On The Management Required In The Culture Of
Early and Late Melons.
For early melons have three loads of dung for a three-light box; but if
you have previously grown early cucumbers, the old linings will be
useful for the melon bed, by mixing a proportion of one half of fresh
with it. This, in fact, will be better than all fresh, as it
requires only once turning, whereas new dung should be turned twice. In
gentlemen's gardens there is generally an abundance of leaves, and
sometimes a scarcity of dung; when such is the case, leaves, mixed with
an equal proportion of dung, may be used very successfully for the
early melon; and for the late one all leaves, from trees or shrubs, will
answer the purpose, particularly where there are brick pits.
Let the dung be put together for a week, and lay the same time before it
is turned. Be careful that the bottom is dry where the bed is built;
raise it with mould or road sand to the height of six or eight inches,
and allow the bottom to be eight or nine inches longer and wider than
the box, so that when the bed is made, it may be drawn up in a gradual
manner to about three or four inches wider than the box, observing at
the same time to beat it well down with a fork. Let it be about three
feet nine inches at the back by three feet six inches in the front;
should there, however, happen to be a scarcity of dung, a foot of
strawberry or asparagus halm, fagots, or pieces of wood, or, indeed,
some of each, may be added at the bottom of the bed.
If the dung is dry, apply water to it, that it may be properly
moistened; and after the bed is formed, let it be again watered, as the
plants will not thrive so well, nor the linings have the proper effect,
if the bed is kept too dry.
The bed should be made three weeks or a month before the plants are put
into it, and must be perfectly sweet before they are ridged out. When
the bed is in a proper condition, hollow it out in the middle to the
depth of four inches, and put a large barrow-fall of mould to each hill,
pressing it down close with the hand about a foot deep.
The day before you intend to ridge out, put a pot of plants in the bed,
to prove whether it is sweet, which, if you ascertain to be the case,
and the box is large, ridge them out, three plants to a light; but if
small two will be sufficient.
The proper time to sow the seed for an early crop is about the middle of
January; and the early cucumber bed will do very well for the purpose.
Those sown at this time will be fit to cut in the first or second week
of May; but if there is no particular necessity for fruit so early, the
beginning of February is a preferable season to sow, when they will be
ready to cut by the latter end of May or the beginning of June.
The Early Cantaloupe is the best sort for an early crop. Let them be
sown in leaf mould, about eighteen or twenty seeds in a forty-eight size
pot; immediately apply water, and plunge the pots in a good sharp heat.
As soon as the seed makes its appearance, which will be in the course of
about three days, if it is good, un-plunge the pots and give them a
little water. In two or three days more they will be fit to pot off,
which ought always to be done when about a week old, as they strike much
more freely when potted off young. Let the soil for potting off the
plants be half leaf mould, and half light loam or bog earth.
The best season to sow for a second crop is the beginning of March, and
well calculated for the Stroud Rock, Scarlet Rock, White-seeded Rock,
Green Flesh, and, in fact, many others of nearly the same description,
though under different names, which they have derived from those
gardeners who have cultivated them by impregnating one with the other.
It is by no means, however, advisable to sow the Black Rock before the
latter end of March, as it is only calculated for a late melon, and
should be grown in large boxes, two plants to a light. This, though a
fine looking fruit, and well flavoured, will not suit those whose object
is to produce a large quantity; for, by attempting to grow more than two
in a light, they will not rock, nor arrive to any degree of
The Stroud Rock is a particular favourite with the Author, who has
produced fruit of this kind upwards of seven pounds in weight, though
the common size varies from three to five. This description of melon is
not generally known, although it is a fine looking and excellent
flavoured fruit: it possesses a thin skin, orange-coloured flesh, and
the rind is very dark.
The Scarlet Rock is, however, the finest flavoured melon that can be
produced, though small in its growth, seldom exceeding the weight of
three pounds, and commonly from one to two. The flesh is of a deep
scarlet colour, and it is rather inclined to rock.
The Early Cantaloupe is the most productive melon in bearing; but in
order to obtain them good flavoured no more than one fruit must be
suffered to swell on a plant at a time, except the lights are large,
when two may be allowed, that is, six in a light; but if, however, the
plants are confined to one fruit, a second crop may be obtained.
