Growing melons in the open field near St. Petersburg
Melons ripened on the northern melons ...
Today, all our beds are covered with snow, and it already seems like a fairy tale that two months ago we collected watermelons and melons in our garden, enjoying the aroma and extraordinary taste of these exotic fruits.
It seems that the melon can be grown only in the distant southern regions, but for the second year now, our family has been receiving a good harvest of these fruits on their plot.
Two years of experience in growing melons near St. Petersburg convinced me that these fruits can be obtained here and on an industrial scale, like cucumbers. A plant such as a melon is very decorative, it can be used in this direction as well.
Those gardeners who have long-term skills on the cultivation of cucumbers in the beds, will be able, given our experience melon cultivation in the open ground, and to master their agricultural techniques on their site.
Growing melons outdoors
We have selected two varieties of melons for outdoor use this year. The first is a very popular mid-season variety. Collective farmer with a period from germination to the first harvest of 75-95 days. The plant is medium-growing. Fruit weight up to 0.7 - 1.3 kg. Second grade Lada, as indicated in the information about it, medium early, ripens in 70-75 days.
The plant is also medium-growing. Fruit weight 2.5-3 kg, with a great sweet taste. Looking ahead, I will say that the choice turned out to be the right one, both varieties performed well in open field conditions, and we reaped an excellent harvest.
In a well-lit place in the garden, a bed for growing melons was prepared in the fall. It is located from east to west, size 1.5x3 m. We made a box 60 cm high, chose all the earth in it up to clay. They began to lay in a box on the clay a layer of chips of about 25-30 cm (you can lay sawdust, chopped branches instead of chips). This layer of earth serves as insulation from the penetration of cold, which has accumulated in the clay during the winter.
The next layer 5-10 cm thick is plant waste. We laid foliage in the garden with strawberry beds, fortunately, our strawberries are healthy, and there are a lot of them. Then the third layer is sawdust, we trample them down to 5 cm. In this form, the ridge was left until spring.
During the winter, the soil settled, and the box was about 30 cm full. In the spring, at the beginning of April, the filling of the ridge was continued. Longitudinally dividing it into two equal parts, a layer of fresh manure 10-15 cm thick, the second half of the ridge to this thickness was filled with earth taken after growing tomatoes.
The purpose of the fresh manure layer is to provide warmth in the first half of summer, which contributes to the rapid survival of seedlings, and in the second half of summer, when the manure burns out, it will serve as food for the roots (if someone does not have manure, then it can be replaced with a thick layer of hay). Next, we put hay on this layer. For hay - the last layer - fertile soil. For this layer, you cannot take it from under the melons, zucchini, pumpkin and cucumbers. The layer of earth should be loose, if it is heavy in composition, then you can add sawdust, mix them with the earth, and thus provide a better structure for this top layer.
By the way, in the last issue of the magazine on page 16, where it was said about preparing the beds for planting watermelons, for technical reasons, the mention of sawdust was omitted, which were also introduced into the soil and mixed with it to a depth of 10 cm. And this is important, because the structure of the soil improves markedly.
So, the ridge is ready, spilled it with hot water with potassium permanganate and covered with a film for warming up. In mid-May, a film frame was made over the ridge with a "house" 1 m high in the center. The film was removed from the ground, the ground was freed from weeds, and it was loosened.
Growing melon seedlings
Melon seeds were planted on seedlings on April 5, taking into account the lunar calendar. The soil was prepared carefully by mixing the flower with the coconut substrate. The main thing is that it is nutritious and loose. Pre-prepared cups for seedlings with a volume of 0.5 liters. In each of them, 2 seeds were planted to a depth of 3 cm.
You can not fill the glass completely, and then, as the plant grows, add earth to it until it is full. Already on April 9, shoots appeared in all the cups. We kept them by the battery until the shoots appeared. When the seeds rose, we transferred all the cups to the windowsill. The temperature was lowered to 18 ° C at the expense of the window. We watered the seedlings carefully. Supplemented with a fluorescent lamp. We were fed twice with Kemira-Lux fertilizer.
