Cucumis Melo The popularity of this cool and delicious fruit has in recent years been greatly enhanced by increased knowledge as to the best method of treating the plant, and also by the introduction of several varieties which are attractive in form and superb

in flavour. It would shock a modern Melon eater to be advised to cook a Melon, and flavour it with vinegar and salt, as in the early days of English gardening. A good Melon of the present day does not even need the addition of sugar; the beauty, aroma, and flavour are such that it is not unusual for the epicure to push the luscious Pine aside in order to enjoy this cool, fresh, gratifying fruit that delights without cloying the palate. The newer varieties are remarkable alike for fruitfulness and high quality, and are somewhat hardier than the favourites of years gone by. The Melon is grown in much the same way as the Cucumber, but it differs in requiring a firmer soil, a higher temperature, a much stronger light, less water, and more air. It may be said that no man should attempt to grow Melons until he has had some experience in growing Cucumbers. As regards this point, the hard and fast line is useless, but Cucumber-growing is certainly a good practical preparative for the higher walk wherein the Melon is found. But Cucumbers are grown advantageously all the winter through; Melons are not. The former are eaten green, and the latter are eaten ripe; this makes all the difference. Melons that are ripened between October and May are seldom worth the trouble bestowed upon them; therefore we shall say nothing about growing Melons in winter. The Frame Culture may with advantage begin about the middle of March by the preparation of a good hot-bed. It is best to use a three-light frame, as the heat will be more constant than with one of smaller size. There should be six loads of stuff laid up for the bed, and the turning should be sufficient to take out the fire, without materially reducing the fermenting power. Begin a fortnight in advance of making up the bed, and be careful at every stage to do things well, as advised for the cultivation of frame Cucumbers. The best soil for Melons is a firm, turfy loam, nine inches of which should be placed on top of the manure. In a clay district, a certain amount of clay, disintegrated by frost, may be chopped over with turfy loam from an old pasture. If the soil is poor, decayed manure should be added, but the best possible Melons may be grown in a fertile loam without the aid of manures or stimulants of any kind. It is good practice to raise the plants in pots, and have them strong enough to plant out as soon as the newly-made beds have settled down to a steady temperature of about 80 deg., but below 70 deg. will be unsafe. If plants cannot be prepared in advance, seed must be sown on the bed, and as a precaution against accidents and to permit of the removal of those which show any sign of weakness, a sufficient number of seeds should be sown to provide for contingencies. As regards the bed, it may be made once and for all at the time of planting, a few days being allowed for warming the soil through. But we much prefer to begin with smallish hillocks, or with a thin sharp ridge raised so as almost to touch the lights, and to plant or sow on this ridge, which can be added to from time to time as the plants require more root room. The soil, coming fresh and fresh, sustains a vigorous and healthy root action. The high ridge favours the production of stout leaves, and the absorption by the soil of sun-heat is to the Melon of the first importance. The practice of pruning Melons as if the plants were grown for fodder, and might be chopped at for supplies of herbage, must be heartily condemned. Melons should never be so crowded as to necessitate cutting out, except in a quite trivial manner. A free and vigorous plant is needed, and under skilful attention it will rarely happen that there is a single leaf anywhere that can be spared. We will propose a practical rule that we have followed in growing Melons for seed, of which a large crop of the most perfect fruits is absolutely needful to insure a fair return. The young plants are pinched when there are two rough leaves. The result is two side shoots. These are allowed to produce six or seven leaves, and are then pinched. After this, the plants are permitted to run, and there is no more pinching or pruning until the crop is visible. Then the fruits that are to remain must be selected, and the shoots be pinched to one eye above each fruit, and only one fruit should remain on a shoot; the others must be removed a few at a time. All overgrowth must be guarded against, for crowded plants will be comparatively worthless. It is not by rudely cutting out that crowding is to be prevented, but by timely pinching out every shoot that is likely to prove superfluous. From first to last there must be a regular plant, and not a shoot should be allowed to grow that is not