The White-seeded Rock is a very fine melon in appearance, and much
approved of by some gardeners for its qualities in ripening early for a
rock; but it will not, however, keep long, soon loses its flavour, and
the colour changes very yellow; it is also extremely tender in its
growth, and very inferior in flavour to the Stroud Rock; neither is it
so handsome a fruit, so well-flavoured, nor does it ripen any sooner.
The Green Flesh is a fine flavoured melon, with a thin skin, but
generally small in its dimensions. The Author has, however, a sort of
this kind that will grow from three to five pounds in weight.
The Black Rock melon should not be sown later than the latter end of
May; the Stroud and Scarlet Rock may be sown as late as the tenth of
June; and the Early Cantaloupe about the twentieth of June.
In order to produce fine fruit, be particular in having a good depth of
earth, from a foot to eighteen inches will be necessary. When the hills
are made for the very early melons, one large barrow-full of mould will
be sufficient, which must be pressed down close with the hand. Those
that are sown in March will require one barrow-full and a half, and
those afterwards two. In applying this mould, put one barrow-full in
first, and tread it down; then add the remainder, and press it close
down with the hand. Procure some good holding loam of a greasy nature,
such as is generally found in the marshes, which is the most preferable
kind of soil for melons, and let it be well weathered before using. It
ought to lay twelve, or at the least six months. Mix this with a sixth
proportion of good rotten dung or leaf mould, and let it be turned over
two or three different times, that it may be properly sweetened and
incorporated together; taking care, however, that it is not broken too
The mould intended for the hills of the first crop should be lighter
than for those grown afterwards, being composed of light loam, mixed
with a sixth part of leaf mould or rotten dung; or an equal proportion
of stiff loam and leaf mould. As mould is added after the plants have
been ridged out, let it be trod down close, and take particular care
that the roots are never exposed to the sun, but as soon as they make
their appearance through the hills, increase the mould, in the
proportion of a barrow-full to each hill for the early melon, and two,
or even more, to the later one.
In watering the plants, as the season advances, you must be regulated by
the composition of the soil, and the temperature of the weather. If the
soil is stiff, it will not require half the quantity that should be
applied to light mould. If the weather is warm, much water is necessary,
but if cold very little should be given, as too much moisture at that
time will create the canker.
Heat being materially requisite for preserving the growth of the melon,
great care must be taken in keeping the bed well supplied with linings,
which must be added until the weather becomes fine and settled; they
will generally be required until the beginning of June; but if the
season is even then cold, it is better to continue them longer.
In covering up the early plants, at the first ridging out, a single or
double mat will be sufficient; after that add a little hay, and increase
it if the weather is cold. This should be continued until the middle of
June, or later, if the season is unfavourable.
Many gardeners being unacquainted with the proper mode of training and
topping the melon, and thereby finding it extremely difficult to set the
fruit, the Author will here give the method always pursued by himself,
which, if strictly observed, will be found to be attended with far less
trouble, and more certain in its effect than the plan generally adopted.
When the plants are potted off, top them at the second break; that is,
let them grow to two leaves; then take out the break, which in some
kinds is in the centre, and in others in the second leaf. If you require
the fruit very fine, two plants will be sufficient in a light; but
should there be no particular necessity in that respect, and the lights
are sufficiently capacious, three may be matured extremely well.
Have four runners to a light; that is, if two plants, two runners to
each; but if three, two runners to one plant, and one to each of the
other two. If the lights are large, they may be suffered to run to eight
joints; but if, on the contrary, the lights are confined, six will be
sufficient; and all other breaks that come out at home, with the first
break that issues from the runners, should be effectually taken away, in
order that the others may derive strength and nourishment. As soon as
they make the first breaks from the runners, which by some are
denominated cross bars, top them at the first joint, and in most sorts
they will generally show fruit; but if it should so happen that this
does not succeed, top them again, when they are certain of showing fruit
at the second.
If they are impregnated in the same manner as prescribed in the
directions for the cucumber, there will be no difficulty in setting the
fruit, which will also show much bolder, and possess greater strength
when topped in close.
Every description of melon will be brought to a greater degree of
perfection, by being suffered to swell off on the first shows, which can
alone be effected by keeping them thin of vine: if this is particularly
attended to, no apprehension need be entertained of the fruit being
small or delicate, as, in proportion to the quantity of vine, so it
decreases the strength and vigour of the plants.
