This will be the last in the series of posts on melons (I think I am hearing a huge sigh of relief from the audience!) As a wrap up, I want to dispel some of the things we were told about growing melons before we started by some people in the business.

Myth #1 – You can’t grow good melons in New Mexico (it is too hot, It is too cold, too short of season etc.)

As you have seen if you read any of the previous posts, you can grow good melons here in the East Mountains without any special extra effort. The big thing (like many fruit types) is finding the correct variety that does well in our unique climate. By “good” we mean better than what you could buy at the grocery store because after all isn’t that why we are growing them? We hope we can save you some disappointment, time and money by listing the types that did well for us and also the types not to waste the time on.

Myth #2 – You must use plastic to grow melons.

We did not use plastic at all on any melons we grew.  That isn’t to say it might not be beneficial it’s just that we wanted to trial them like most people would grow them. I think plastic would shorten the days to maturity by holding in some of the heat lost at night (it worked well on chilies and tomatoes for us). And it certainly would help with weeds growing in the bed.

Myth #3 – Melons can’t be grown on a trellis or you must support their weight if you do.

Absolutely 100% false.  We grew out 7 varieties of melon on trellis and they performed very well.  The fruit is cleaner and doesn’t have the “dead” spot it has when resting on the ground.  It also prevents them from sitting in water if by a dripper or in a depression after a rain. As for supporting them, we didn’t use any type of sling or support for any we grew.  Our largest was 7 lbs and almost volleyball size and we didn’t lose any dropping off even with our high winds.  The vine gets tough enough and develops a sturdy stem when the melon develops not requiring support.

Myth #4 – Open pollinated or heirloom varieties are better.

Some may be, some not.  This statement isn’t a complete truism.  The best 2 types we grew were both hybrids but we also grew some op and heirloom that were good.

Myth #5 – Melons must be transplanted, not direct seeded.

If you sprout and grow you melons indoors in jiffy pots or the like, 2 weeks is about the longest you should go before transplanting them out into the garden.  I think the 2 week gain is offset by the delay of transplant shock and therefore we direct seeded all of our melons and they had plenty of time to develop.

Myth #6 – Follow the days to maturity guide in the catalog.

As a relative guide they seem pretty accurate, but the actual days to maturity was 20-25% longer than published. Note to that some companies list days to maturity from direct seed and others assume you are transplanting.  Even taking this into account and with virtually every type of vegetable we grew this year not just melons, we had to add 20 – 25% to the time listed.  A 65 day bean took 80 days and on down the line.  Our fall crops which we planted in August were much closer to the catalogs.  I believe that in the spring and early summer the heat gains made during the day are lost by the cool nights resulting in a lower average 24 hour temperature than we assume it to be. Or in other words less heat units than say a normally cooler climate that with a low elevation doesn’t change much from day to night temperatures.

Lets hear from you so we can expand the knowledge base of growing varieties in the East Mountains. 

Our list of varieties and our opinions 

If you can only grow 1 type , try one of these (not in any order)

  1. Sivan F1 Hybrid Melon
  2. PMR Delicious  51 Melon
  3. Arava F1 Hybrid Melon

If you have room to grow more, try one of these

  1. Ein Dor
  2. Yellow Canary Melon
  3. Sleeping Beauty

 Don’t waste the space on it

  1. Kiwano
  2. Banana Melon
  3. Pike Melon
  4. Sakatas Sweet
  5. Casaba- Golden Beauty
  6. Corrales
  7. Ojo Caliente
  8. Santo Domingo
  9. San Juan