Melons in the suburbs
I found this article in the old issue of the Household Farm magazine, and I think that it might seem interesting to many. She wrote her amateur vegetable grower near Moscow M. Sobol.
© Forest & Kim Starr
On my site, which is 45 km away from Moscow, I got a solar-heated greenhouse. I’m growing melons in it. My plot is cold - it is located on the shore of the Pyalovsky reservoir, from the south and west it is covered by a forest. The local microclimate is characterized by prolonged cold weather, sharp changes in day and night temperatures, and yet ... melons work out.
People often ask me: where to start melon breeding? Of course, with the selection of the site for the future greenhouse. It should be well-lit (melons demanding light) and at the same time covered from the north winds. The soil is necessary fertile and also light in mechanical composition. I prepare it from equal parts of compost and forest land with the addition of river sand. I fill up the greenhouse with at least one and a half bayonet shovels.
And which greenhouse to build? Much depends on experience and capabilities. In the summer of 1981, which turned out to be hot in Tashkent, I grew melons in a film greenhouse with a “hut” at a height of 2 meters in the ridge. The main drawback of the “hut” is the small internal volume and the strong condensation of moisture that settles on the plants. This moisture does not evaporate until the middle of the day.
In the spring of 1982, I built a glass greenhouse in the shape of a pyramid. Such a greenhouse warms up faster than usual, and the condensate formed from the differences in day and night temperatures, without falling on plants, rolls down the inclined walls. Whatever greenhouse you decide to build, it should be at least 2 m high to the ridge and equipped with sufficiently effective exhaust ventilation.
I grow melons through seedlings. In early April, I sort the seeds. To do this, lower the largest and most complete seeds for 2 minutes in a 3% solution of sodium chloride. I wash and dry the sunken seeds, and discard the rest. On April 7-10, I soak the selected seeds in the same way as the seeds of cucumbers, then harden it - put it in the refrigerator for two days. And only after that I put the seeds in a warm place for germination.
In the same period, I prepare the land by mixing garden soil with purchased soil (“Violet”) in a ratio of 1: 1. I add 1/3 of the volume of river sand to the mixture. Before mixing, soil and sand are steamed.
© Piotr Kuczyński
The earth may be of another composition. The main thing is that it be nutritious and light in mechanical composition. Pour the finished mixture into cups of thick paper. The template for their manufacture is a liter glass jar. I fill the mixture with 3/4 cups, so that there is room for subsequent additions.
I put two or three bent melon seeds in a glass, sealed them in the ground by 1 cm and abundantly watered through a strainer. Then I put the cups in the heated drawer and close the glass. At the same time, I watch so that the soil in the cups does not dry out. A variety of appliances can be used for heating. I use an aquarium reflector with a 25-watt light bulb.
In general, experience suggests that heating is best to have stationary. After all, it will have to be used both when the seeds germinate, and when seedlings develop. Even on a light windowsill, on cloudy days, plants suffer from cold (the temperature is needed not lower than 25-30 °). At lower temperatures, plants are affected by a black leg.
5-6 days after emergence in the glass, I leave only the strongest sprout, pinch the rest. To provide plants with light (in the spring in the Moscow Region there are many cloudy days), I illuminate the seedlings with a fluorescent lamp.
Watering is moderate and only with warm water. "Droughts" must not be allowed. Two weeks later, I sprinkle the seedlings with a pink solution of potassium permanganate. I plant seedlings in the greenhouse when it has three true leaves and the soil warms up to 12-15 ° to a depth of 10-12 cm. Usually this happens in early May.
