What cultural practices will give me an earlier melon crop?


What cultural practices will give me an earlier melon crop?


Starting Seeds Indoors

To obtain an earlier crop, start melon transplants indoors.  Sow seeds indoors 3 to 4 weeks before the anticipated outdoor planting date.  Plantable containers, such as peat pots, work best as both plant and container are transplanted directly into the garden, resulting in little damage to the transplant’s root system.  Sow 3 or 4 seeds per container, later remove all but 2 seedlings.  Transplant outdoors when plants have 1 or 2 true leaves.  Harden the plants outdoors for a few days prior to planting to lessen transplant stress.  Initially place the transplants in a shady, protected location and then gradually expose the plants to longer periods of direct sun. 

Mulching with Black Plastic

Black plastic mulch can also be used to obtain an earlier melon crop.  Black plastic promotes spring growth by warming the soil.  The plastic mulch also helps to conserve soil moisture and control weeds.  Lay the black plastic over moist soil on a calm day.  Anchor the edges of the plastic mulch by making furrows 2 or 3 inches deep, placing the edges in the furrows, then covering with soil.  To plant, cut holes in the plastic with a sharp knife or bulb planter.  The holes should be in the center of the plastic film and just large enough to plant the seeds or transplants.  


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