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Growing Melons In A Greenhouse: Sowing, Shaping, Watering And Feeding
Growing Melons In A Greenhouse: Sowing, Shaping, Watering And Feeding

Video: Growing Melons In A Greenhouse: Sowing, Shaping, Watering And Feeding

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Pumpkin family

melon cultivation
melon cultivation

The Pumpkin family (Cucurbitaceae) has 130 genera and about 900 species. The modern classification of the pumpkin family belongs to the English botanist C. Jeffrey (1980). According to this classification, the family is divided into two subfamilies and 8 tribes. One subfamily of pumpkin (Gucurbitoideae) contains 7 tribes, including 110 genera.

In short, our gardeners have a large selection in this family. True, the Cucumber tree (Dendrosicyos socotranus), or Dendrosicyos Socotranus, the only woody plant of the pumpkin family, will not grow in our zone; it grows only on the island of Socotra, which lies northeast of the African continent.

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The most popular in this family are: sowing cucumber (Cucumis sativus), pumpkin and squash (Cucurbita rero), which have a large number of varieties, edible watermelon (Citrullus lanatus), melon (Melo melo). I already wrote an article in the magazine about sowing cucumbers, but about the melon, which sometimes botanists refer to the genus Cucumber, about pumpkin, zucchini, watermelons, you can talk a little more in detail.

Now many people have begun to get involved in the cultivation of such traditionally southern crops as melon and watermelon, in our northern conditions, usually indoors.

Cultivated melon

melon cultivation
melon cultivation

The cultivated melon (Cucumis melo L.) belongs to the genus Cucumis L., the pumpkin family (Cucurbitaceae Juss). The bulk of its roots are located in the 0-30 cm layer. Melon is a monoecious plant. Her flowering begins 30-50 days after germination. Melon fruits of various sizes and colors, ripen 60-120 days after germination, depending on the variety and growing conditions.

It is very demanding on light conditions; at low light intensity, the interval between the beginning of flowering of male flowers and the beginning of flowering of pistillate flowers reaches 32 days, while under normal light conditions it is 3-5 days. In our climatic zone, you should not rush to plant melon seeds on seedlings. Insufficient lighting in the initial period leads to stretching of the first-order lashes, and they practically do not form female flowers.

Before mid-April in our zone, it should not be planted on seedlings. You can provide the seedlings with good lighting, add fluorescent lamps, which should work 16 hours a day for 20-25 days. This is especially pronounced in early varieties. Melon is a thermophilic culture. The optimum temperature for seed germination is considered to be 25 … 30 ° C, while the seeds germinate within 48 hours.

At an air temperature of less than 15 ° C, the melon almost does not develop, at 10 ° C, growth stops. The optimum temperature for photosynthesis of melon is considered to be 30 … 40 ° С. The lowered daytime air temperature (10 … 12 ° С) weakens growth. At this temperature, flowers fall off. Air temperature 10 … 15 ° С is the biological minimum for most varieties. The air temperature during melon cultivation in a greenhouse in our light conditions is better to maintain 26 … 28 ° С during the day, and at night - not lower than 18 ° С.

The optimum temperature is lower in low light than in high light. After planting the seedlings, Dutch experts recommend lowering the air temperature by two days to 20 ° C day / night for better survival of the seedlings, and then maintaining it at 18 ° C at night and 21 … 22 ° C during the day. The optimum soil temperature for quick and friendly shoots is 22 … 25 ° С. After fruit setting, temperatures of 19 … 20 ° C during the day and 15 … 16 ° C at night are often recommended. During the period of growth and ripening of fruits, temperatures above 35 … 40 ° C lead to a decrease in the sugar content in fruits.

So, the optimum soil temperature is 18 … 22 ° С, air is 19 … 30 ° С. Anthers open at a temperature not lower than 20 ° C, fruit setting occurs in the temperature range from 20 ° C to 32 … 35 ° C with an optimal relative humidity of 60-70%. Melon depends on pollinating insects (bees, bumblebees), which is important to consider, especially when grown in greenhouse conditions. Optimum temperatures for fruit formation and ripening range from 18 … 20 ° С at night, up to 25 … 33 ° С during the day.

The most favorable conditions for the development of melon are a large amount of soil moisture and dry air, so this crop responds well to the use of drip irrigation. Melon requires fertile, not too oily, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.7-7.0. The requirements of the melon to the structure and fertility of the soil are high. The best for her are well-warmed, permeable, light loamy soils with a high content of nutrients.

Melon was grown in our climatic zone already in the 16th century, in the Moscow region. In the descriptions of the foreign ambassador Alam Olearius, there is information that when he left Moscow in 1643, he was presented with a pood melon. "Moscow melons," he wrote, "are very large, tasty and sweet, so you can eat them without sugar." Melon contains a significant amount of inositol, which lowers blood cholesterol, helps to normalize the function of the nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, the fruits are useful for patients with atherosclerosis, hypertension, ischemic heart disease.

