Watermelon & Melon Growing 2019

I’m not a fan of growing melons on trellises. It’s a lot of work
and a recipe for disaster. I let the plant do what it wants to do.
If it has too many fruits, it will abort them naturally.


When you are dealing with 6000sq feet for all you needs( including dwellings, compost, garden and orchard and located on 6 different levels) trellis are the natural way to go, other choice is not to grow at all. :wink:

I almost always agree with @rayrose and this is another case where I do. First, in spite of lots of people saying the thin their melons, I never have and find no reason whatsoever to control the number of melons per plant- they will support whatever they retain, and if they set to many some will be aborted as Ray said. It can happen even after it sets fruit and the small melons start growing. If there are too many, the plant will just stop feeding some and they will turn black and fall off if there are too many. If not, they will grow to maturity. I’ve seen plants with only 1-2 melons and plants with 6-8 melons both produce similar sized fruit. The number per vine doesn’t seem to matter.

I fear you are in an uphill battle trying to grow watermelons on a trellis but I completely understand your reasons for doing so. I my experience, for whatever reason, while the vines will certainly climb up a trellis, the higher the vine gets the harder the plant has getting proper nutrients to the developing melon, and the result is that melons more than a foot or two above ground level just don’t do well at all. Not only do they not get large, but they don’t ripen well if at all. They sort of get to the size of a softball or a little larger and just stop and stay there all season.

Of course you have already started your project (I hope) and I’d never want you to give up based on my experience- and honestly I haven’t tried very much with trellises. You also may have better soil or climate or a different type melon or some other reason that it works for you, so I hope you prove Ray and me wrong! Please keep us posted, and good luck.


Yes, I already started and the longest branch already reached the top of the 6’ trellis and started to descend. I am growing Shiny Boy there, it was specifically marked for growing on trellis. It is not expected to be more than 20 pounds, and I am OK with it, it is just 2 of us. I think as of now I will have enough melons at 1-2 foot height for one plant, but at least I can keep full 12’ branches on 4’ footprint to provide sugars to the plant. Other two, Sugar Baby and Mini Love (even smaller fruit) have much shorter trellis , and not vertical, but 45 degree angle to let the garlic bellow to finish development. Those I do not worry about, as they climb up the rocks anyway, if it is not trellis. In my yard nobody complains about growing up for long. The choice is simple - you either grow up or not at all. :smile:


Like I said, I encourage you to try and hope you succeed and you certainly might- I haven’t put much effort into trellising watermelons-just tried once or twice for fun and didn’t have much luck. Again, the vines had no problem climbing high, but the higher the fruit itself was, the worse they performed. I actually have a watermelon vine this year that I forced to climb the stairs to my back deck (only about 3 feet from ground level to deck level) and I’m going to see if the vines can grow melons up on my deck while the roots are 3 feet below on the ground. So we are both having our melons do a bit of climbing this year. Good luck!


Best of luck, @galinas! Keep us posted.


I’m a watermelon thinner. While I agree that it is unnecessary to do so, I like the results that I get when I do thin. If you only have a few vines it works out nicely. My vines typically get big enough to set fruit then set a bunch that are ready all about the same time. I pick them and then the vines go about settling the next wave of melons. With a short growing season I can count on about 2 waves of fruit per vine. With just a few vines, I prefer to let one melon set every 10 days or so and have them ripening steadily throughout the growing season. Just my preference.


Has anyone tried using a syringe and brix meter to test ripeness without picking?

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By the way, here’s one of my watermelon plants. I’ve got 6:

I’m growing all miniature watermelons this year because they’re my favorite. They ripen faster than anything else available. And they fit in the fridge well.

I ran out of covers and bricks. It’s to stop a wild dog from eating them. I was considering putting cheap 1m fence netting around the perimeter, but not sure of the effectiveness, and its troublesome. I’ve heard people also spray hot pepper on the watermelon, but with our rains I can’t see the use.


You can set up a simple snare and have BQ pork.


Here’s my melon report so far:
This has been my best year for cantaloupes. I’ve harvested 23 melons from 11 plants with another dozen or so still hanging on the vines. spraying spinosad or bt every week or two has been very effective at reducing pickle worm damage -at least compared with previous years. I did not do unsprayed controls. Based on previous years, i would have zero undamaged fruit without spraying. Disease has been minimal - just a little powdery mildew. I did not spray for disease.
savor: very sweet and tasty but about 2/3 of them split as they ripen. fortunately the splits have not been deep so the flesh has been mostly fine.
minnesota midget: low vigor, small leaves, fruit smells amazing but the flavor is not very sweet even after letting them hang until the stem separates completely with no pressure applied. a little larger than savor. texture is too firm for me.
hannah’s choice - very nice flavor plenty sweet. these are at peak flavor and texture if eaten right away after harvesting. they get almost too soft if let to sit on the counter for a day like I do with the other melons. very vigorous. ribbed. very large.
sugar cube: these have been variable but the best ones have been my best melons overall. very sweet. very vigorous plants. smallish unribbed melons close to store bought size

watermelons are just now starting to ripen with big stripe leading off. I’ll pick my first one probably tomorrow. They are doing excellent.


I have not tried that method but it is intriguing. I use the days from fruit set to harvest method. Absolutely fool proof once you establish the number of days your particular variety (and your particular taste preference) requires. I too, focus on the miniature varieties for the same reason you do. 30 to 35 days for most of the small melons works pretty well.
If you try the syringe method, I would be interested in your results.

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What would be a good brix range?

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I’m not really sure. Seems like I see reports of 11 to 14 on watermelons from many people. I am always trying to hit the point of ripenes right before mealiness progresses very much around the seeds.


Well my watermelons and cantaloupe are about played out but had a very productive year. My results for watermelons are that starbrite out produces every other melon I planted 2:1. As far as taste the summer flavor 720 was the best for red meated followed by starbrite, jubilee, and last was jubilee improved. On the yellow the summergold was far superior to the tendersweet orange and the summergold was real productive. I grew some melons around 42 lbs on the starbrite but most where 20 to 30 lbs. the Same for the 720, had a few around 40 lbs. The summergold I had a few around 36lbs but most 15 to 25 lbs. On the cantaloupe the Athena was far superior to the super 45. It out produced it 4:1 and was sweeter and a lot larger, my largest was 8.5 lbs with most in 5 lb range.


@Stephen03, I’m glad to hear your report, and congratulations on a successful season! We forgive you for not showing us pics of the harvested and sliced melons. :grinning:

I’m growing Tendersweet orange right now, and a few are sizing up to get close to 20 lbs. Of course, here in northern Virginia, we don’t get the heat you do. However, I have a Big Stripe that is already bigger than any I’ve grown over the past three years. Around here, the earliest you can get melons to ripen is early August, so we’re still about three weeks away from picking the first one.

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Top pic is summerflavor 720 and the bottom is a couple of summergold cull melons I had that didn’t size up


You must have a farm. How many acres do you have?