wanted. Cutting out may produce canker, and crowding results in sterility. As the Melon is required to ripen its fruits, and the Cucumber is not, the treatment varies in view of this difference. It is not necessary to fertilise the female flowers of the Cucumber, but it is certainly desirable, if not absolutely necessary, to operate on those of the Melon to insure a crop. The early morning, when the leaves are dry and the sun is shining, is the proper time for this task, which is described in a later paragraph. And the necessity for ripening the crop marks another difference of management, for Cucumbers may carry many fruits, and continue producing them until the plants are exhausted. But the production of Melons must be limited to about half a dozen on each plant, and good management requires that these should all ripen at the same time, or nearly so, fully exposed to the sun, and with plenty of ventilation. The requisite supply of water is an important matter. The plant should never be dry at the root, and must have a light shower twice a day over the leafage, but the moisture which is necessary for Cucumbers would be excessive for Melons. It is a golden rule to grow Melons liberally, keeping them sturdy by judicious air-giving, and to give them a little extra watering just as they are coming into flower. Then, as the flowers open, the watering at the root should be discontinued, and the syringe should be used in the evening only at shutting up. If discontinued entirely, red spider will appear, and the crop will be in jeopardy, for that pest can be kept at a distance only by careful regulation of atmospheric moisture. Melons in frames do better spread out on the beds than when trained on trellises. When so grown, each fruit must be supported with a flat tile or an inverted flower-pot, and means must be taken, by pegs or otherwise, to prevent it from rolling off, for the twist of stem that ensues may check the fruit or cause it to fall. When the fruits are as large as the top joint of a man's thumb, watering may be resumed, and the syringe used twice a day until the fruit begins to change colour, when there must be a return to the dry system, but with care to avoid carrying it to a dangerous extreme. The Melon-house, heated by hot water, is adapted to supply fruit earlier than is obtainable by frame culture, and is entirely superior to any frame or pit. It appears, however, that in Melon-houses red spider is more frequently seen than in frames heated by fermenting material; but this point rests on management, and there can be nothing more certain than that a reasonable employment of atmospheric humidity may be made effectual for preventing and removing this pest. For the convenient cultivation of the crop a lean-to or half-span is to be preferred. The width should not exceed twelve feet, and ten to twelve feet should be the utmost height of the roof. A service of pipes under the bed will be required; but as Melons are not grown in winter, the heating of a Melon-house is a simple affair, and, indeed, very much of the cultivation as the summer advances will be carried on by the aid of sun-heat only. The treatment of the plants in a house differs from the frame management, because a trellis is employed, and the plants are taken up the trellis without stopping until they nearly reach the top, when the points are pinched out to promote the growth of side shoots. In setting the fruit, the same principles prevail as in frame culture, and it is advisable to 'set' the whole crop at once; if two or three fruits obtain a good start, others that are set later will drop off. As the fruits swell, support must be afforded to prevent any undue strain on the vine, and this should be accomplished by nets specially made for the purpose, or by suspending small flat boards of half-inch deal with copper wires, each fruit resting on its board, until the cracking round the stem gives warning that the fruit should be cut and placed in the fruit room for a few days to complete the ripening for the table. In houses of the kind described Melons and Cucumbers are occasionally grown together. But although this may be done, and there are many cultivators expert in the business, the practice cannot be recommended, for ships that sail near the wind will come to grief some day. The moisture and partial shade that suit the Cucumber do not suit the Melon, and it is a poor compromise to make one end of the house shady and moist, and the other end sunny and dry, to establish different conditions with one atmosphere. A glass partition pretty well disposes of the difficulty, because it is then possible to insure two atmospheres suitable for two different operations. (See also pages 157, 175, and 184.) The Pollination of Melons is performed by plucking the mature male blooms, and after the removal of the petals, transferring the pollen of the male flower to the stigma of the female flower.

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