If you have a greenhouse, then there is a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that you can try your hand at growing. One of the fruit options worth exploring is melons. Here’s a guide to growing melons in a greenhouse.
There are several different types of melons available, including honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon and all can successfully be grown in a greenhouse. If you wish, they can even be started off inside under glass, then moved out to grow up the wall of a house or garden outside.
Planting Melons in a Greenhouse
Melons can be planted directly into the ground in a greenhouse or into containers. Ideally, aim to plant the seeds between April and May. If you’re using plant pots, then initially the seeds should be planted into pots that are six inches deep, with the seed put into about half an inch deep.
Leave the seeds to germinate, watering them lightly when the soil looks dry. As the seedlings appear and start to grow bigger, take care to avoid over-watering them. As with plants such as tomatoes, too much water can cause the melons to split. Where possible, water the roots of the plants.
As the plants grow taller, pinch out any side shoots that appear – in the same way as you would with tomatoes – to encourage the growth to focus on the main shoot, rather than side shoots.
If you’ve started off growing melons in small pots, you may need to replant them into bigger containers or into a raised bed in your greenhouse, as this will give them more space to spread out and grow bigger.
Where necessary, provide support for the plants, in the form of wire or wooden sticks, so that they have something to grow against and support their weight.
Pollinating Melon Plants
When the first flowers begin to appear on your melon plants, you’ll need to help pollinate the flowers. One of the easiest ways of doing this it to use a small paintbrush or even a pastry brush. Lightly brush the inside of each of the melon flowers with the brush to help spread the pollen.
After you’ve brushed the flowers, leave the plants for three to five days. Ideally, at this point you should be able to see signs of a very small growth – which will become a melon – growing behind some of the flowers. The flowers that aren’t showing signs of growth are male flowers and these now need to be removed.
Caring For Growing Melons
As your greenhouse grown melons grow over the weeks, you’ll need to keep a watchful eye on them. A liquid tomato fertiliser works well as a plant food for melons, so aim to feed your melon plants with this every week. As the melon fruits grow larger, you’ll need to remove some of the leaves surrounding the fruit, to give it space to grow bigger.
As the melon gets large, you may need to rig up extra support for the fruit. Some people find that pieces of netting work well or you could even use a pair of tights! Put the melon into the netting or tight then tie the ends around your wire or wooden supports in the greenhouse.