Great care is necessary in watering the plants: when they are young, it
should be applied with a rose; but as soon as the runners are extended
all over the bed, that may be dispensed with. If the weather is dull, a
small quantity of water will be sufficient; and if very fine, more must
be applied carefully without a rose, which will be found beneficial in
causing them to set more freely. An insufficiency of moisture is an
error too prevalent with many gardeners in the culture of the melon, and
indeed the inferiority of their fruit, both in weight and flavour, may
be greatly attributed to want of judgment in this particular; for if the
plants are kept thin of vine, the necessity of which has been before
stated, they are of course more open to the air, and the sun has greater
power in drying up the soil, consequently the plants will become
exhausted, and the fruit will ripen before its growth is properly
The Early Cantaloupe melon, if left to its full time, will be five weeks
from the period of setting before it ripens; the Stroud about six; the
Scarlet seven; and the Black Rock upwards of seven; there will, however,
be some difference between those forced early with bottom heat, and
those grown late; the early ones coming to perfection three or four
days, or even a week before the other.
The proper time to sow for under-ground melons, that is, such as are
grown without linings, is from the twenty-fifth of March to the
twentieth of June; observing, at the same time, that those which are
sown in March will require stronger beds than those that are set three
weeks or a month later.
The beds for the first should be formed of good dung, well worked, and
three feet in height; whereas the latter will only require two feet. Dig
a trench the size of the frame, about eighteen inches deep; and if the
soil is a strong good holding loam, it will answer the purpose for any
description of rock melon; they requiring a strong soil to bring them to
perfection; a light loam, however, may be used for the Early Cantaloupe.
As soon as the bed is formed, tread it down well, make it even, and let
it have about six inches fall from the back to the front; then put on
the boxes and lights, and when the heat rises to its proper height,
which will be in the course of three or four days, put the mould in for
the hills, in the proportion of two barrows-full to a light, levelling
it about an inch all over the bed, for the purpose of preventing the
rank steam from injuring the plants. On the following day they may be
ridged out, and watered, being very particular in sprinkling the bed
regularly over. Admit air freely both night and day at first, until the
bed is purified, and becomes perfectly sweet; this will be the case in
about a week, when they may be shut down at night. Let the topping and
training be the same as directed for the early ones.
If the soil is strong, and of a binding nature, a bank may be made on
the outside, at the back and front, about a foot or eighteen inches
wide, which will prove a great support to the fruit, and cause them to
grow much larger and finer; but if the soil is light and rich, by no
means make a bank, nor ridge out the plants in it, as mould of that
description is not at all adapted for the production of fine melons. The
only one that will in any degree thrive in light rich soil is the Early
Cantaloupe; but any kind of the rock description will never come to
It is here necessary to observe that it is impossible ever to obtain
fine or good flavoured fruit, if more than one is suffered to swell on a
plant at a time, as that support which is essential and ought to be
directed to one object, by becoming divided, is insufficient for the
perfection of more, and naturally weakens the fruit, and renders it of
little or no value.
Many horticulturists experience much difficulty from the effects of the
red spider and canker in melons; the former being caused by keeping them
too dry, and the latter arising from too much moisture. In order to
avoid these evils, the following directions should be particularly
attended to. When the weather is hot, or there is a strong bottom heat,
it is necessary to be free in the application of water, especially round
the sides of the boxes; for when the plants cover the bed, it will not
be requisite to give any in the centre over the stems.
When the plants cover the surface of the bed always water without a
rose, observing that it should be invariably done in the morning, and
when the weather is fine, so as to allow the vines to get dry before
night, which will not be the case, if it is applied in the afternoon;
and should the following day be dull, and perhaps continue so for three
or four, the vines will remain wet, and then there is every probability
of their getting the canker, which entirely proceeds from a cold chill,
created by unnecessary moisture.
The canker is a very destructive disorder, and extremely difficult to
eradicate. The only means that can be adopted, or likely to prove
beneficial, is to keep the plants as dry as possible, and to give a good
heat; being careful, at the same time, not to run into the other
extreme, and create the red spider. If, however, the plants are kept
thin of vine, and water is applied in the manner before directed, no
fear need be entertained of either of the above disorders.
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