melons for northern cooler climates, WI

rod_95(5 se WI)September 17, 2008

I grew a few melons (Pride of WI, Netted Gem, Anne Arundel) this past year, but was mainly disappointed. It was a tough, tough summer with very cool temperatures and growing conditions for melons. Living between Madison, WI and Milwaukee WI, in zone 5, the season felt more Zone 4-ish. June was especially cool with highs only reaching the 60's, with plenty of cold rain. I think I've learned a bit in the process (I'll use black plastic mulch next season,) but I think I need expert help to really have great success next year. I wonder if you wouldn't mind helping answer a few questions? I'd like to introduce my kids to great home-grown melons.

What melon varieties have proven to do well in cooler climates? I'm open to melons from all regions (NA, Eur and Asia.)

As I mentioned, I'll use black plastic mulch next year, but do you recommend trellising for improved yields and for combatting cool weather? In combination with black plastic?

When trellising, what's the ideal distance between plants? How strongly do you feel about trellising? I have adequate space to allow rambling, but willing to trellis for more, ripe melons (though would prefer less work :)

My soil conditions are good, and I continue add organic material like grass clippings and leaves. Do you recommend anything else to help melon growth?

Thank you for whatever help you can provide. I hope this is the correct forum. If not, please advise if other forums are more suitable.

Best wishes, Rod McCrimmon

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The earliest cantaloupe that I have grown is Alaska (Vesey)Fast Break and Halona are also touted as short season melons. Earlisweet and Goddess ( Stokes seed) are also short season melons. Maverick, Earlichamp, Earligold, Earliqueen, and Sweet Granite ( Johnny's) are possibilities.
Black plastic will be valuable in a cooler climate. Trellising, you are on your own.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 5:15PM
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You might try the Minnesota Midget. They're not big, but they are very sweet, and i quite liked the flavor, and they were designed to grow in a short season.

I grew most of my melons on trellis this year, and let 3 plants sprawl. The sprawlers had much better production, but the ones that were trellised stayed much healthier overall - they had no disease issues and the melons were much more perfect individually. I will probably do half and half next year, trellis some and let some sprawl.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 9:37PM
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flora2b(z6a bc)

Growing melons can be a bit tricky and variety is importantas is using black plastic., but it is only part of it. I also suffer from cool nights in June, which melons really help things along either cover the vines with floating row cover or a tunnel of will get earlier and bigger fruit. Remember to remove the covering when the vines begin to flower to let those bees do their job.
I found trellising to be a bust as well.
Watermelons Golden Crown & Sugar baby for me have been earliest, also Cream of Saskatchewan. Cantaloupes...lots of varieties seem to work well, but earlidew is always a winner.
Good luck and have fun.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 12:38AM
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I live in zone 5 at 7,000 feet and this year we got no rain until August, two weeks of summer heat and the rest of the time the temperatures were up and down with lots of cold nights. For the first time I grew two plants of a small Black Tailed Mountain watermelon. They were grown with black plastic and over the top clear plastic until they started to bloom. So far I've eaten three excellent ripe watermelons and have another three to eat as they turn creamy/yellow on the bottom. This seems to be a good short season watermelon.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 9:25AM
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Rod I live north of you in west cent. WI This year I planted 3 hills of Athena musk melon and had 21 ripe ones. Very sweet. I also grow Black Tail Mountain watermelon for several years. They are great. I also grow them on black plastic. Since I started with the plastic I always get ripe melons.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 10:27AM
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