The seedlings developed normally and did not cause much trouble. On the evening of May 17, we dropped her off in the garden. Six holes were made in the center of the ridge, spilled them with water, sprinkled in the holes ash... We made a chatterbox: a little fermented manure and a little "Ideal" were added to the warm water. Taking out the seedlings from the cups, they moistened their roots in a warm chatterbox. Seedlings were not watered before planting.
Plants were planted in prepared wells. After planting the plants, the remnants of the chatterbox were poured under the root, mutilated each plant with dry soil. They pulled a film shelter onto the frame located above the garden bed. The film was stretched so that at the ends of the beds (from the east and west) it could be opened to ventilate the greenhouse during the day (small windows 30x30 cm were made).
And then came the most crucial moment in melon cultivation. In order not to ruin the planted plants, you need to monitor their condition. In clear weather, ventilate the greenhouse by opening the vents in the morning and closing them at night. If, after planting the seedlings, there are recurrent frosts, then another additional layer of film must be put on top of it. Plants must not be steamed or chilled.
After planting the seedlings of melons in the ground, we did not water it for 10-14 days, but it never bogged down with us during this period and took root well in new conditions for it. Watering began only in early June, taking into account the weather and the beginning of the growth of tops. After the end of frosts, at the beginning of the second decade of June, the southern side of the ridge must be rolled up or opened for a day. And when the tops begin to intensively fill the ridge, it is necessary to increase the number of irrigations.
How to water a melon
The first time they poured a light solution of azofoski (Kemira can be used) for the first push. Melons have a strong root system located in the upper soil layer. The roots intertwine to form a net that covers a large volume of soil. And this net of roots must be watered and fed in order to grow good tops, and then the fruits.
During the rest of the irrigations, a light ash solution was added to the water (the preparation of the ash solution, as well as the irrigation with superphosphate, are described in detail in the previous journal No. 11 for 2006). For the whole season, we water it three times with superphosphate. 1st watering - the beginning of flowering; 2nd watering - when there is an intense ovary; 3rd watering - before fruit ripening.
In the last days of June, the film was completely removed from the ridge. Melon tops by this time already fills the entire surface of the ridge and rests against the film coating. We remove the wooden frame for fastening the film and along the contour of the ridge from a bar or slats we make a crossbar at a height of 40 cm.
And as the melon lashes grow, we lift them and throw them over the crossbar, tying the whips in the upper part to the crossbar with a rope so that they are evenly spaced along the perimeter of the ridge and do not move into a heap by the wind. As the melons grow, we get a beautiful blooming rectangular bowl of tops. The purpose of this crossbar is to provide maximum illumination and minimal leaf spread over the area.
We have used this method many times when growing cucumbers in the open field. It turns out a very compact arrangement of melons. This method has helped us a lot now. The entire main ovary of melons was located in the area of these crossbeams along the entire perimeter. The ridge turned out to be very compact, accessible for care and watering from all sides.
Melons bloomed at the end of June. Ovaries appeared in early July. The beginning of the ovary is a signal for abundant watering of melons. Nitrogen fertilizing was not used; basically, it was watered only with a weak ash solution. They did it in the morning until 11 o'clock in the morning; on especially hot days, melon was watered twice a day. The second watering was until 5 pm, so that the tops and soil dried out overnight.
Such watering and care makes the melons grow and tie literally before our eyes. At the end of July, we counted 70 fruits on the melon. Only 10 of them were inside the bed, we put wooden lining under them, the rest were located along the contour of the ridge. In order for the lashes to withstand the weight of the fruits that were tied, wide boards were laid in advance along the contour from the long sides along the ridge, and the bulk of the fruits lay on these boards.