I plant melons in the Uzbek way. What does it consist of? In the middle of the garden (its width is at least 3 m), I dig a groove 50 cm wide and 1.5 spade bayonets deep. Then I fill this ditch with water until it stops absorbing into the ground. When the water nevertheless leaves and the earth dries up, at a distance of 60–65 cm from each other in the center of the canal, I dig holes 75–80 cm deep and 40–45 cm wide. Half of them are filled with rotted sheep manure (it is close in quality to horse manure ), and half - a mixture of humus, garden earth and sand (in equal parts). I plant one plant in the center of the prepared hole. When landing, only carefully remove the bottom of the cup. I use the same mixture to fill the plant with cotyledon leaves. In this way, a hilling of the plant is carried out, during which the ditch is somewhat narrowed and becomes less deep.
My method is laborious, but has several advantages. Firstly, each plant develops in prepared soil. Secondly, melons do not like when water falls on leaves, especially on stems. This is not happening here. And thirdly, while continuing to “burn”, manure generates heat, and it helps plants survive not only return cold, but also short-term frosts.
When the plants take root (after about 10 days), I pinch over the third sheet. In the future, I give melons to develop freely, if possible directing the stems in the direction opposite to the canal.
I maintain the temperature during the day before the formation of the ovaries within 25-30 °, after the formation of the ovaries it should be higher - plus 30-32 °. The night temperature in the greenhouse is 5 ° higher than the outside. I try to maintain air humidity at the level of 60–70%. In the greenhouse, as I mentioned, effective ventilation is very important.
Since the advent of female flowers, I have been conducting artificial pollination. I pollinate every female flower with three to five male ones.
I take off the fruits before the onset of frost. In the conditions of the Moscow Region, selective collection of ripe melons has not yet been possible. In the summer of 1981, from three plants received 4 melons weighing from 2 to 4 kg, in the unfavorable summer of 1982, from 7 plants received 13 melons, 1-2 kg each. I could not get closer to the average yield of melons grown in industrial greenhouses on solar heating until I could (they collect more than three kilograms from 1 m2) In the future, I think to achieve this.
- About top dressing. With the described agricultural technology, plants developed and felt normal and without fertilizing. Only in the initial period, shortly after transplanting the seedlings into the ground, did I fertilize with a solution of the following composition: I took 1 g of copper sulfate, 0.5 g of boric acid, 0.5 g of manganese sulfate and 0.7-0 for 20 g of garden fertilizer mixture , 8 g of potassium permanganate and all this was diluted in 10 liters of water.
- About watering. Before fruit setting, I spend only one watering before planting seedlings. After setting the fruit, the irrigation canal was filled twice more with water warmed up in the sun. Since in Uzbekistan the first watering is carried out at the time of sowing, I think that in the greenhouse the first watering should be carried out before the seedlings are planted. Then the second will provide the plants with moisture longer.
- About the seeds. This is the most sensitive issue for amateur melon breeding. In my experiments I had to use the seeds of melon Ich-kzyl. They were sent by the Tashkent gardener N. S. Polyakov. He provided me with advice. Thank you for everything. Uzbek melons are rightfully considered the best in the world, and Ich-kzyl (vegetation period of about 90 days) is one of the best varieties of Central Asia. True, the fruits I have grown did not differ last year in particularly good taste. Yes, what a summer it was! It can be said, completely unfavorable.
© Rubber Slippers In Italy
Maybe melon varieties Novinka Dona, Rannaya 13, Dessert 5 would be more suitable for amateur greenhouses. Unfortunately, nothing is sold in the Semyon stores, except for the Kolkhoznitsa variety. I tried twice to germinate the seeds of this particular variety, but to no avail. Apparently, during storage, they lost germination.
The most unpleasant for an amateur melon in the suburbs is the sharp changes in day and night temperatures. Lowering temperatures below + 18 ° at night not only inhibits plant growth, but also causes jumps in moisture indicators, and this, in turn, leads to cracking of the fruits. Such an unpleasant phenomenon occurred to me in 1982, it was it that forced the removal of most of the fruits unripe.
In the near future I intend to arrange the simplest air heating in the greenhouse - it will be easier to grow a southerner in central Russia.
Author: M. Sobol, amateur vegetable grower