|Genus ||Cucumis |
|Species ||melo |
|Variety ||Hale's Best Jumbo Organic |
|Item Form ||(P) Pkt of 20 seeds |
|Days to Maturity ||86 |
|Fruit Color ||Orange |
|Habit ||Vining |
|Seeds Per Pack ||20 |
|Plant Height ||12 in |
|Plant Width ||5 ft |
|Fruit Diameter ||6 in - 7 in |
|FruitWeight ||80 |
|Additional Characteristics ||Direct Sow, Edible, Heirloom |
|Harvest Season ||Early Summer, Late Summer, Mid Summer |
|Light Requirements ||Full Sun |
|Soil Tolerance ||Normal, loamy |
|Uses ||Outdoor |
When you think of melons, you probably think of summer. It's hard to beat the simple pleasure of eating a sweet, juicy slice of chilled honeydew or watermelon on a hot day. Well, the world of melons has far more to offer than that one nostalgia-inducing delight, and what a delicious world it is!
There's a wide variety to choose from, ranging in size from slightly larger than a softball to hefty 50-pound beauties, and they come in a range of colors, both inside and out. Melons are extremely versatile, proving wonderful freshly picked or cooled in the refrigerator, and they make a healthy dessert or snack as well as an ingredient in salads, salsas, entrees, side dishes, and drinks!
Choosing a Variety
When choosing which variety of melon to grow, you will want to take into consideration the size of your growing area. Melons are vining plants and tend to require a lot of space, so be sure to grow only varieties you know you'll enjoy eating. Some gardeners have started growing melons vertically (on trellises, etc.) in order to conserve space. If you want to try this method, research which ones would be most appropriate.
Since melons come in such a wide variety of sizes, colors, and flavors, these characteristics will also play a role in what types you decide to plant in your garden.
When to Start
If you live in an area with a long growing season, Melons do best if the seeds are sown outdoors when the soil is warm and all danger of frost has passed. You can sow them indoors 3 to 4 weeks before night temperatures remain above 55 degrees F.
How to Start
Whether you are planting indoors or out, sow your Melons at a depth of 4 times the size of the seeds. If you're planting inside, sow them in individual pots, as they don't like being transplanted. Seedless Watermelons should be started indoors.
When sowing outdoors, make a small hill of fertile, well-drained soil and plant 3 to 5 seeds about 2 inches apart. Water well.
Expect your Watermelons to germinate in 8 to 14 days. Other Melons will germinate within 7 to 10 days.
You need to harden off your young Melon plants for at least a week before planting them out. Set them outdoors in a lightly shaded area for an hour or two. The next day, give them a longer visit outside until they remain outdoors overnight, still in their pots. Naturally, if a cold spell hits, bring them indoors again to wait for the temperature to rise.
You will want to transplant your Watermelon seedlings when they have at least two sets of true leaves. Be very careful with the roots -- they resent being disturbed. Space them about 2 feet apart in rows that are 6 to 8 feet apart, or plant them in threes on hills. Space the hills 6 to 8 feet apart. Plant in full sun, in a rich, sandy, well-drained soil. You will need to water well while the plants are growing, but once the fruit is ripening, keep the soil on the drier side, as this will improve the sweetness and flavor.
Fertilize before you plant and then again every 4 weeks. You will want to transplant your Melon seedlings when they have at least two sets of true leaves. Space them about 18 inches apart in rows that are about 4 feet apart, or plant them in threes on hills. Space the hills 4 to 6 feet apart. Plant in full sun, in a rich, sandy, well-drained soil. You will need to water well while the plants are growing, but once the fruit is ripening, keep the soil on the drier side, as this will improve the sweetness and flavor.
Once your Melons have been transplanted, if cold weather should threaten, you can make a mini-greenhouse out of a one-gallon, plastic milk jug. Just cut the bottom off and set it over the plant, pushing it about ½ inch into the ground. During the day, it can be vented by removing the cap.
Be sure not to start your Melons too early.
- Large Watermelon seedlings do not transplant well.
- Watermelons need a long growing season with relatively high temperatures -- between 70 and 80 degrees F during the day and between 65 and 70 degrees F at night.
- Don't set out Watermelon plants until all danger of frost has passed, as they are very sensitive to freezing temperatures.
- Some gardeners, particularly those living in cold-winter climates, choose to plant their Melons through black plastic mulch, as it absorbs heat, warms the soil early, helps retain moisture, makes harvesting easier and cleaner, and aids in keeping away weeds, pests, and diseases.
