Choosing Melon Varieties for the Garden

Choosing Melon Varieties for the Garden
There are various factors to consider when buying melon seeds or plants. Certain varieties are known to be suited to specific regions of the country or certain types of growing conditions.

Two important factors to keep in mind are the disease resistance or tolerance of the varieties and the length of your growing season.

Gardeners will find that both short season and long season varieties are available. Short season varieties are typically ready to harvest in about 70 to 80 days. Most muskmelons fall into this category.

Depending on the variety, most long season melons need a minimum of 110 to 130 days or so. These generally include most varieties of Casaba, Crenshaw, and honeydews as well as the winter melons.

Watermelons generally need a long growing season of 100 to 120 days, according to the variety.

If your area typically experiences lots of rain and high humidity, take disease resistance into consideration. The descriptions in catalogs and on seed packets should tell whether a particular variety shows resistance or tolerance for diseases. A number of resistant muskmelon and watermelon varieties are widely available. Strawberry watermelon has high disease resistance.

Lots of watermelon varieties are available, including seedless ones. The seedless ones can occasionally produce seeds if the plants become stressed. When planting seedless types, bear in mind that it is also necessary to plant one pollen source for every three watermelon plants. Some seed companies include separate seed packets containing seeds for the pollen source free of charge.

Variety Recommendations

I highly recommend the All America Selections winners because they’re proven winners in all regions of the country. These include Lambkin, a 2009 winner. The uniform plants, which have some resistance to fusarium wilt, provide a good yield. This winter melon will keep several weeks longer than comparable ones. Yellowish-green with green mottling when ripe, the oval fruits mature in 68 to 75 days.

Athena is a widely adapted, popular variety throughout the country. It does very well in the East. This is resistant to fusarium wilt and powdery mildew. Tolerant of cool weather, this disease resistant variety matures in 70 to 80 days. With a tough rind, the fruits, which store well, resist cracking.

Lilly is an early Crenshaw variety that is ready in only 78 days. It has some resistance to watermelon mosaic virus and powdery mildew. This does well in short season regions. Six to eight pounds, the fruits ripen to pale yellow. Lilly features juicy, spicy, orange flesh. The melons are best harvested at full slip.

Minnesota Midget is a 65 to 70 day disease resistant heirloom bred at the University of Wisconsin. Ideal for short seasons, this can be grown in large containers. The small vines are only three feet long. The plants are high yielding. Only six inches across, the fruits have deep orange flesh.

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