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RogueRose
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Question - Melons

Hi folks! I haven't disappeared! I just have been super busy. The garden is going well. My lettuce has finally bolted and I need to pull it up. The rabbits have been nibbling on it and I've been letting them. No recent sightings of the groundhog - the kitty litter seems to be doing the trick. I've been enjoying garlic, potatoes, raspberries, basil, mint from the garden lately. I'm STILL getting snowpeas too. I'm surprised they're still going! Pretty sure my carrots are ready but haven't pulled any up yet.

A couple mishaps - as I posted in the corn section I messed up the soap spray and killed some leaves on my tomato plants. But other than cosmetic, they don't seem no worse for the wear and still have lots of flowers and fruit coming in.

My Peruvian Giant Corn is growing taller and taller every day - it's about chest-high now (I'm 5'10). I've lost 3 stalks to wind. It's not just bending over but completely snapping off at the base. I have staked two so far. The rest are doing well.

My question pertains to my melons (which are planted WITH the corn): I am finally getting some flowers on them. I've always been nervous about the pollination of these guys and getting fruit out of them. Much to my relief I HAVE seen lots of bees around. Mostly bumbles but some smaller bees (I honestly don't know if they're honey bees or some other, but as far as I can tell they look like honey bees). My yard isn't really CRAWLING with them, but I do see a fair amount. Nothing to get me worried. I haven't cut my lawn in 2 weeks and have a healthy growth of clover. I'm planning on not cutting the lawn for awhile to continue to encourage the pollinators to come to the lawn. I have some flowers - lilies, hydrangeas, fuscia, some tropical thing that hangs, and I think the lemon is flowering but not sure. Should I hand pollinate? Or do you think I should be covered with the pollinators? And does anyone have any helpful links on hand pollinating if you think I SHOULD hand pollinate?

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nedwina
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I read an article last year (maybe on SARE?) that was interesting: if there's a better/tastier source of nectar or pollen near your garden, the bees will go for the tastier one every time. And ignore your vegetables!

I witnessed that myself, with an African Blue Basil near my cukes one year. I ended up cutting all the blooms off. I had to cart them away to the compost pile because the bees still prefered them when they were lying wilting on the ground! Hey! Stop that!

Watch your melons. If you see no bees in the blooms, ever, it might be a good idea to cut the clover in your lawn. If you still don't see any bees in blooms after that, then I would hand pollinate, just to be sure.

Hand pollination is fairly easy, just determine who's who. There are a zillion sites that have good instructions & pictures. In general, female flowers have a bulge behind the blossom and males are on longish stems. Pinch off a male blossom and poke it into a freshly opened female one. When I hand pollinate I usually do two or three females per one male. Certainly you can get a paintbrush or q-tip to make sure you get good contact, but I just match 'em up face to face and maybe give it a tap or two.

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ReptileAddiction
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To hand pollinate just touch the stamen to the pistil.

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applestar
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I had to cart them away to the compost pile because the bees still prefered them when they were lying wilting on the ground! Hey! Stop that!
:lol:

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PunkRotten
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I see some bees going to my cuke and melon flowers but I hand pollinate part time. I think it is a good idea if you don't have many bees.

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RogueRose
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Ok....I went to hand pollinate. But I have all of one flower. I think they're all female.....NOW what do I do?

[img]https://i259.photobucket.com/albums/hh302/jeauthomas/From%20Cell/IMG_20120629_164822.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i259.photobucket.com/albums/hh302/jeauthomas/From%20Cell/IMG_20120629_164828.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i259.photobucket.com/albums/hh302/jeauthomas/From%20Cell/IMG_20120629_165013.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i259.photobucket.com/albums/hh302/jeauthomas/From%20Cell/IMG_20120629_165003.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i259.photobucket.com/albums/hh302/jeauthomas/From%20Cell/IMG_20120629_164812.jpg[/img]

albucsfan
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Not sure what type of melon you have, but pretty sure that's a male flower, I know on all of my squashes & melons the baby fruit behind the female flower is pretty stinking obvious :D.
Most of them start with all male flowers for a bit, then the females come along later.
I love the part about letting the clover grow... That's what we told everyone we were doing when we were in mid kitchen remodel & hadn't mowed in nearly a month :lol:

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PunkRotten
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Yeah those are male flowers. And my experience has been that the plants put out a bunch of male flowers before you see a female. The female flower will have an ovary that looks just like a miniature fruit. You will know it when you see it. Just keep looking daily.

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RogueRose
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I wasn't quite sure what the "bulge" looked like so I thought with these there was a bulge behind the flower - then someone pointed out it was more like a "marble" - and I figured out that these were male flowers instead of female. A lot of the pics I was seeing of males too didn't have any sort of 'bulge' but just went straight up into a flower. I have 2 watermelon plants (pictured is just a watermelon) and honeydews.

Thanks for the help! I hope the girls show up before the boys run out!

albucsfan
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:D they will I'm sure! We've got sugar baby watermelons, behind the female flower is a little watermelon, stripes & all, about the size of a fingertip. Cute!

BP
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This may help. Pictures of melons I grew in 2010.

This is a female sugar baby watermelon flower with an unopened male flower behind it.
[img]https://i207.photobucket.com/albums/bb9/BP991/garden%202010/015.jpg[/img]

This is a female Honeydew flower not opened yet with a male behind it.
[img]https://i207.photobucket.com/albums/bb9/BP991/garden%202010/009-2.jpg[/img]

This is a female cantaloupe flower.
[img]https://i207.photobucket.com/albums/bb9/BP991/garden%202010/008-3.jpg[/img]


The way this is all supposed to work is that the plants will first get male flowers to attract bees. Later female flowers will develop in hopes bees are frequenting your plants so they get pollinated.

