How To Grow Melon In A Greenhouse

Did you know you can grow melon in the UK? Well find out here how. Lots of gardeners have tried growing different things in there greenhouse and polytunnels. They may have tried tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers. Not many have ever tried growing melon. When people think of melons they think they would need to be grown abroad but the temperature in a greenhouse is perfect from growing decent melons with great results.

Looking after, nurturing and caring for your melons you should get great crops from the plants. We have created a how to guide on growing melons, from sowing, growing and harvesting the melons in the greenhouse or polytunnel.

Turning up at your friends or family with a homegrown melon – they wont believe you and they will think that you have purchased it from the shop. It will certainly taste a lot sweeter than the shops melons. The best variety of melons to grow is honey dew and cantelope.

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When to Sow, Plant and Harvest Melons

Konwing the right time to sow your meon seeds is critical. If you have a warm greenhouse or poytunnel you can start them off pretty early but if you have not got anyway of warming up your greenhouse plant them when the weather is warmer.

PlantMay to June
HarvestJuly to September

How do you sow Melon Seeds

Whenever you grow fruit and vegetables it is always best to start these off in a greenhouse as frost can still occur up to the middle of May. You can sow your melon seeds from April right through to the beginning of May.

To start your melon seeds off all you need to do is get a seed tray that has holes in the bottom for drainage. Put a layer of compost in the bottom and evenly spread out your melon seeds on the compost. Cover the seeds with another layer of compost and water with a watering can which has a rose head on (sprinkle head). You can then place your seed tray in your greenhouse and wait for germination. When the melon seeds have germinated you can transplant them into their own plant pots – choose the best ones to pot up you can discard the other ones.

How to grow melon seeds

You will be ready to transplant your melon seeds again when they have grown some more and they have at least two true leaves on them. You can either purchase grow bags to grow them in or use flower buckets with holes in the bottom.

The temperature you will be looking at growing your melons needs to be around 18 degrees at a minimum and a high temperature of 23 degrees. If it is hotter you will need to add ventilation to your greenhouse or polytunnel. Before planting your melon plants in the grow bags or flower buckets place the compost in the greenhouse or polytunnel to warm up. If the temperature of the soil is over 21 degrees you will get a much better crop from the melon plants. Adding rich organic matter to your compost you will make the conditions better for the melon plants to grow. Having great drainage for your plants helps as they could get waterlogged which will kill the plants.

A critical plan for the melons is to make sure they have support to grow up like cucumbers as they trail as they grow and you don’t want them trailing along the floor. Ideal support would be chicken wire or netting as you can fasten the plant to the support easy.

When the melon plant starts to grow you need to fasten the main shoot to the support that you have created in your greenhouse. A bit like when you grow tomatoes you nip of the side shoots to encourage the plant to grow rather than bush out, you do this with melon plants also. When your melon plant has reached the top of the support you can also nip it off to stop it growing anymore, this way the plant can concentrate on growing big fruit. When the Melon plant starts to put flowers out you want to keep the number of buds low as well so that it just concentrates on growing a few melons.

When you are watering your melon plant which is the main thing you need to make sure that the water is reaching the depth of the roots that are growing. You do not want to waterlog them. If you water them too much this can cause the melons to split and you could end up loosing the fruit (which you don’t want). One way you can keep the melons plants moist is to set up a drip irrigation system connected to a water butt – which are cheap and easy to set up in the greenhouse and polytunnel. If you are growing your melons straight in the soil you could always put a plant pot into the ground next to the melon plant or even use a piece of tubing in the ground to water through. To feed your plants you can use your feed that you have for the tomato plants and give them some once a week when you start to see the melon appear on the plants.

The pollination of your melon flowers is important because if bees cannot pollinate the flowers the melons will not grow. So try and leave your greenhouse or polytunnel door open to let the bees get in. To improve chances of pollination you can use a small paint brush and pollinate your self by touching each flower. After you have done this you can wait a week and remove the male flowers from the melon plant. The way to tell which are the male and female melon flowers is the female ones will have a small melon shape behind the flower.

When the melons start to get big they will need support to help them so that they don’t snap the plant. This can be done by fastening a net round the melon or some people even use bras for extra support.

When the melons are getting big you will want them to start to ripen and get sweeter, you can help them by removing any leaves that maybe covering the melon. If the melons are sat on the ground you need to get them off the ground as this will encourage them to grow in a ball shape. You can do this by placing them on a plant pot or even on a piece of wood.

When to harvest melon

All melons take different times when it comes to harvesting. It will show when it is ready to be harvested by different methods you can try. As like tomatoes they all ripen at different times so it’s a case of watching and waiting for them to ripen. Here we provide you some great tips and advice for when the melon plant is ready to harvest:-

  • Watch for the melon to stop growing, then gently tap it. If the sound is a dull sound
  • The melons will give off their melon smell
  • If you are still not satisfied you can cut one off the vine and cut it open to see if it is ripe.

When harvesting melons you can harvest them later than the shops would do so the melons will be a lot more sweeter than the shop versions as the melons will create more natural sugars thus making them sweeter to taste and more juicy.

Growing Melons is a great reward as the melons will be the best you have ever tasted. Make sure you pick the melons before they detach themselves as this means the melon will be rotten on the inside

We hope you have found these tips useful for growing melons in the greenhouse and polytunnel.

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