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Old 03-23-2016, 08:22 PM
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Soil testing

Testing my soil because I can't grow watermelons I get lots of flowers but I get no melons if and when I do they only grow to about the size of a baseball before the end of the season. I started them indoors and they are about 4 inches tall now but here's what my soil test look like. What do I have to adjust as it seems I have some excess.
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Old 03-23-2016, 08:24 PM
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Old 03-24-2016, 12:04 AM
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Are you sure it is a soil problem? Watermelons take a good deal of heat to mature properly. They grow in the central valley of California, where it is hot day and night. What are your summers like?

Do you have neighbors or friends who grow melons successfully? If so, you could compare the test profile for your soil with theirs.
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Old 03-24-2016, 12:32 AM
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No, I'm not but I've never done a soil test before. I use leaf mulch every year. The first few times I grew them I was only growing a couple vines. I would get flowers but usually not melons. At the farm show in Harrisburg I was talking to a resident grower and they said I should test the soil to see if it was to fertile or that it was lacking something. This year I am trying something different, I am growing two packets of the same variety plus one packet of another variety to see if my previous problem was that I was getting all male flowers on the plants. I start them indoors and choose varieties with the shortest days. Usually 80 days. I live in usda zone 6b.

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Old 03-24-2016, 06:17 AM
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I have yet to successfully grow melons of any kind. I always go with those that require the least number of days to maturation and I've tried varieties of watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew...all with the same dismal results. I've tried more times than I can remember and I always get what you describe...good growth on the vines (excellent growth actually!) and I get fruit development but it never matures. Last year I tried to grow them in pots and had good early development on many but then some of the fruit started splitting at a young age and the others just stopped growing.

I've planted them in the ground and pots. I thought my in ground ones might be due to the soil being "too good" and/or not enough sand so I've done all sort of amending to change the profile and every time it's the same thing...poor fruit development. My best year...closest to getting good fruit was last year in pots but still...they got to a certain size and then they just stopped growing. It's always stumped me too. I so wish I could figure it out because you can NOT get a decent melon in the grocery stores. I end up buying them at farmer's markets so around here we do have people growing good melons but I don't know what they are doing differently than I am.
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Old 03-24-2016, 07:43 PM
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I know some of our "farmer's markets" and roadside stands around here ship stuff in to sell. Maybe that's where the melons come from.
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Old 03-24-2016, 08:10 PM
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How close together are they planted? Can you tell anymore about the growing conditions? We do quite well with melons and pumpkins, lots of direct sunlight, water heavily in morning and fertilize early spring then late summer. I add fresh compost we keep out back each spring as well to the soil. They like to be spaced apart and not to be disturbed (the not disturbed part could just be my superstition since early on in growing them I moved the vines around which "seemed" to hinder growth) anyway that's how we do it out our way. I'll try to note anything else we do, as well be planting soon.
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Old 03-24-2016, 08:41 PM
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You know, gingerhill, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, but much of our farmer's market produce comes from family farms in the central valley. It's only 80-100 miles away, but much hotter than here, especially at night, when we get cool breezes. It makes a difference in what we can grow well and when things mature.

The soil test pictures look like there is plenty of phosphorus and adequate nitrogen and potassium, if I am seeing the colors correctly. I use my own compost and toss in some Rootmaster (7-9-4, with trace minerals) when I plant veggies. I have great success with tomatoes, peppers, eggplants,even hard-shelled squash, all warm -weather crops. But I've never been successful with melons, and I have given up trying. It's not worth the investment in water for a crop that doesn't do well for me.

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Old 03-25-2016, 07:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gingerhill View Post
I know some of our "farmer's markets" and roadside stands around here ship stuff in to sell. Maybe that's where the melons come from.
Some might ship them in but some of the markets my husband and I visit are those where the people have grown the melons in their own gardens. There's a giant farmer's market about an hour W of us and it's a big farm with an absolute ton of things and one is melons. We have friends over there and my Huey used to get his cold laser and VOM treatments at a vet over there so when we were in the area, we would swing in. They had some really good melons! They have the exact duplicate climate as what I have over here so I don't don't know what they do differently. I should ask them this year.