The same fruits that were hanging and could not sit on the boards, we hung them in nets to the crossbar or substituted stumps on the boards. So all the melons were supervised, each had its own support, depending on the place where it started. The final picture before ripening is as follows: tops occupied the entire area of the ridge, climbed the crossbar, jumped it and went down around the ridge to the ground and stopped growing. All melon work focused on ensuring weight gain and fruit ripening. From the side, the view of the ridge was compact, picturesque, the fruits were hidden under the leaves. The melon looked very decorative.
In the second half of last summer, there was an unusual heat for our North-West, and therefore abundant watering continued until August 10. The first six melons of the Kolkhoznitsa variety were removed from August 10 to 12, their weight was from 1 to 1.5 kg.
Read the next part. Growing melons in a greenhouse near St. Petersburg →
B. Romanov, melon grower
Photo by N. Egorova
Description of the plant
Common melon is an annual herb. A rounded-faceted and slightly pubescent creeping stem, equipped with antennae, grows from 1.5 to 2 m, and sometimes even more. The leaves are very large, alternate, rounded-ovate or palmate-lobed. Attached to the stem with long petioles. The leaf blade also has pubescence, so it seems a little rough to the touch. Flowers and tendrils are located in the axils of the leaves.
Melon is a climbing plant, reaching a length of 2 m
The root system is powerful, because the plant comes from arid places where water is in great shortage. The branching of the root system can cover a diameter of 1 to 2 m, and the taproot penetrates to a depth of 1.5 m.
The melon fruit is called pumpkin and has a spherical or cylindrical shape. The outer fruit shell (exocarp) is leathery and elastic. Its color can be different - white, yellow, green or brownish, with or without stripes. The surface is also different - from absolutely smooth to rough. One plant can form from 2 to 8 fruits, the weight of which ranges from 1.5 to 10 kg.
The pulp is very juicy, aromatic, sweet. In some varieties, the sugar content reaches 20%. Medium consistency. The color can have a variety of shades from white to greenish (depending on the variety).
Melon flesh color depends on the variety
A cavity filled with seeds is hidden inside the fruit. There are quite a few of them. Seeds that are flat, narrow or broadly oval are white or yellowish in color. The surface of the outer cover is glossy or matte.
Numerous seeds are hidden inside the melon.
How to distinguish male from female flowers
Melon is a monoecious plant. Male and female flowers can develop on it at the same time. Melon pollen is heavy and sticky, so helpers - bees or ants - are needed for pollination. But sometimes the dexterity of the hands is also useful - in greenhouses or in bad weather, insects will not be able to help.
The first flowers to appear on a melon are male. Their number depends on the ripening period of the variety. In early melons, flowers are laid in the axils of the 2nd or 3rd leaf, in later varieties - the 4th or 5th. Before the first female flower appears, the melon manages to lay from 6 to 30 male flowers.
Melon flowers are divided into male and female.
The difference between male and female flowers is in their structure. The male has 5 stamens, on which pollen is formed. The female flower has a well-developed pistil, which forms an ovary after pollination.
Video: manual pollination of melons
Melon is often used as a dessert. But the juicy pulp is good not only raw, it is an excellent product for making jam, preserves, melon honey, candied amber fruits. Melon is also dried and canned.
In the Middle Ages, melon was the most popular food in Asia, especially during the long fast before Ramadan.
Melon is a wonderful and healthy dessert
The healing properties of melon have been well known and have been widely used in medicine since the time of Avicenna.
Table: content of proteins, water, carbohydrates, fats
|Nutrient composition |
|How much is contained |
in 100 g
Melon is a low-calorie product. 100 g of pulp contains an average of 35 kcal, so the fruit is not contraindicated even for those suffering from obesity.
Melon can be called a real "first aid kit" due to the high content of various nutrients in the pulp. The peel and seeds are also actively used for the preparation of medicinal drinks and decoctions.
Melon can be safely called a real pantry of nutrients.
For a long time, melon has been used as a remedy to help recover from a serious illness. The pulp stimulates the intestines and improves its microflora. Melon is useful for:
- cardiovascular diseases
- diseases of the kidneys and bladder.