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From the practice of our farm for growing melons

melon cultivation
melon cultivation

Sowing. We sow melon seeds in the second half of April in pots with a diameter of 8 cm to a depth of 1.5-2 cm, the soil in the pots should be nutritious and loose, but not greasy. We grow seedlings in a heated greenhouse at a minimum temperature of 18 … 21 ° C or on a sunny windowsill in a warm room. Cover the pots with transparent plastic. After the sprout appears, we remove the plastic, keep the pot at a temperature not lower than 13 … 16 ° C.

We gradually harden the sprouts, reducing the temperature to 13 ° C, in order to plant them at the end of May or at the beginning of June. If the roots fill the pot earlier than this, we transplant the sprout into a pot with a diameter of 15 cm. During the growth period, we feed the seedlings and water them as the substrate dries. Pour with warm water, in moderation and not often. If the weather is cloudy, supplementary lighting with a fluorescent lamp helps well. Together with irrigation water, we feed melon seedlings 1-2 times a week: 10-15 g NPK per 10 liters of water.

We feed once with ammonium nitrate at the rate of 10 g / 10 l of water, if the growth is slow. After irrigation with a solution of fertilizers, irrigate with clean water. 5-7 days before planting it in open ground, we reduce watering, and strengthen ventilation. You can buy a substrate for growing seedlings that is intended for cucumbers. Only the purchased mixture must be preheated in the oven at 60 ° C for two hours and add 1 part of river washed sand. To protect the root collar from the black leg, it is useful to sprinkle the soil in pots with sand with a layer of 1-2 cm.

If we plant not in a greenhouse, but in tunnels made of film, then the agricultural technology is as follows:

melon cultivation
melon cultivation

Landing. Two weeks before planting, at the end of May or at the beginning of June, we prepare pits deep on the bayonet of a shovel and with a diameter of 30 cm. We bring in a shovel of rotted manure for digging at each place designated for planting and make a bed. First, we tear out a groove 40 cm deep in the center of the bed and fill it with dry leaves harvested from autumn, which we mix with the ground. It is very good to add sawdust to the substrate for looseness.

If the soil is dry, pour abundantly with water heated in the sun and cover it with transparent polyethylene a week before planting so that the soil warms up well. Usually we install a plank box on the garden bed, and in the fall, if the clay is close by, then you need to select it by 30 cm and lay loosening materials. The clay cools the melon roots. A good effect is obtained by using a black film as a mulching material. Better to make an insulated bed using any biofuel.

We plant seedlings when forming 3-4 sheets (at the age of 25 days). Place it so that 2 to 3 cm of root ball remains above soil level to prevent bacterial rot. We do not tamp the soil, but carefully spill each hole so that the plant settles along with the root ball. We make a deepening of 20-25 cm, fill in a mixture of turf and humus soil there. We plant seedlings without deepening the root collar, since the hypocotal knee is susceptible to fungal diseases.

Pour coarse river sand with the addition of crushed charcoal near the root collar - this is the prevention of various diseases. No water gets on the stem. We plant in 1 m. After planting, we close the tunnels or greenhouses with foil for 7-10 days. In sunny weather, shade the plants with lutrasil until they take root.

Melons do not tolerate transplanting well, so they do it very carefully, trying not to damage the pots and roots. Plants must not be steamed and cold. After planting seedlings of melons in the ground, if the hole is well wet, it is better not to water for about ten days. When applying any kind of fertilizer, the balance of nutrients should be observed. The ratio of the available elements in the soil for the melon (in whatever form they are introduced) should be N: P: K: MgO = 1: 2.5: 3.5: 1.

Melon responds well to organic fertilization, so it is recommended to apply up to 5 kg / m2 of humus under it. Ammonium nitrate in the amount of 300 g per 10 m2 is added to top dressing in several steps, and 250 g of potassium sulfate for the same area. During the autumn soil preparation, depending on the content of nutrients in it, 20-30 kg of humus, 900 g of superphosphate per 10 m2 are introduced. It is better to apply nitrogen and potash fertilizers during the growing season. It is recommended to plant a bed of corn on the north side, like a curtain plant.

melon cultivation
melon cultivation

Formation. Remove the growth point after the formation of the fifth leaf to stimulate the development of lateral stems. 2-3 weeks after the appearance of these stems, select the four strongest ones, and remove the rest. In early June, the shoots are arranged in pairs in opposite directions.