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How close together are they planted? Can you tell anymore about the growing conditions? We do quite well with melons and pumpkins, lots of direct sunlight, water heavily in morning and fertilize early spring then late summer. I add fresh compost we keep out back each spring as well to the soil. They like to be spaced apart and not to be disturbed (the not disturbed part could just be my superstition since early on in growing them I moved the vines around which "seemed" to hinder growth) anyway that's how we do it out our way. I'll try to note anything else we do, as well be planting soon.
In the ground, I had them at the recommended spacing but I don't remember what that was. I typically buy at least 4 of each variety. In the pots, I have very large pots that are similar in size to the old wine barrel kind but deeper and I had 4 plants in each of the pots. As for the vines..I didn't mess w/them when they were in the ground but, last year in pots, the vines had to be moved once in awhile as they grew to keep them from moving into the grass or under one of the Ctsm shelves. ??

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You know, gingerhill, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, but much of our farmer's market produce comes from family farms in the central valley. It's only 80-100 miles away, but much hotter than here, especially at night, when we get cool breezes. It makes a difference in what we can grow well and when things mature.

The soil test pictures look like there is plenty of phosphorus and adequate nitrogen and potassium, if I am seeing the colors correctly. I use my own compost and toss in some Rootmaster (7-9-4, with trace minerals) when I plant veggies. I have great success with tomatoes, peppers, eggplants,even hard-shelled squash, all warm -weather crops. But I've never been successful with melons, and I have given up trying. It's not worth the investment in water for a crop that doesn't do well for me.
I've thought it might be a heat thing too but my aunt who lives in Alaska (red bank) and she says there are people up there that grow them successfully but she didn't know all the facts or details on what they do. Longer days so maybe that's part of it and many people do utilize things to increase heat (foam under beds and/or black fabric) on the soil. She also mentioned that a lot of gardeners who grow in ground will use a clear plastic type tent thingee over the beds which helps increase soil temps and the ambient temperature near the plants. Like a little greenhouse that hold heat. I guess that really could heat things up and even though it seems like I'd be warmer...I guess those type of things plus the longer days might just make a much bigger difference than I'd imagine.

I thought growing in dark pots would do the trick for the soil temps for me because it's a SW exposure area and when I used those pots in the past w/Cannas, the heat literally cooked them. ?? I'm at a loss as to the problems I've had. I'm going to try again this year and I'm adding more sand to the mix in my pots. I know these are all hybrid plants but watermelon come from areas w/a high sand content so I thought I would add more. I know, I know...I'm probably grasping at straws but I really want to cut open and eat a melon that I actually grew. And I want it to be a normal size!

Now that I'm thinking about it...we had an awful lot of rain last year and perhaps too much rain was part of my problem. I know all that rain did in my zucchini and yellow squash. Maybe the dark pots helped but w/the rain...it added a new problem. ? I'll try again in the pots w/more sand in the mix and I'll hope for lesser rains and see what happens.
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Old 03-25-2016, 08:17 PM
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Them some pretty big pots Katrina! I think your idea of mixing the soil for better drainage will help. Besides that all you need is plenty of sun, good aeration between the plants and some fertilizer.
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Old 03-26-2016, 05:24 AM
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Them some pretty big pots Katrina! I think your idea of mixing the soil for better drainage will help. Besides that all you need is plenty of sun, good aeration between the plants and some fertilizer.
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Old 03-28-2016, 09:06 PM
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Growing any kind of melon, you need absolutely full sun, zero shade. Make a pile of composted manure on the ground, mix it into the soil in a low mound (called a hill), maybe work in a handful or two of balanced granular fertilizer too. Just plant several seeds directly into mound rather than starting them indoors. When seedlings are growing, thin out all but one or two of the strongest seedlings. Don't be bashful about topdressing the hill with a handful of fertilizer when the plants have gotten large. Keep them well watered (not soggy, but never hurting for moisture). If they do make melons, you want to wait and harvest when the vine tendrils start turning brown close to the watermelon.
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