Melons by the Moon

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Melon varieties

Seven Select Melons

The Old Farmer’s Almanac includes this weekend on the list of “Moon-favorable” dates to plant melons, which is a good enough excuse for me. Though I did check the soil temperature in the beds slated for the melons. Several hours after the sun was off the beds the temperature still held at over 65 degrees. Frank Tozer, in the Vegetable Growers Handbook, says we can expect germination in about 8 days at that temperature, though 70-90 degrees would be optimal. I’m soaking the seeds overnight to help improve germination. I figure with that, some good compost and all the moon power, we ought to be set.

This year’s melon trials will include ‘Will’s Sugar‘ and ‘Yellow Desert King‘, both donated by the Victory Seed Company, ‘Cris Cross‘ from Seed Savers, ‘Mickylee‘, an ice box watermelon sent to us by Botanical Interests which sounded perfect for our trellising, a ‘Blenheim Orange‘ heirloom muskmelon Seeds of Change sent us last year, ‘Iroquois‘ and Thai Melon ‘Golden Round‘ both donated by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Trellised Watermelon

2009 'Rainbow Sherbet' Icebox Watermelon

Melons need hot weather to be sweet and delicious, hotter than what we usually have in Northern California. Our average high temperature here even in July and August is only 84 degrees. But we were able to produce a dozen or more ice box style watermelons last year with excellent flavor which the kids really enjoyed. My sister is trying half of these same varieties in her garden in Union, Kentucky. Her latitude is pretty much the same as ours and her July average temperature is only two degrees hotter than ours, but the humidity there may affect the melon production. Or is it only humans who feel like it’s hotter when it’s humid out?

I don’t know how much the phase of the moon matters to the melon seeds–there seems to be some actual science on it, but not much in the way of conclusions. But I do know that melons like compost, so we’ll be digging in a 2″-3″ layer of compost mixed with our own earthworm castings where the melons will be growing. And, just in case it really is too early to be planting melon seeds outside, I think I will start half the seeds from each variety indoors, just in case. We also plan to start another group of these same seeds at the end of April so that we can compare the plantings.

3/26/2010 Update

‘Iroquois’  melons planted indoors, in the comfort and splendor of a heating mat and overhead lighting, started sprouting yesterday. Looks like we will have a few more of the indoor varieties up tomorrow. No sign of any of the outdoor seeds yet.

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