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How to grow melons from seed

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
At its best
At its best

Plant is not at its best in January

Plant is not at its best in February

Plant is not at its best in March

Plant is not at its best in April

Plant is not at its best in May

Plant is not at its best in June

Plant is not at its best in July

Plant is at its best in August

Plant is at its best in September

Plant is not at its best in October

Plant is not at its best in November

Plant is not at its best in December

To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do not To do in March

Do To do in April

Do To do in May

Do To do in June

Do To do in July

Do To do in August

Do To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

Although the melons we buy from supermarkets are grown in warmer climes, it is possible to grow your own in a greenhouse. Melons are closely related to cucumbers and require similar growing conditions to thrive. To grow them successfully you need to provide them with warmth, water and food. They can be quite vigorous, so regular pruning is needed to keep them under control. Each plant should produce two to four melons.

You will need

Melon seeds

9cm pots

Seed compost

A heated propagator

30cm pots

Potting compost

Plant supports

Plant ties

Liquid feed

A pair of tights or netting

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Total time:

Step 1

Sow two seeds per pot of seed compost in a 9cm pot. Water well, and then place the pots in a propagator at a temperature of at least 18°C (65°F). Keep the propagator in a well-lit position.

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Step 2

After germination, remove the weaker of the two seedlings and keep the compost moist but not too wet. After the first true leaves have emerged, reduce the temperature in the propagator to a minimum temperature of 15°C (59°F).

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Step 3

Plant out in late spring to early summer. Pinch out the main growing point to two or three buds, to encourage sideshoots to develop. Add a plant support, such as a bamboo cane, and water well.

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Step 4

As the plants establish, keep tying the long main stem to a plant support. Make sure the compost is kept moist at all times, which will mean checking the plants every day. Start to add a liquid feed once a week to encourage strong growth. To prevent the plant from becoming too crowded, pinch out sideshoots after three or four leaves, on a weekly basis.

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Step 5

Melons produce both male and female flowers. The female flower has a fruit developing behind the bloom whereas the male flower has a thin stalk. Insects normally pollinate the flowers, but in a greenhouse, you may need to hand-pollinate them. First identify the female and male flowers, looking for the fruit behind the female and the thin stalk behind the male.

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Step 6

Choose a warm, sunny day when the flowers are fully open. Pick a healthy male flower and remove its petals to expose the inside of the bloom where the pollen is produced. Gently move the male flower into the fully open female bloom, which allows the pollen from the male anthers to transfer on to the female stigma.

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Step 7

Thin out devloping fuits, allowing just four melons to grow per pot-grown plant. As the fruits develop, water well and feed with a high potash liquid feed, such as comfrey solution. Support heavy fruits with a pair of tights, or netting such as the net bags you buy oranges in. As the fruits ripen they will give off a sweet aroma and will soften at the end opposite the stalk. The skin may also change colour. Finally, small cracks will develop on the fruit around the stalk, which means it’s time to pick.

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