Cosmetologists actively use the properties of melon to prepare toning and nourishing masks. The pulp of the fruit, ground into a gruel and applied to the face, will make the skin elastic, relieve it of oily sheen and give a delicate color. You need to apply such a mask regularly for a month.
But melon also has contraindications:
- can not be used by nursing mothers. In a baby, this can cause abnormalities in the stomach and painful digestion.
- it is not recommended to eat melon on an empty stomach
- after taking melon pulp, do not eat fermented milk products and drink cold water. It leads to an upset stomach
- cannot be combined with alcohol
- with caution, you need to use melon for people who suffer from ulcers, diabetes mellitus or liver disease.
It is customary to plant the melon in the place where it used to grow: onions, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, legumes, cabbage and eggplants. You can not grow melon for several years in one place, as well as after any pumpkin and carrots.
Only well-lit and wind-protected areas with light, fertilized soil with neutral acidity are suitable for melon beds.
Fertilize the soil with potassium sulfate, superphosphate, sifted wood ash, apply organic fertilizers - compost and rotted manure.
Advice. Planting melons under a mulching film makes it easier to care for them and retains the heat needed for growth.
Features of planting watermelons in the open field
Before planting watermelons in the garden, you need to prepare the land, seeds and familiarize yourself with the rules of growing.
The soil for watermelons should be light and fertile; virgin sandy loam chernozem is preferable. They grow worse on clay soils.
It is undesirable to plant watermelons after legumes, cabbage. It is good if earlier there were tomatoes, onions, rye or winter wheat on the site.
It is also necessary to apply mineral fertilizers per 1 sq. m:
- 30 g of urea or ammonium nitrate
- 30 g superphosphate
- 20 g of potash fertilizers.
Excess fertilizing is harmful: greens grow better than fruits, and nitrates accumulate in watermelons.
First, you need to choose a variety that matches the climate of the region. In the middle lane, it can be Ogonyok, Sugar baby, Crimson Sweet.
Watermelon seeds come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.
Before boarding, it is recommended:
- Warm up the seeds in the sun for a week or dip them in a gauze bag in hot (50-60 ° C) water for 5-10 minutes.
- For disinfection, hold them in a pink solution of potassium permanganate (with a concentration of 0.5-1%) for about 20 minutes, rinse and dry naturally. To obtain a good harvest, it can be soaked in a solution of trace elements - manganese, boron, molybdenum - with a concentration of 0.05% for 16 hours.
- With the seedless method of sowing, after warming up in hot water, the seeds are dipped into a solution of Zircon or Cytovit (1 ampoule per 2 liters of water). When they swell, you can sow.
- To accelerate germination, seeds are germinated. To do this, they need to be wrapped in a wet cloth, put in a warm place with a temperature of + 20–25 ° С and constantly moistened without drying out. Remove the top layer for ventilation several times a day. When sprouts appear, the seeds can be sown directly into the ground or for seedlings.
Sowing seeds in open ground
Sowing watermelons should be in the ground, warmed up to + 12-14ºC, 10 cm deep. In cold soil, they may not sprout or be affected by pests. Usually sowing is done in late April-early May, but in each region you need to focus on climatic conditions.
Watermelon seeds germinate in open ground within 5-7 days with good quality and warm soil. If the ground is not warmed up enough, the seedlings may be delayed by 2 weeks.
The main thing is that as the planting grows, it does not turn out to be excessively thickened and that all the berries that have set up have enough light, moisture and nutrition
The distance between the rows is made at least 1 m, since the plants have long lashes and they can stretch up to 1.5-2 meters. The depth of the hole is 5–8 centimeters.
5-6 seeds are placed in one hole to ensure germination. If everyone makes their way, they choose one, the strongest plant.
Planting watermelon seedlings
In regions with short summers, watermelon seedlings are grown. Seeds are sown a month before planting, that is, if the heat in the region is established at the end of May, then the seedlings are planted at the end of April.
