Table of contents:
- Botanical description of the plant
- Melon health benefits
- Features of growing melon
- Melon diseases and pests
- Melon storage methods at home
- The most common varieties
Video: Melon - Secrets Of Cultivation, Storage And Consumption. Sowing, Care In The Open Field And In The Greenhouse, The Best Varieties. Photo
Despite the fact that the melon is a “purebred southerner”, summer residents grow it not only in the south. And all because this culture is extremely tasty and very healthy. And the varieties "for the market" are not always distinguished by high taste, not like the fruits from their own garden or greenhouse. True, the melon has its own "secrets", but they are not particularly difficult. Therefore, if you have not yet grown a melon on your acres, you should definitely try it at least once! And there, who knows, maybe you will like it. In this article, we will look at the features of growing melon, as well as its beneficial properties and storage methods.
- Botanical description of the plant
- Melon health benefits
- Features of growing melon
- Melon diseases and pests
- Melon storage methods at home
- The most common varieties
Botanical description of the plant
Melon (Cucumis melo) is an annual herb from the Pumpkin family, species belonging to the genus Cucumber. Has long creeping stems; not very large, on long petioles, alternately rounded-ovate or palmate-lobed leaves; bisexual and dioecious pale yellow flowers.
The melon is pollinated by insects (the pollen is heavy, sticky, not carried by the wind). Melon fruit is a false berry, has a different shape, color of the skin and pulp. The root system is located mainly in the upper soil layer and occupies a fairly large area.
Melon blooms in June-July. Forms per plant, depending on the variety, up to eight fruits weighing from 0.5 to 20 kg. It ripens in August – September.
Today there is a huge variety of forms and subspecies of melon. Some of them are closer to cucumber in terms of nutritional characteristics, some to zucchini; they are used in cooking as a vegetable. But the most common are still the sweet varieties of melons we are used to, the total number of which is close to 1000.
The homeland of the melon is Asia. It is due to its origin that it is drought-resistant, needs a lot of heat and sun, tolerates saline soils well, but badly - high humidity.
Like most crops, melon varieties are divided by ripening time, so when choosing a variety for your climatic conditions, you should definitely focus on this indicator. But, in addition, there is another characteristic that is important for this crop - the keeping rate of fruits, calculated from the moment of harvesting. It is important for those who want to preserve the melon for longer consumption:
- less than 15 days - low keeping quality;
- up to 30 days - low keeping quality;
- up to 60 days - average;
- up to 90 days - maturing varieties;
- over 90 days - very stable.
Early summer varieties are stored for up to a month. Melons of medium ripening can be kept up to 3 months. But special podzimnye varieties can "lie down" and up to six months.
The aroma and sweetness of the melon is not only a varietal feature, they also depend on the prevailing weather conditions, and the timing of fruit picking, and proper agricultural technology.
Melon health benefits
Mostly the melon is eaten fresh. However, it is tasty both dried and dried, and processed into jam, honey, candied fruits, jam, marinades. Its seeds are dried, made from them "milk" and smoothies, by cold pressing they are processed into butter.
The oil has a light yellow hue and an unobtrusive melon aroma. It has found its application in cooking for homemade baked goods, pancakes and fritters, as a dressing for vitamin vegetable salads and additives in marinades.
Melon fruits have a tonic, diuretic, choleretic, laxative and anti-sclerotic effect. They contain vitamins C, B6, carotene, folic and nicotinic acids, easily assimilated iron salts. They are often used in dietary nutrition for diseases of the kidneys, liver, cardiovascular system, overwork, gout, obesity, hemorrhoids, anemia, and are recommended as an antihelminthic agent.
Melon seeds are used for diseases of the kidneys and liver, for the improvement of intestinal microflora, nervous system, treatment of chronic cough, as a diuretic and laxative, to normalize blood cholesterol levels, fight inflammation, and stimulate milk production in nursing mothers. The seeds are rich in minerals and trace elements, and contain valuable fats and proteins.
