This is my method of getting melons up early outdoors. I can’t remember a failure even with seedless watermelons which are notoriously hard to emerge even when planted indoors.
These are in basins for irrigation purposes and covered with black weed barrier. With dry soil plant the seeds about 1-1.5 inches deep in the seam between sheets of weed barrier. Close the barrier back over the seeds. I fertilize with nitrogen because my soil is deficient. Cover that with clear poly and water heavily. At night cover with insulation to hold in the heat gained by the soil during the day.
My only mistake this yr was not checking the Savor melons at 3 days. By the time I checked at 4 days some of those already had stems 2-3 inches long under the black weed barrier. I thought they’d be OK but 3 of 6 seeds planted didn’t make it. That leaves 3 plants that emerged at day 4, just enough.
This morning at day 6 the seedless watermelons are emerging right on schedule. Cantaloupes take 3-4 days, diploid watermelons about 4-5, and seedless a day or two longer. Don’t expect this to work in cloudy weather. It’s been sunny and about 80/45F here lately.
The general area
Seedless melon emergence
The Savor area
Diploid pollinator planted today
I guess the key is the clear plastic
And the black underneath. Black to absorb, clear to hold in the heat.
The other thing is this keeps an even and high water level without being too wet and zero need to rewater. Seedless are sensitive to water level and rewatering in the middle of trying to get them up may be too wet.
This method would work for those plants that need very shallow planting maybe like carrots. No light and high even water. Just check often for emergence. Skip the clear poly for cool season seeds. Just cover with anything opaque to hold in the water and get temperature where you want.
Less than a month after emergence my melons are running and the Savor has first flowers.
The wire is just something for the tendrils to grab so they don’t blow around in the wind.
Fruitnut - looking at your picture you obviously are growing on some type of black material. Do you think I will have any problems with this -
I will use the black plastic strictly as ground cover to control weeds. I grow from raised boxes. The vines/watermelons will lay on black plastic. Doesn’t the black plastic cook the watermelons? Sorry if it seems like a dumb question. .
I grow on the woven weed barrier. Black plastic will work if you can manage the watering.
The melons love the heat. They shade the plastic so it’s not as hot as you might think. I’ve never seen heat damage to the vines or melons in 100F heat.
As you can see in fruitnuts setup you should allow some structure on that plastic for the vines to get a hold onto. Last year I missed that and lost 60% of my plants in high wind. The long vines started to shift and broke apart.
We normally don’t get that kind of high winds in the Virginia Piedmont, but you never know. The only thing I have readily available is an old piece of cattle fencing and it pretty rigid (and warped some). I will have to look at it.
@fruitnut, could you please post the link for woven weed barrier you use? Or point to the manufacturer and name of it? How many years you can keep it under the sun?
It’s the Lumite from Shaw fabric products. It’s lasted 10 yrs or longer in full sun unprotected.
How soon can you eat watermelons when planting this early?
July is easy, June sometimes. It depends on the weather, your climate, how hard you work to keep them warm, and getting them pollinated. The bees never did show up this yr. I had to hand pollinate to get fruit set and I wasn’t as attentive as needed. Still I ate Star Brite from early July thru Sept.
It doesn’t get above 60F here at night on a regular basis until June. But it is cool enough in summer that the plants are still alive even being planted in March. Seems like a long time for a watermelon.