- Melons are both thirsty and hungry, so be prepared to water well and provide plenty of nutrients. Give them a minimum of 1 inch of water a week -- 2 inches is better. Water in the morning, preferably with a drip irrigation system.
- About once a month, add several inches of compost to all root areas.
- Watermelons do well in humid or semi-arid areas, but foliar diseases are less likely to occur in drier climates. They also prefer sandy loam soil, but clay soils can be quite productive if raised planting rows are mulched with black plastic film.
- Female flowers are the only ones that develop Melons, so don't become upset if the first flowers you see are not setting fruit. The earliest flowers are male (pollen bearing), and they can't produce fruit.
- Make every effort to protect the bees during the flowering period, as honeybees are the most effective pollinators of Melons.
- If you don't have a lot of space to grow Melons, there are some varieties that can be grown in containers or up trellises. You will have to make sure you have a container that is large enough to handle the plants, and pick a Melon that isn't going to get so large that it will be too much, for either a container or a trellis.
- Harvesting your Melons at the peak of perfection takes some experience. For Watermelons, check the ground spot -- it will change from pale green or white to cream or yellow, and the tendrils near the stem will become dry and brown. You will also find the skin to be rough to the touch and resistant to penetration by your thumbnail.
- Other Melons tend to become fragrant when they're ripe. Sniff the skin, and if it smells like the flavor of that particular Melon, it is probably ready to be picked. Also, with many Melons, the stem will easily separate from the fruit when ripe.
- You can tell when your Cantaloupes are ripe by looking at the rind -- it will change from green to tan-yellow between the veins.
- Honeydew and other winter Melons will turn completely white or yellow when they're ripe, and the blossom end of the fruit will be slightly soft to the touch.
- Watermelon vines hate to be disturbed. Their leaves orient themselves to the sun, and if you move the vine and disturb the orientation, it can actually set the plant's development (and fruiting!) back a bit while the energy goes into slowly re-orienting the leaves to the sun.
Pests and Problems to Watch For
- Cucumber beetles will sometimes attack watermelon plants. These can be controlled with the application of an insecticide or the use of row covers early in the season before the beetles have a chance to get to the crop. You can leave the row covers in place until the plants begin to bloom, at which point they need to be removed so pollinating insects can reach your plants.
- Fungus diseases, including Alternaria leaf spot, powdery mildew, anthracnose, and downy mildew are also possible.
- Prevention is the key to disease and pest management. Healthy plants are far less likely to attract problems than weak ones. Plant in rich, well-drained soil in full sun with plenty of air circulation, and you'll get healthy plants that bear lots of fruit.
- Walk around your garden several times a week and inspect your plants. Immediately remove any that have signs of disease.
- Clean up well after the season has passed to prevent anything carrying over to the next year.
- Rotate your crops to keep possible diseases from transmitting season to season.
- Contact your local Extension Office for specific disease and pest prevention and management in your area.
View All Know Before You Grow Topics
These are one of my favorite melons. They are always sweet and full of flavor.
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Superior Germination Through Superior Science
Park Seed offers some of the highest-quality vegetable and flower seeds available in the industry, and there are a number of reasons for this.
First of all, we have humidity- and temperature-controlled storage, and we never treat any of our seeds with chemicals or pesticides. Nor do we ever sell GMO's (genetically modified seeds), so you always know the products you're buying from us are natural as well as safe for you and the environment.
Superior Standards - University Inspected
To make sure we are providing the best seed product possible and that our customers will get the highest number of seedlings from every packet, we conduct our own germination testing and have quality-control measures in every stage of our seed-handling operation. We hold ourselves to standards that are at or above federal and state standards, including testing specific crops more frequently than recommended by federal guidelines. And in order to maintain our organic certification, we welcome Clemson University to inspect us annually to make sure our organic seeds, which are stored and processed separately, are being handled properly.
Hand Packed By Experienced Technicians
Park Seed has been handling and packing vegetable and flower seeds for 145 years, a history that has given us a great understanding of how each variety should be cared for and maintained throughout every step of theprocess, from collection to shipping.
When packing our seeds, the majority are actually done by hand (with extreme care!), and we often over-pack them, so you're receiving more than the stated quantity.
The Park Seed Gold Standard
And many of our seeds are packed in our exclusive Fresh-Pak gold foil packets, which are lined to keep moisture out, so the seeds stay fresher for longer. We carefully pack very tiny or fragile seeds in crush-proof vials to ensure safe delivery to your home. Some of the small seeds are also offered as "pellets" (have a clay coating) to make sowing and growing easier.