Melon seed oil contains a rich spectrum of fatty acids and other substances that have a beneficial effect on the human body. Thanks to its useful composition, it is recommended as a prophylaxis of cardiovascular diseases, improvement of the gastrointestinal tract and liver, to lower cholesterol levels, support the nervous system, as an anti-allergenic and general tonic.
Melon pulp and seeds are also used in cosmetic procedures. A mask of softened pulp not only nourishes well, but also tones the skin of the face, lips, hands. A decoction of seeds gently whitens it.
Features of growing melon
As mentioned, the melon is very sun-loving. Therefore, when choosing a place for this culture, it is necessary to give preference to open areas, southern slopes, places protected from cold winds. Lack of lighting provokes in the plant a decrease in the number of fruit set and a deterioration in their quality.
Moreover, the melon loves warmth. Its seeds begin to germinate when the soil warms up to + 15 ° C, and preferably + 24 ° C. If, after sowing, the soil temperature drops below + 15 ° C, they simply rot, and if they germinate, they are often affected by a black leg. Does not like culture and sharp temperature fluctuations. For this reason, in risky farming zones, it is grown either in greenhouses or with shelter during the transplanting period and at the end of summer.
Melon loves spacious places. In order to form a full-fledged crop, it needs a sufficiently large nutritional area, so it is impossible to thicken the plantings.
Melon soil is preferable to be light, well cultivated, rich in nutrients, with a neutral reaction and good air and water permeability. Therefore, after the predecessors, which can be legumes, cabbage, corn, garlic or onions, winter cereals, the area allotted for cultivation is well dug up, manure is added, and on clay soils - also sand.
Planting melons in open ground using the seedling method
In the south, the melon is sown with seeds in the soil. In a short summer, they are grown through seedlings in warm beds. So that she has time to ripen, the earliest varieties and hybrids are chosen, in which about 75 days pass from the moment of germination to the ripening of the first fruits.
Melon seeds are pre-pickled, soaked in wet gauze, then placed in pots, taking into account that plants can be planted in the ground only after the threat of recurrent frosts at the age of 28-30 days. Since the culture painfully tolerates trauma to the root system, containers with a diameter of 10 cm are taken for sowing, or they are planted in peat hills or bags.
Watering young seedlings is carried out at the root. Make sure that there is no temperature difference and that the plants are well ventilated. Twice during the period of seedling growth, fertilizing is carried out with complex fertilizer - after the appearance of two true leaves and after two weeks. If necessary, the plants are supplemented with light, providing 12-hour daylight hours.
After the soil warms up to + 15 ° C in the open ground and the threat of recurrent frosts has passed, the seedlings hardened for two weeks, having 3-6 true leaves, carefully, without deepening, are planted in open ground according to the scheme 70x70, 140x70, 100x50 cm, depending on the potential of the variety.
In the zone of risky farming, a temporary film shelter is erected above the bed. This allows the seedlings to take root faster and start growing.
Sowing with seeds in open ground
When sowing a melon, immediately on a permanent place, the seeds are buried to a depth of 3 cm, placing 2-3 seeds in a hole, at a distance from each other. The place of sowing, in order to accelerate the emergence of seedlings, is covered with a film. When the plants grow a little, the weak ones are removed, leaving only the well-developed ones.
Melon formation in the open field
Melon needs shaping to get a good harvest. In varietal plants, more female flowers are formed on the lateral shoots of the third order, so they pinch the main whip above the 4th leaf, and then the lateral ones above the 2nd-4th.
After, when it becomes clear which shoots are the strongest, only them are left on the plant, in an amount of no more than 3, the rest is removed.
In hybrid plants, the main crop is laid on the main stem, so they pinch the side shoots above the second leaf. In addition, in the conditions of a short summer, only 2-3 fruits are left per plant at some distance from each other. And in the south - 6-8 fruits.
Special attention in melon agrotechnology should be given to watering. This culture loves a dry, hot climate, and therefore, with excessive soil moisture, it feels unsatisfactory.
