how to grow winter melon

ikea_gwMarch 14, 2011

I love eating this vegetable and this year I am going to grow it in my garden. Problem is I have no idea how I should proceed with this, so I have a few questions. First of all, do I need a support for it or it can be grown on the ground like other type of melons or pumpkin. If it can be grown on the ground how large of an area should I reserve for it. Secondly, should this be direct sown or started indoors then transplanted out. Lastly, how do I store it after harvest? Can it be kept in a basement at around 65 degrees for several months? Thanks!

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Hey, I know the answers to some of these. I grew them last year, and think they are a fantastic crop.

I grew them up on a trellis/A-frame type structure I made out of bamboo poles, but they get much bigger than that and trailed all through my corn. Basically, it's just like growing squash. Vines can be about 15 to 20 feet, so they like a lot of space.

I'm in Michigan, so it's pretty much S.O.P. here to start all warm weather crops ahead of time in the greenhouse and transplant. I don't know if that's necessary in warmer climates. It would probably depend also on the specific variety of winter melon you're growing, and how long it takes to mature. I grew some hybrid types from Kitizawa that make only small fruits and are rated around 80 days to maturity. But I understand some of the largest fruited types require as long as 125 or more days, so variety would make a difference.

I got quite a few fruits off of mine. I've just been keeping them on a wire shelf in my basement, and they've kept great. Out of about 3-4 dozen fruit, only 4 have rotted. I've used or given away most of them. I have about a dozen left, and they look just like they did day 1. It's about 60 degrees down there and actually quite dry for a basement, since I run a dehumidifier to prevent mold from growing on the walls behind the furniture and cabinets.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 6:09AM
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denninmi, how many fruits did you get from each vine? I will definitely start indoors first. I think I have enough time to start outdoors but I prefer to free up space for fall planting of other vegetables.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 6:06PM
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Hmm, good question. I planted out about 8 to 10 plugs, but there were 2 to 4 seedlings in each one. So, I guess the best answer to your question is roughly 4 to 5 fruits per hill, since I had somewhere around 40 total melons -- I never did count them per se, but carried down two big crates, and I did count the first crate, which was 19 fruits.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 7:17PM
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First time I've heard about these, 'Winter Melons'?
How do they compare to a regular melon? What sort of taste?

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 8:25PM
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Um, they have nothing at all to do with a regular (fruit) type melon. They are actually a kind of gourd that is used like a squash -- the flavor overall is very, very similar to summer squash or zucchini. The texture is a little bit firmer and less watery. They have a large central seed cavity similar to a true melon, which explains part of the name, IMO. The "winter" part comes in because they store a long, long time like a winter squash. Think of it as storage zucchini.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 10:38PM
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It is hard to describe the flavor but they are common sold in asian markets. They are often served in soup flavored with country ham or dried shrimp. The melon itself doesn't have much taste to it but it is like a sponge so it soaks up the flavor of the soup.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 1:46PM
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my family grows them in hawaii, the vines crawl over a large area on the ground, it keeps for quite a while, all i remember about it is , they start the seed in cups and transplants them when the second or third set of leaves are out and when they harvest wait until it gets its white coating and the stem is dry or start to shrivel, it keeps for months. we always made squash soup. for banquets, chefs would carve an elaborate design into the skin and serve the halved squash supported in a large tureen, kind of like serving clam chowder in a bread bowl. some of the squashes(winter melon) grows as large as watermelons

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 3:19PM
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