As for hand pollinating, I have done this with these melons. I read up on it and decided the "Caveman" technique as I saw it referred to worked the best. Pick a male flower from the stem, plucck the petals off and then mash the middle into a female flowers' middle. I was 100% doing this. Hope this all helps you.

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RogueRose
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Thanks! That is a big help - I didn't think that the little marble part of the female didn't develop unless it got fertilized. But good to know that the marble/fruit gets there soon.

I went out and checked today (it's godawful hot today) and there's some females I think coming in. They look more like the cantaloupe female though than they do the sugar baby.

I think the melons I have are these:
https://parkseed.com/watermelon-everglade-hybrid/p/05494-PK-P1/

https://parkseed.com/watermelon-new-queen-hybrid/p/05488-PK-P1/

And the honeydew:
https://parkseed.com/honeydew-melon-snow-mass/p/05071-PK-P1/

I am not getting any definite marbles/fruit though, but the flowers do look completely different.

I did see some bumbles going from the flowers to flowers - but they didn't linger too long on them.

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rainbowgardener
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Bees can't accomplish anything unless there are male and female flowers. The female flowers tend to grow close to the ground, beneath the leaves. The male ones grow on longer stems above the leaves, as in your pictures.

Just be patient, it will all sort itself out.
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BP
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I'm pretty sure you don't have any females yet. Females will show up after males by a week to three.

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RogueRose
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Ok....I am pretty sure I am getting girly flowers now. They don't look like ones posted - but there is a marble there and they're fuzzy...but not like the ones I've seen. Like these: https://farm5.static.flickr.com/4080/4853553345_8a3c69024b.jpg

I am trying to pollinate them but I can't get to all of them. I do see bumbles and other bees on them. I noticed that they don't necessarily stay on the flower too long. I also noticed that the female flowers don't seem to stay open for too long. I notice that some are bigger than others too so I'm going to make some guesses that they're bigger because they're growing? This whole melon thing is new to me. I wish the bees would stay on them longer....can they adequately get pollinated if they flit from flower to flower without staying too long on them? Also I'm watering them once every other day...I'm guessing I should probably water them more often.

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rainbowgardener
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Flitting from flower to flower is what bees do. All they need to do is brush against the appropriate flower parts in their flitting process and the pollinating is done. Trust Nature! :) This pollinating process has been working on its own for millenia, long before humans were involved.

Every other day may be fine, if you water deeply. That's what I've been doing all thru this triple digit heat and no rain. They get a little bit wilty by evening of the off day, but perk right back up when they are watered.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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applestar
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Watering -- they re not in containers right? Every other day or even less often is OK. Key is to water deeply each time so the water soaks into the soil to the depth that will hold the moisture. And mulch.

Right now with entire areas dried to crisp and with water restrictions, it's all I can do to sustain my garden by watering on the proscribed every other watering allowed day though. I need to go to bed early -- tomorrow is watering day.

Bumblebees may not be the only bees visiting. I was up before sunrise watering the other day, and while I was resting in between on the patio, I saw bumblebees still sleeping under the milkweed leaves, but there were smaller bees that were completely covered in fur that I couldn't ID already working among the milkweed flowers. They were gone by the time sun rose above the horizon and the bumblebees were starting to stir. I was utterly amused by the way the bumblebees seemed to be having trouble finding any flowers with nectar in them. :lol:

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RogueRose
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Thanks! I know flitting is what they do, but I've spent more than one occasion watching and photographing bees and I've seen them stay on other types of flowers longer than I've seen them stay on these. I just worry that they're not staying on long enough to get the appropriate amount of pollen on them to get on the female parts. But the watermelon patch (which is in-ground, not raised beds or pots) is very popular place in the garden these days with the bugs. I've seen little bees, flies, butterflies, wasps, bumbles.

I'm guessing with the density of the leaves and vines, that they hold water pretty well. I have been watering heavily. I had originally watering with the "shower" setting, but I just use the hose with my thumb over it as it seems to water it heavier than any setting on the hose.

I'm so glad it has cooled down!

Thanks for the help!

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RogueRose
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I was out in the garden today and I found TWO melons!!! WEEEEE! This is something I never thought I could grow! I hope I get more. :P

I keep going out and looking at the melons. I am so excited about these. Should I put them "up" on anything? Is it ok if they're on the grass/soil?

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PunkRotten
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Same here 1st time growing melons and doing good so far. I was worried I wouldn't get a lot of melons but turns out the 4 vines I planted near this trellis got really crowded and I took out 2 vines/plants. But the 2 that remain have gotten really big. I got all excited when I started seeing female flowers and I started to hand pollinate worried that the bees wouldn't be able to pollinate them all. But it turns out I got a decent amount of bees . This year I got a lot more bee activity due to planting more flowers. I check my melon vines daily and look at the tiny melons and see if they are getting bigger.

Out of the 2 vines I can tell I will get a good amount of melons. I also happen to have 2 other melon plants pop up as volunteers. I am thinking from store bought fruit that was composted and they found there way into the yard. Both are growing really good and 1 has melons forming on it already. I have been thinking what kind of melons they could be either cantaloupe or canary melon. I bought that canary melon and didn't really like it, not that sweet so I hope it is not one of them.

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RogueRose
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Yeah I've tried the canary melon and I wasn't impressed either.

I definitely went overboard with planting too - I will plant less next year.

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