For this reason, if the melon is watered regularly before flowering, then after flowering it is very rare, if necessary, it will take the right amount of moisture from the soil itself. At the time of fruit ripening, watering is completely abandoned.
During the development period, the melon is fed three times: two weeks after planting the seedlings in the ground, at the time of the dissolution of the first flowers, and when the fruits are set. For top dressing, exclusively organic fertilizers are used, since it has been noticed that mineral fertilizers significantly affect the size of melon fruits, but at the same time do not allow them to gain sweetness.
At the time of ripening, it is useful to scatter ash around the plants - this is potash fertilizer, and the prevention of fungal diseases, and scaring away pests.
Growing melon in a greenhouse
Melon can also be grown in a greenhouse. This method is good for those places where it simply does not have time to ripen, or for an earlier harvest. In this case, the melon is planted either in two rows, in a checkerboard pattern with an interval of 45 cm, or in one row with an indent between the plants of 100 cm, if the formation of a bush is not planned. Each plant is tied up. To increase the yield, the plants are formed and pollinated by hand.
When pollinating on a dry, cool morning, the male flower is plucked, the petals are removed from it, and the remaining center is touched to the center of the fully opened female flower. The procedure is repeated several times, changing the male flower. Or transfer the pollen with a soft paint brush or cotton swab.
The formation of plants begins with pinching the main stem above the 4th leaf, then pinching the lateral shoots after 2-3 leaves above the ovary. The stepsons are removed. In total, two or three stems are left on the plant, each of which has 1-3 fruits. In large-fruited varieties, melons are placed in a net and hung, or tied under the stalk. Under those of them that lie on the ground, in order to avoid decay, put a board.
Melon diseases and pests
Modern varieties and hybrids of melon are quite resistant to disease. However, in conditions of high humidity in combination with high temperatures, anthracnose, cladosporiosis, powdery mildew, and corner spot can be found on the melon.
Anthracnose, or copperhead, is a fungal disease. It actively develops at high humidity. It begins with manifestations on the leaves in the form of brownish-reddish spots with dark edging, which eventually merge with each other. It appears on the stems as depressed ulcers. In dry weather, the affected areas crack; in high humidity, they rot. With severe damage, the leaves dry out, the plant dies.
Cladosporium, or olive spot, is a fungal disease. It manifests itself during temperature extremes, prolonged rainy periods, fogs, heavy dew - in the form of dark weeping spots of irregular shape, which gradually grow over the entire leaf. In this case, jelly-like droplets can be found on the fruits, in place of which lacerated ulcers appear. Ulceration gradually deepens and becomes covered with a gray-olive bloom.
Powdery mildew is a fungal disease. It is activated already at the beginning of summer with fluctuations in temperature and humidity. It is determined by a whitish bloom on leaf plates, petioles, shoots, and sometimes - and fruits of a melon.
Corner spot is a bacterial disease. It appears at high humidity. It is recognized by small angular weeping spots on the lower surface of the leaf plates, on which milky discharge appears at high humidity. Drying, such discharge forms a white crust. Then the spots turn brown and acquire a yellow edging. After the spots fall out, forming holes in the leaves. Infected fruits are deformed, affected by wet rot.
Of the pests, the most unpleasant are spider mites and melon aphids. But there are other pests: omnivorous gnawing scoop, wireworm, melon fly.
Spider mite. This pest cannot be identified with the naked eye, but it is easy to identify by symptoms: a thin cobweb appears in the axils of the leaves, white dots on the leaves that grow into small specks. With severe damage, the leaves suddenly turn yellow and dry out, the plant dies.
Melon aphid. Small yellowish or greenish sucking insect about 2 mm long. Severely depletes plants, inhibiting their development.
Gnawing scoop. The greatest damage is caused by caterpillars living near the soil surface. Eating the stems from the inside, they lead the plants to death. They are gray in color, body length is about 4 cm.
The wireworm (the larva of the click beetle) is a small shiny worm with a yellow segmental body. It lives in the soil, has three pairs of pectoral legs. Harmful mainly to the root system of the melon. If the roots are severely gnawed, the plant may die.
