Black plastic for melons?


#1

I did some reading and found an article saying that covering melon bed with black plastic increases production a lot. What is your experience with that? Here are some question that come to mind when I think about it.

  1. Have it to be solid black plastic, or landscaping fabric will work?
  2. Will not it cook the roots?
  3. Usually melons make additional roots on the vines, they will not be able to do so with plastic, is this disadvantage bigger than advantage of plastic?

#2

Are you refering to all melons? Or just watermelons.

I have grown lots of different melons including watermelons and never had roots come from the vines, now pumpkins will grow roots from the vines for sure. This answer is from my own experience only, don’t know what the books say.


#3

I use landscape fabric. It warms the soil, promotes earlier production, and keeps the fruit off the dirt.


#4

It won’t cook the roots. Once the vines shade the ground it won’t even warm the soil. I’ve used weed fabric many yrs and it’s a huge plus mainly for weed control.

Black plastic will work but you might need to irrigate underneath or poke some holes in the low spots. Go out after a rain and poke holes in the puddles.

The only disadvantage I’ve seen is that the plants have nothing to hang onto. In windy areas that means the vines can blow around which isn’t good. I put down some woven fencing or cattle panels to hold the vines in place.


#5

@thepodpiper, Tell you the truth I never checked if they do root, I know other cucurbits do, so I assumed melons do it as well. By the time I remove the vines, they all dry and crunchy. And yes, my question was for both melons and watermelons.

@fruitnut,
That is a great idea with netting! I am actually going to install drip hose under the mulch - natural or fabric - anyway. But I would prefer rain water still still to be able to get in, this is why I don’t want plastic, but rather use landscaping fabric.

I got all my answers, thanks a lot everybody!


#6

Galinas, how did your melons work out for you? What did you end up using?


#7

I did the black landscaping fabric and netting. It was unusually wet start of the season, melons didn’t come out too good. I think plastic prevented water to evaporate fast enough. From 4 watermelons only 2 survived, the ones that were planted in pair, I believe it is because they pull water faster from the same area, the rest had their roots rotten and I had to replant. When summer dried out, I had issues with watering - having drip hose didn’t help as it was going along the whole row, and actual roots where just in 4 locations. Watering above the plastic was not good as well, as water didn’t penetrate it fast enough and was running down to the lowest point , far from the roots. Picking was kind of hard as well, especially melons, they were growing on 6X6 area and to get to the fruit you have to step up in the middle, right on the plastic - it ripped the plastic and also made whole vine to move as you also disturb the net. But it is sure was no weeds! I think I will return to my regular leaf mulch next year.