Previously, in greenhouses in northern Russia, melon plants were formed as follows. The first pinching was carried out over 2-4 leaves of the main shoot, then the first-order shoots were pinched over 5 leaves. Lateral shoots growing from the cotyledon node were removed. The plant formation system depends on the variety and growing conditions. But re-pinching of the main stem should be done only after the melon has taken root well.

Airing. When the plants take root, gradually increase the airing. When blooming, it is imperative that the greenhouse be well ventilated to keep the air dry for better pollination. In warm weather, during flowering, we completely remove the film during the day in order to open access to pollinating insects to plants. We cover them again at night. Manual pollination can also be used, especially in cool weather, between 10 and 12 noon. In hot weather, to avoid sunburn, we shade the film.

Thinning of fruits. When the fruits reach the size of a large gooseberry, select four of them with the most regular shape, one on each stem. Remove the rest of the fruits and flowers. We pinch lateral shoots of the second order at the level of two or three leaves behind the intended fruit. We remove the growth point from all main shoots and new growth as it appears. We remove the weak and sterile lashes. We leave the most developed fruits.

We put a board or a small plastic triangle under each fruit so that it does not come into contact with the ground and does not rot. When the size of the ovary is the size of a goose egg, it is set with the stalk up. At the same time, all sides of the fetus develop evenly. The fruits acquire the correct presentation, and the quality of their pulp improves.

melon cultivation
melon cultivation

Top dressing and watering. When the tops begin to intensively fill the ridge, it is necessary to increase the number of waterings. Melons have a strong root system located in the upper soil layer. The roots are intertwined, covering a large volume of soil. This mass of roots must be watered and fed in order to grow good tops, and then the fruits. Water regularly and abundantly, but with warm water to speed up the increase in fruit; the stem must always be dry.

Avoid irregular and over-watering, as the fruit can crack or fall off. The beginning of the ovary is a signal for abundant watering of plants. On especially hot days, you need to water it twice a day. Top dressing is best done after 7 days with liquid fertilizer. We combine top dressing with irrigation, we use 10-12 g of NPK per 10 liters of water per 1 m. Foliar dressing is carried out before flowering, a week after planting the seedlings (with a 0.5% solution of boric acid).

It has been found that flowers are richest in boron in comparison with other parts of plants. It plays an essential role in the fertilization process. If it is excluded from the nutrient medium, plant pollen does not germinate badly or even at all. When flowering, watering is suspended for a week, after fertilizing the planting with a three-day infusion of superphosphate. It is best during this period to reduce watering to a minimum or even completely stop them (but gradually!).

When watering is resumed, we add monopotassium phosphate 2.5 g / m2 to the soil. With the growth of fruits, water again with a three-day infusion of superphosphate with the addition of zinc sulfate to the solution - 0.3 g per 10 liters of solution. In the subsequent dressings, we add potassium nitrate in liquid form - 5-10 g per 10 L. If there is a delay in the ripening of the fruits, it is useful to repeat the introduction of monopotassium phosphate - 2.5 g / m2.

Harvesting

It is very important to determine the optimal time for harvesting, since this is the only way to get fruits with high taste. Ripe fruit can be recognized by the typical melon odor and ring-shaped cracks in the stem. At the end opposite from the stem, the fruit is slightly crumpled under the finger. If you pick it up, it should easily separate from the stem. It is better to shoot the melon in dry weather, but not on a hot day.

If we grow melons in a greenhouse, then for the melon the distance from the base of the side wall to the cornices and to the ridge should be at least 2 m.

Melons are usually grown in single-stem form, less often in two-stem form. They plant it against the wall of the greenhouse and lead the stem to the ridge to give the plant as much light and heat as possible. The soil is prepared, as for greenhouses, - a week before planting, so that it has time to settle and warm up. Soil composition: rotted manure at the rate of 1 part of manure to 5 parts of loam, you can add sawdust; or 20-25 kg / m2 of peat with sawdust in a ratio of 3: 1.

melon cultivation
melon cultivation

A week before planting, add 60 g of steamed bone meal or 60 g of superphosphate and 60 g of complex mineral fertilizer to the garden bed per ten-liter bucket of soil. Pour the prepared soil in beds 30 cm high and 60 cm wide, without crushing it, water it abundantly. If a low temperature is established in the film greenhouse, after planting, we additionally cover the seedlings with spunbond or film, throwing it on metal frames installed along the rows.

On both sides of the greenhouse, we stretch horizontal rows of supporting wires 30 cm one row from the other and 40 cm from the glass. It is effective to use a plastic mesh with cells of 15 cm, for this it is pulled tightly between the projections of the beams. In addition to the wire, you can tie two slats for each plant: one - from the ground surface to the cornice, the second - from the cornice to the ridge (see Fig. 1).

Read part 2. Growing melons in a greenhouse: varieties and hybrids, grafting on pumpkin →

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