There’s nothing like fresh watermelon from the garden on a hot summers day. It’s a crop that usually needs a fair bit of ground space to grow, but with this frame I’ve been trialling, I reckon you can grow a decent crop of melons just about anywhere, even in the smallest inter-city backyard patch.
You can read about how I set up the trail here. I kicked off on the 25th Oct, and already, 6 weeks later, the vines have progressed well and I’ve trained them to cover the galvanised wire mesh frames. What is even more encouraging is the amount fruit developing already at this early stage. With the vines suspended above ground, it’s been really easy to get in and check for the presence of flowers and pollinate them by hand. So far I have 8 melons developing, with many more to come… and as you can see, I have installed the first of my bamboo shelves to support the weight of the fruits as they swell and fill with water.
So far, there’s been no incidence of typical fungal disease such as powdery mildew, and I put that down to the additional airflow around the vines now they are up off the ground… but if spraying does become necessary, then it will be much easier to get in and apply good coverage of organic fungicides on the top and bottom surfaces of the leaves to gain effective control.
The real bonus has been the additional crops I’ve been growing beneath the frame. The sun protection was much appreciated by the lettuces, bok choy, radish and rocket on some of the hot days we experienced last week. Most of these have been harvested already ad I’m preparing to plant more salad greens for the summer. All this in a space that’s only 1.5 x 3m. Why don’t you give it a try?
First published: December 2011