When it comes to the kinds of seeds we offer, we are constantly seeking something new and provide many unique and hard-to-find varieties from all around the world. Our on-staff horticulturists are ready and available to share their expertise to help you with the success of these seeds, so you can grow a beautiful and productive garden!
Does Park sell GMO's or treated seeds?
It is important for our customers to know that Park Seed does not sell GMO or treated seed. We do buy a small amount of traditional hybrid seed from Seminis, a division of Monsanto Co., but that is all we purchase from them.
What are the differences between organic, heirloom, and hybrid seed?
Basically, organic seeds are seeds that are produced without the use and exposure to artificial/chemical fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and other chemicals. They have to be grown, harvested, stored, and handled under very strict organic rules and procedures. All of our organic seeds are USDA 100% certified organic through Clemson University and the certificate has to be renewed yearly.
Heirloom Seeds are open-pollinated -- they are not hybrids. You can gather and save heirloom seed from year to year and they will grow true to type every year, so they can be passed down through generations. To be considered an heirloom, a variety would have to be at least from the 1940's and 3 generations old (many varieties are much older -- some 100 years or more!).
Hybrid seed are the product of cross-pollination between 2 different parent plants, resulting in a new plant/seed that is different from the parents. Unlike Heirloom seed, hybrid seed need to be re-purchased new every year (and not saved). They usually will not grow true to type if you save them, but will revert to one of the parents they were crossed with and most likely look/taste different in some way.
What are pelleted seeds? Why do you use them? How do I handle/sow them?
Extremely small seed such as Petunias and Pentas are shipped as pelleted seed to make them easier to handle and sow. Pelleted seed are coated, usually with clay, to make them larger in size. After sowing, the coating will dissolve when wet and the seed will germinate. Pelleted seeds are shipped in vials placed inside seed packets, which protects them from being crushed. When sowing, be certain to use thoroughly moistened soil, to be sure that the clay coating absorbs enough moisture to dissolve. For sowing pelleted Petunia seeds, place the seeds directly on the soil surface and do not cover with soil, as light aids in the germination.
What is ideal temperature to germinate most seeds?
The ideal temperature to germinate most seeds is approximately 70 degrees F; give or take 1-2 degrees either way. This would be a good germination temperature for most flower and vegetable seeds and would be the most practical and feasible temperatures achieved for gardeners starting seeds in the home. You will notice for some seeds that it is recommended to use alternating day (warmer), night (cooler), temperatures, which is fine if one can provide such conditions. But most people are unable to provide those temperatures in a home setting, so just use the overall 70 degree F recommendation and the seeds should germinate well.
How long should grow lights be kept on per day and how close to the plants should the light be kept?
For germination and seedling/plant growth, you want to simulate the natural day-night cycles, and as a general rule, grow lights should be on 8-12 hours per day and off at night. You can vary this timing, as some seeds such as tomato, pepper, petunia, impatiens, and others, benefit from 14-17 hours of light per day (and the remainder of the 24 hour period in darkness). The most common grow lights used are fluorescent; using cool white, warm white, and wide-spectrum fluorescent tubes. These lights work well for germination and for growing plants up to a transplantable size. Fluorescent lights should be kept close though, 3-6 inches above the soil or the growing plants, adjusting the height as the plants grow.
How long will seeds keep in storage?
Park Seed stores seed in a special temperature- and humidity-controlled storage facility, which keeps seeds in excellent condition. Our seeds should be good for at least 1-2 years on average. Seed viability and storage time will vary depending on the seed item; some will keep a shorter time and some will keep longer. Seeds should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place. A basement will do (if not too humid), or a cool, dark room or closet. We recommend the best way to extend seed storage life is to store them in something air tight, such as a plastic zipper storage bag or canning jar, and place it in the refrigerator. This will extend the life of seeds for many years.
What is the best way to store seeds over a longer time period?
We recommend the best way to extend seed storage life is to store seeds in something air tight, such as a plastic zipper storage bag or canning jar, and place it in the refrigerator. This will extend the life of seeds for many years.
What depth should I sow various seeds?
When sowing seed outdoors, we recommend a maximum planting depth of 4X the width of the seed. When sowing seed indoors, the planting depth can be less, depending on the seed being sown, so it is always best to check specific directions. Here are some general guidelines concerning planting depth in relation to seed size: Tiny, dust-like seeds need to be sown on the surface of the growing medium or soil, uncovered, as they need light to germinate. The planting depth for small seed can be anywhere from barely covering, to 1/8-inch deep, to possibly 1/4-inch deep, depending on the recommendation. Medium seed should be planted at 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep, depending on the recommendation. Larger seeds can be planted 1-inch or deeper, depending on the recommendation.