The melon plant, or Cucumis melo, is a creeping herbaceous species with sweet and delicious fruit, which is composed of up to 90% water and very few calories. The fruit is ideal to consume in low-fat diets and to lose weight, thanks to its satiating effect.
The cultivation of the melon plant has its origin in Egypt and today it can be found on almost all continents. In addition, the melon fruit is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and vitamins such as A, C, B6, B12.
Would you like to sow melon plants or seeds in the field of your house or in a pot, but do not know how to do it? Don’t worry, here we show you how to plant and grow melons following different methods and steps. To cultivate!
How to plant melons
Watermelons and melons are fruiting plants that can be planted with the same method. This is because both species are creeping vines belonging to the same Cucurbitaceae family, the same subfamily Cucurbitoideae, and the Benincaseae tribe. In fact, they are only separated by their gender: the melon plant is of the genus Cucumis and the watermelon, of the genus Citrullus.
This explains why both species require the same nutrients, soil, climate, and care to develop. Therefore, below, we give you a step by step on how to plant melons and watermelons:
- Put the melon and watermelon seeds, each species separately, in a container with water. Leave them there for 5 hours to hydrate. Then take them out.
- Cut two trenches in the field where you will plant them, one for melons and one for watermelons. Both should be about 40 cm deep and 30 cm wide because their roots, once developed, will be long.
- Cover the bottom of the trench with a thin layer of about 3 cm of horse or cow manure.
- Fill the trenches up to 90% of their capacity with compost.
- Cover the remaining 10% with the soil that was removed when opening the trench.
- Open holes 1 cm deep in the ground and with a separation of 10 cm between one hole and another. Each hole corresponds to a seed, be it melon or watermelon. Remember that each trench corresponds to a single species, do not join them.
- Put a seed in each hole and cover them with substrate.
- Once you finish planting all the melon and watermelon seeds, do the first watering. This you are going to do with the sole purpose of moistening the substrate. For no reason leave the area flooded.
- Optionally, you can place a tarp or black plastic over the trenches, and cover their edges with dirt to make it firm. This step is optional, but if you apply it, it will help reduce the evaporation of water from the substrate and protect the seeds from insects and other animals like chickens.
- If you apply the previous step, remember to open holes in the plastic or canvas in the parts where the melon and watermelon seeds are sown. This is so that, once they germinate, the seedlings have room to grow.
- It is recommended that you install a drip irrigation system to keep the soil and seeds moist at all times, although you can also water manually. In our article How to make a home irrigation system, you will find everything you need to install your own drip irrigation system.
How to plant melons in pots
There are many benefits of melon, therefore, it is very common for people to want to have their own planting, even if they do not have too much space. To plant melons in pots you have two options: the first is to germinate the seeds and the second is to buy seedlings of about 4 cm, already with their first shoots of true leaves. Either option is valid and requires practically the same steps. Next, we show you how to plant melons in pots in an easy and fast way:
- Take a pot about 12 inches deep and add a thin layer of clay to the bottom.
- Add another layer of about 2 inches of cow manure.
- Finish filling the pot with nutrient-rich substrate or compost.
- Open holes 1 to 1.5 cm deep with a separation of 5 cm from one hole to another.
- Insert the seeds or seedlings into the holes, taking care not to damage the roots of the latter.
- If you are working with seedlings, cover the edges with more substrate. In the case of seeds, cover them completely with the substrate.
- Finally, water once a week in order to moisten the soil, but avoid waterlogging it. It is done!
How to plant rainfed melons
The dry farming for melons is basically preparing the ground in a special way and performing planting melon plant so that do not require any irrigation. In this case, you should use already germinated plants about 30 cm long. Read on and find out how to plant rainfed melons with an effective method:
- Prepare the soil for planting the melon plants. To do this, add compost to the surface and subsoil the soil. To do this, plow or remove the first layer of soil from the ground, in order to aerate it, soften it and fertilize it. The best time to subsoil is in autumn.
- When spring arrives, apply a layer of compost to the ground where you will plant the melons.
- Cut a trench 12 to 14 inches deep in the ground. Prepare the trench bed by applying a thin layer of cow or horse manure and then a 6-inch layer of compost.
- Fill the rest of the trench with the soil that was removed when you opened it.
- Cut several grooves of about 10 cm in the trench. Each hole must be at least 20 cm apart.
- Then, introduce one plant per hole, taking care not to mistreat the roots.
- Fill the edges of the plant with the soil extracted in the subsoiler. Repeat the process for each plant.
- Apply a single abundant watering on the base of each plant. It is done!
The subsoiling method and the nutrients provided by compost, manure and soil will help the melon plant develop and bear fruit without the need for continuous watering. Keep in mind that the ideal temperature for the plant to grow and bloom should be between 21 and 25 ºC.
How to grow melons
The entire process of growing melons, from seed germination to harvesting, is easy to perform, but requires that each step be followed to the letter. Next, we show you what the stages and dates are like so you can learn how to grow melons correctly:
- Germinate melon seeds in mid-April or May. By mid-July, the seeds will have germinated and will be over 1 meter. Then, you will only have to wait another 3 months to enjoy its fruits. Of course, if you plant melon seedlings, you will save yourself a few weeks of growth.
- If you are sowing seeds, put between 5 and 6 per row. If you are going to plant the melon seedlings, make it 1 per hole.
- Keep in mind that, unless you apply the rainfed method, the melon crop will need the soil to be moist. For this, it is recommended that you install a home drip irrigation system.
- As for optimal temperatures, the ideal for the seeds to germinate is to keep them at 25 ºC. Now, if you want the seedlings to develop quickly, the temperature should be between 20 and 25 ºC.
- Once the plant matures, it will begin its flowering process, but it needs at least 21ºC to do so. The optimum temperature for the development of the melon fruit has to be between 25 and 30 ºC. A lower temperature would stunt their growth and a higher one would burn them.
- In hot weather, you can harvest the fruit 90 days afterthe plant has germinated. This will also depend on the change in color in the rind or shell of the melon fruits. When you notice that the fruits begin to look dimmer, it is time to collect. On the other hand, if the base that joins the plant with the fruit begins to crack, you know that you must harvest the harvest. It is done!
Enjoy the fruit of your work preparing one of our melon smoothie recipes, discover it by clicking the link! Nothing will beat the food you eat from your own garden or harvest.