Gardening

How to plant melon

The melon or melon is a plant that has a large number of cultivated varieties, with fruits that vary greatly in size, shape, external texture, external and internal color, flavor and use. Although the classification is still confusing and subject to studies, this species is usually divided into subspecies or botanical varieties, with sweet or dessert melons being:

Cucumis melo cantaloupensis – cantaloupes or cantaloupes melons are healthy, with sweet and aromatic round fruits with orange pulp and rough skin, with or without streaks, and variable external color. Includes melons with a reticulated skin that were previously known as the reticulatus variety .

Cucumis melo inodorus – melons with rounded or ovoid fruits, sweet and non-aromatic, with smooth or rough thick skin, with a highly variable external and internal color. It includes frog-skin melons, Valencian melons and honeydew melons, among others.

In addition to these sweet melons, there are several other botanical varieties of melon, such as the so-called Armenian cucumber ( Cucumis melo flexuosus ), which despite the name is really of the melon species, but whose fruit is not sweet and is consumed when it is still immature. way that the cucumber. Fruits of other botanical varieties such as chito and dudaim are used for preserving. The agrestis variety is grown in some regions of Africa for its seeds, which are consumed or used for the extraction of vegetable oil.

Climate

The ideal temperature for melon cultivation is between 25 ° C and 32 ° C, although it can grow at temperatures between 18 ° C and 35 ° C. During the ripening of the fruits, the ideal is a hot and dry climate. In conditions of high soil and air humidity, melons are less sugar-rich and watery, losing flavor compared to those grown under ideal conditions of temperature and humidity. Thus, the best conditions for the cultivation of melon are found in regions with a semi-arid climate, although this does not mean that it cannot be cultivated in other regions. In tropical regions it is best if grown in order to prevent fruiting from occurring in the rainiest seasons of the year. In colder regions it can be grown during the hottest months of the year. In any case,

Brightness

The melon needs high luminosity, with direct sunlight.

Ground

The soil must be well drained, light, fertile and rich in organic matter. The ideal soil pH is between 6.4 and 7.2.

Irrigation

They must be irrigated in order to keep the soil moist from sowing to the beginning of fruiting, becoming sparse when the fruits start to ripen.

Planting

To facilitate germination, melon seeds can be immersed in water for a day. The seeds can be sown in the final place, opening holes of 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm, fertilizing the soil removed as necessary and closing again. Several seeds can be sown at the site of each hole, leaving only 1 to 3 plants per hole afterwards. Sow at up to 5 cm deep, depending on the type of soil (on heavier soils, sow at a lower depth). Another possibility is to sow the seeds in small pots or other containers, 1 cm deep, and transplant the melon seedlings to the final location after 20 to 45 days of germination. Germination usually occurs in 3 to 10 days.

The recommended spacing varies with the cultivar and cultivation conditions. For low growing, the spacing can vary from 1.2 mx 1.2 m to 1.5 mx 2 m, depending on the average size of the cultivar. For tutored cultivation, the spacing may be smaller.

Cultivation

The melon can grow tutored in fences and pergolas, but in this case the fruits must be supported in some way (for example, with a net), as the stems generally do not support the weight of the melon.

Some people do not perform any type of pruning on the melon tree, while others recommend cutting the tip of the main stem when it has 5 or 6 leaves, to induce the lateral branching of the plant. When these branches are well developed, they are reduced to three or four. Each of these three or four branches will give rise to more branches.

Some people eliminate only defective fruits, while others leave only one fruit per branch, with 3 or 4 fruits per plant.

The presence of pollinating insects, mainly bees, is necessary for the pollination of flowers and the formation of fruits. If there are no bees and there is no fruit formation, pollinate the flowers manually with the help of a small brush with soft bristles. The melon tree is an andromonoic plant (they have male flowers and hermaphrodite flowers on the same plant) or monoica (they have male flowers and female flowers on the same plant), always with the male flowers appearing first.

Other precautions that can be taken: placing a bed of straw, wood or other material under each fruit in development, so that they are not in direct contact with the soil, reducing the attack of pests and diseases. Carefully turn the fruit of plants growing flat on an interval of a few days to leave the melon with a uniform external appearance, without a whitish part. Cover the melons with newsprint or straw when they reach a diameter of approximately 10 cm so that they are not sunburned if the leaves of the plant do not shade the fruit.

Harvest

The harvest of the melons starts 80 to 140 days after sowing, depending on the cultivar planted. If the melon is not harvested for consumption in a day or two, harvest it leaving approximately 2 cm of the stem with the fruit so that it can be kept for longer. When ripe, cantaloupe melons have a sweet smell and an intense color. In other melons, it can be more difficult to determine when they are fully ripe, but they usually also have a more intense external color.

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