Vines and Other Climbing Plants




Although Melons need quite a bit of warmth to grow, keen gardeners in Great Britain have grown them for a long time. Back in times long past, the gardens of the “Big Houses,” had specialist Melon and Cucumber greenhouses built that were half sunken. These were easier to maintain the heat in that they needed than in the normal shape of greenhouse. With modern strains and technology, all that is needed is a warm greenhouse, or even an unheated poly-tunnel is all right as Melons will appreciate the conditions that it will provide. Melons are definitely not hardy and are an annual that is grown much like indoor tomatoes, or cucumbers.

However, Melons do need quite a bit more space per plant than Tomatoes and although Tomatoes are often said to “Grow On A Vine,” they don’t, whereas, Melon plants are climbers and have tendrils. Indeed Melons can climb as high as Runner Beans. As a climber they can go up cheap netting for support, but the individual melons themselves do need a separate netting cradle support, hanging from the roof, made for each Melon. A cheap way to make ideal cradles is to use the nets that shop bought fruit such as Oranges are often sold in, or an alternative would be to use nylon stockings. Obviously the larger fruit types like Water Melons would need a lot better support than Honeydew, or one of the other smaller types. 

Unlike Cucumbers, Melons must be pollinated to fruit and it is a good idea to leave the doors open on warm summer days for insects to enter the greenhouse and to cause pollination, or else the flowers may need to be pollinated by hand. This can be done by transferring pollen, from the male flower to the female, with a small paintbrush. Male and female flowers are borne on the same plants and the simple way to tell the difference between the two is that the female flowers have small embryo fruit at the back of the flower.

Melons are not easy to grow well in Great Britain and require some dedication and a good summer although; they are easier to grow than Cucumbers. Even seed germination is not straight forwards, as like many other flat seeds, they need to be sown on their edge to germinate, or else they have a tendency to rot.

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