 days later but every thing else was the same. I would say the raised bed cantaloupe has more vine and the cantaloupe are bigger then the ones in the wood chips. At this time I would say the cantaloupe are doing equally. The one in the wood chips are where the raised bed were a couple weeks ago. I have never had any luck with watermelon. I grow sugar babys to because they are small. If we are lucky we get 1 a year. I can't compare watermelon. Since everything was doing so well in the wood chip garden I bought regular sized watermelon plants. One is doing super well, it is spreading like mad looks super healthy, and has lots of little watermelon on it. One has not grown much since I planted it, it looks healthy, it just isn't doing much, One is doing ok. I surrounded it with old fire wood to try to keep the chickens from digging it up. It worked, and is not crawling over the wood, I'm betting it will take off now that it can get more sun. I tried to plant a watermelon on the east side but the chickens won't leave that one alone, I even covered the second one I planted there with a wire cage and they still managed to get it. My sugar babys arn't doing well, but that is because the tree behind my garden has grown to large and is shading that part of my garden 1/2 the day.(need to get that pruned) It may kill it this late in the game but I'm going to transplant a couple of the sugar baby watermelon plant to the wood chip area and see what happens, I don't think I have anything to loose at this point. Time will tell.
I'm posting this to help other people thinking of growing melons vertically, and to gain knowledge from those of you who have also experienced something similar. I look forward to your comments. Thanks.
There are lots of factors yet to come, not to mention my chickens can help themselves to the melon any time they like, but I'm thinking at least at this point maybe I should grow melons vertically only if I don't have the space to grow them horizontally.
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” — Abraham Lincoln
I'm growing pumpkins for the first time this year, and noticed that where the vines are in contact with the soil they send down additional roots. My strongest vine is the one that got down 3 extra sets of roots quickly after transplanting, compared to the ones that did not. Still not fruit setting for me though. I seem to only have male flowers!
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