Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Less Squash and More Melons

Last year was the first time growing several varieties winter squash. They have held up very well stored in our basement. We still have a couple delicata, a butternut, and a spaghetti squash left. 



The freezer is also full of pureed pumpkin ready to be turned into pies, breads, or soup. As it turns out, we don't really eat a lot of winter squash. Unless it is in pie form, K doesn't really like winter squash and I can be satisfied with a small serving every now and then. 

After thinking it over, I decided to reduce the amount of winter squash grown in the garden this year. I am keeping delicata because I love it's sweet flavor, small size, and ease of preparation. The other squashes are plentiful at farmers markets if I have an urge for one.

Instead I can utilize the garden space for more melons, which we can all enjoy. Melons are tricky in my garden but can be grown with great success. I have to consider quick maturing varieties, utilize black solar mulch to keep things hot, and start seedlings inside for best results. Then hope Mother Nature provides us with some heat.



I am considering Yellow Petite Watermelon because of its smaller size and quick maturity (65-80 days). I tried this variety last year grown on a trellis, but didn't have much success. I think it will be happier sprawling out over the solar mulch. 

This year will see the return of the Fastbreak muskmelon. We loved Fastbreak because of its fast maturity (65 days), sweet flavor, and the fact that it lets us know when it is ripe by slipping off the vine. It is an F1 hybrid that has proven itself in our garden by producing numerous fruit.

I am really looking forward to growing Banana Melon, a recent Seeds of the Month Club surprise. The unique shape and promise of sweet, salmon flesh have me intrigued. I think I am pushing it though with the 90-day maturity but it will all depend on the weather this summer.

Fastbreak Melon Harvest from 2010

So it's back to the garden plan for a bit of modification. I also need to shuffle some things around to accommodate extra items that I started under the lights this spring.

17 comments:

  1. I've got a whole 4x8' section devoted to melons this year. I so love a good melon. Last year they were really hit or miss so I'm trying a couple new varieties. If they don't work out maybe I'll try your Fastbreak melons.

    BTW how far apart do you plant your muskmelons? I'm still debating with myself. Last year my melons were small. Though that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

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    1. I didn't grow any melons last year and missed them. I plant my melons pretty close to each other. I've grown them in hills that were about a foot across and sowed 3 seeds per hill and I've grown them in rows spaced about one foot apart. As long as each of the plants receives adequate moisture they seem to do fine and sprawl along throughout the bed.

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  2. It's always about trying to balance what to grow with what you can eat. I don't usually grow melons at home because we have a great melon growing area nearby that grow them better than I can, though they're not organic.

    It's good to have a melon that slips off the vine when ripe. It's really a dissappointment to pull one too soon!

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    1. Gardening is always a work in progress. I think I have such a large area, then tend to fill it up quickly with all the things I want to grow. Sometimes priorities need to be set.

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  3. With canning and freezing and just generally getting tired of certain flavors I find myself gardening on an at least two year cycle now.

    It helps that I ignore the more modern recommendation to eat everything I have canned within 12 months or throw it away.

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    1. We just used up the last jar of tomato sauce from 2010. As long as it is sealed, I wouldn't be able to toss a jar of sauce just because it was over 12 months old either.

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  4. The Fastbreak melons were the star of my garden last year....we just love the taste....and they sure are prolific.

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    1. I grew Fastbreak several years in a row and they performed so well that I assumed growing melons was easy. I found out when I tried growing other varieties that some are hit or miss, while Fastbreak continues to be consistent. After this year, I am going to have to find a new seed source though because Pinetree Garden Seeds doesn't seem to cary Fastbreak anymore.

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  5. This is the kind of juggling I really appreciate every year. I love Butternut, but few other kinds. Oh, a chunked-and-roasted Butternut is a thing of beauty. . . but I don't grow anything else anymore, just what I like. And I don't trial new varieties that much, either. Expanding the beloved is the way to go, as far as I can tell. . . enjoy your melons.

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    1. Hopefully, Delicata will be enough to satisfy my desire for roasted squash. If not, others can be found at farm stands. Each year I expand the garden a little, but still struggle to find room for everything I want to grow.

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  6. Melons are really difficult to grow in my area. We love them, but realistically they are not in the cards for my garden without super monumental TLC and all the luck in the world going just in my direction with warmer than normal weather for our area. I adjust crops all the time though for things we seem to be enjoying less than we used to. I decided to skip a year on parsnips this year because it really seemed like we did not enjoy them nearly as much as normal this past year. Hopefully absence will make our hearts grow fonder again.

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    1. I have a feeling that this summer is going to be a hot one for us. Adding melons seemed like a smart choice since they love the heat. I am also going to try planting a few sweet potato slips and see what happens. The garden seems to be in constant evolution as far as what is grown.

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  7. Trying to grow melons again...hard to grow here with our weather...we shall see

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    1. Growing melons in Maine (zone 5) is a challenge but can be accomplished. It's fun to try to push the boundaries a little and the reward can be great.

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  8. Hey, we got the same banana melon seed pack from MKG this year. We're going to try it out here too. Can't have enough melons! That's what we say too.

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    1. Same here. banana like looking melons is looking good. It is such a full of effort to grow it.

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  9. Good for you for going for more melons, I gave up on them years ago. There never seems to be enough room, does there?

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