The experts at the Miller Plant Farm here in York, PA, know that there are some specific guidelines that gardeners should follow to achieve a maximum melon crop. Whether your garden is located in York, PA or elsewhere, the following tips will be useful.
- Select well drained, fertile field.
- Plow and disc early to conserve moisture.
- A few days before transplanting, disc weeds down and lay plastic mulch. (We feel plastic mulch is essential for all vine crops.)
- Transplant young healty plants (about four leaf stage) usually about May 15th.
- Ground temperature under plastic should be at least 60°F or higher for transplant.
- Space plants 72 inches between rows and every 36 inches on the row. One or two plants per hill.
- Water well before and after planting.
- Starter fertilizer in the water is helpful.
Generally spraying once every 7 - 10 days is sufficient. Apply recommended fungicides to control disease. Also, apply recommended insecticides to control insects, especially striped cucumber beetles. Check with your local extension office for specific recommendations or materials and rates.
- Spray only late in the evening to avoid killing bees. Bees are needed for pollination in vine crops.
- Never over irrigate. Keep check on moisture under mulch during dry spells. The goal is to avoid extremes in levels of moisture.
- Control weeds between mulch. This can be done by hand hoeing, cultivation or use of organic mulches such as straw or grass clippings. A word of caution on grass clippings -- be careful of herbicide residue on grass clippings from lawn treatments for weeds.