…and boy am I happy about it. Little old me, grew something as tropical and worldly as a melon!
Melons were my experiment this year. I try to grow something different every summer, and this year my new greenhouse offered the chance to grow some heat loving plants. I find experiments are an important part of a veg grower’s year. They add variety to the season, and learning to master different fruit and veg is a great way to build confidence.
I normally keep my experiments low key, with a view to growing a bigger crop in the future. This gives me the time to tend to the plants properly, and study their behaviours and requirements.
The tricky thing about melons is germination. They like it hot, as the seed packet points out. I grew Petit Gris de Rennes from Real Seeds, which need minimum temperatures of 27-32C to germinate, and sowed 3 melon seeds into little pots of multi-purpose compost during May.
The greenhouse soon hit some big temperatures and one exciting summer morning I noticed two seedlings poking through the soil. The tricky bit was over.
Planting Out and a Baby Melon
As per the seed pack instructions, I planted the seedlings out once they had developed 4 or 5 leaves. I put them in a recess to keep moisture around the roots, but the problem with my greenhouse was space. I had got rather carried away this summer, with chillis, tomatoes and cucumbers dominating the beds. Recommendations for next year, number one: Plan a designated space for your melon plant!
Melons grow in vines, and I have no idea where one plant took itself off to, but the other one did survive, and lo and behold the middle of August brought a baby melon:
I admit I was surprised by that, given the cramped conditions of the greenhouse. I’d thrown the watering can in the general direction of my melon plant regularly, but I was rather taken aback to find one growing.
Anyhow, once established the growing speed was rapid. The vine sprawled across the greenhouse floor and the fruit itself began to resemble a proper melon. The question remained however: would it taste like a melon…
What Did It Taste Like?
Melons are ripe when they smell, well, very melony. This weekend, the fruit began to do just that, so we harvested my sole summer melon. And wow, it was gorgeous. This will sound stupid, but for me one of the biggest feelings of relief in GYO is when a fruit or veg actually tastes like you expect it to.
I was worried my melon might be dehydrated, or just a bit rubbish. But it wasn’t. The flesh was bright orange and beautifully juicy, and the flavour sweet. Safe to say, I was over the moon.
Will I Grow Them Again?
Next year I’ll definitely grow melons again, but there are a few things I’ll do differently. I’ll pinch out growing tips to encourage sideshoots, which will hopefully provide me with more than one fruit (a typical plant yields between 2 and 4 fruits), and I’ll feed the plant too.
However, this is all next year. I’ll worry about that once I’m done smugly basking in my glory :).