Sprouted seeds are placed in cups with soil, watered with warm water and covered with glass or polyethylene to create greenhouse conditions. Seedlings appear in 3-5 days.
Seedlings need to provide a favorable regime: temperature + 20-25ºC and lighting, natural or artificial, for 10 hours a day, no less.
After two weeks, the plants are fed with a water-soluble complex fertilizer, no organic matter is needed. Watering should be plentiful, but not frequent, twice a week is enough. Loosening of the soil is obligatory.
Soil for watermelon seedlings - a mixture consisting of humus, turf soil and river sand
Within 7 days before planting, it is necessary to temper the plants: take them out into the fresh air for 2-3 hours, then gradually increase the time. The day before, you need to water the seedlings well and spray with a 1% solution of Bordeaux liquid. The seedling must have at least 4 leaves. Plants are transplanted onto the garden bed very carefully, along with an earthen lump.
Growing melons in the open field near St. Petersburg - garden and vegetable garden
To get a high-quality harvest of melons, you need to take into account the influence of previous crops. This plant is best planted after perennial grasses or silage corn, as well as onions, cabbage, cucumber. Experienced melon growers recommend growing melon in open ground within one plot for no more than two seasons in a row, because longer stays of a crop in one plot affects yield, plants begin to hurt, and the quality of fruits decreases.
The culture in question develops well on light soils (sandy loam or loam), which are enriched in organic matter. Good yields can also be obtained on heavy clay soils, but the quality of the crop can be affected. Melon does not develop well on saline soils.
A sowing site for growing melons in the open field needs to be dug up in the fall. Humus is used as fertilizer, 4-5 kilograms per m2. Also, a bucket of sand is added to this unit of area in the presence of loamy soil. In the spring, before planting seeds or seedlings, mineral fertilizers (potassium salt, superphosphate, etc.) are applied to the soil.
Sowing melon seeds is carried out after the threat of night frosts has passed, but not later than the beginning of June. The seeds are laid in the soil to a depth of 3 centimeters, but to obtain an earlier harvest, pre-grown seedlings are used - planting in the ground is carried out in the phase of 5 leaves. When planting seedlings, add a tablespoon of wood ash to each hole.
During intensive melon growth, crops are systematically loosened, watered and fertilized. Plants respond well to fertilization, especially those with a high nitrogen and phosphorus content. For top dressing, special complex fertilizers are often used, designed specifically for melons.
When growing melons in the open field, in addition to fertilizing, watering is also important. Correct watering of the melon allows you to get a significant increase in the yield. So the first watering of the culture is carried out in the phase of the first true leaf, then the plants are not watered for 40 days. Next, you need to make 1-2 watering during the period of fruit formation. The normal soil moisture for melons is considered to be 65-70% HB.
Ripe melon emits a pleasant aroma, its stalk is easily separated from the fruit, and a mesh appears on the surface of the fruit, in many varieties - these signs of maturity should be taken into account when harvesting.
Is it realistic to grow a melon in Siberia: the experience of gardeners
A hundred years ago, it was difficult to imagine that heat-loving melons could grow in harsh Siberia. But progress does not stand still. Thanks to modern materials and technologies, new adapted varieties and, of course, the inexhaustible enthusiasm of Siberians, the fairy tale becomes a reality.
Choosing and preparing a site
For a southern culture that loves warmth and sunlight in the open field, the most illuminated areas, but closed from drafts and cold winds, are chosen.
It is important that moisture does not stagnate in the area for melons, otherwise rot and fungal diseases of plants cannot be avoided.
At the same time, for growing melons in the open field, the soil is prepared in advance. In the fall, the future melon:
- dug over at least a shovel bayonet
- fertilized with organic matter, introducing 4–6 kg of humus or rotted manure per square meter.
Melon loves loose soils, therefore, on loamy soils, it is recommended to add river sand to the beds. In the spring, potash and phosphate fertilizers are introduced into the melon for digging.