Melon fly. It has a yellow body about 6 mm long and wings transparent with brown stripes. Lays eggs under the skin of the fruit. The larvae feeding on melon flesh cause damage, causing it to rot. It is possible to determine damage to fruits by a melon fly by their appearance - small bumps are found on their skin.
Melon storage methods at home
Having collected the ripe fruits of a melon, I really want to keep them as long as possible. However, it is no coincidence that melon is sold on market shelves only in season. Its storage causes difficulties and additional costs, and not every variety is able to "lie down".
The easiest way to preserve the melon for the winter is to freeze the sliced flesh. For this it is good to have a freezer with a temperature of -18 ° C. In this case, the melon will quickly freeze, preserving vitamins as much as possible, and can be stored for up to 12 months. It is better to store the blanks in special bags with a fastener or resealable containers so that the melon does not lose moisture and does not absorb foreign odors in small portions.
When choosing a variety for storage, it is better to give preference to fruits with a sweet dense pulp. The best option here would be cantaloupe varieties, but in principle, others will do. Many housewives also freeze unsweetened melon (so as not to throw it away). Such a thawed blank, albeit unsweetened, is perfect for vitamin smoothies - it thickens the drink well, giving it texture.
When freezing, it is not necessary to cut the melon into slices, you can freeze both the usual portioned slices and melon balls. However, you should not try to keep whole fruits or their halves in the freezer, in this version, the freezing of the pulp is uneven, which, when defrosting, significantly affects the quality.
To prepare healthy "milk" from melon seeds, you can also freeze melon seeds. To do this, they must be separated into a separate bag and placed in the freezer.
Many people have a question: is it possible to keep a melon in the refrigerator without freezing? In the cold, the melon gradually becomes stringy and watery. For this reason, even cut, it is undesirable to place it in low temperatures, but it is better to keep it at room temperature. However, you can still hide it in the refrigerator for a short time. To do this, the cut fruit must be placed in a container with a sealed lid - it will remain in this state for two days.
A whole melon can be kept on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator for a little over a week. But longer shelf life under these conditions is undesirable, since ethylene accumulates in the melon pulp at low temperatures.
You can also keep the melon just in the apartment, in a cool shaded place. To do this, it must be completely intact, without damage, and preferably - dead varieties.
To keep the melon in the basement, it is placed away from other vegetables - beets, potatoes, since it strongly absorbs odors, and placed on a soft mat so that the fruits do not touch each other and the walls of the room. You should not place melon next to apples, this neighborhood accelerates its aging, since apples produce ethylene.
Straw, sand, grain, ash, sawdust are used as soft bedding. It is more convenient to place the softening material in the boxes, deepening the melon down into it where the stalk was. The "speck" remaining from the peduncle is covered with a layer of paraffin for better preservation. Melons are inspected every month to discard rotten ones.
The most common varieties
"Dream of Sibarita" is an early variety for a short summer (50-55 days). Fruits are small (weighing about 400 g), elongated, with a striped green color. The pulp is white, crispy, with a honey taste and aroma. Does not get sick, bears fruit profusely, until frost.
"Titovka" refers to ultra-early ripening (55-70 days). Fruits with a thin skin, yellow, orange or yellow-orange. The pulp is white, dense with a fragrant aroma. Stores well. Suitable for the south and middle lane.
"Cinderella" is an early maturing variety (60 days), suitable for short summer conditions. Fruits are round, yellow, covered with a convex mesh. The pulp is white, juicy, has a rich aroma. The variety is resistant to temperature extremes, diseases and pests, but does not tolerate storage and transportation.
" Kolkhoz Woman" is mid-season (79-95 days). Fruits are spherical, orange-yellow, covered with a net. The pulp is sweet, aromatic, light yellow. Lies well. Suitable for the south and middle lane.
"Pineapple" - medium early (70-80 days). Fruits are round-elongated, have a rich orange color, closer to brown. The pulp is light pink, juicy with a sugary taste and a light pineapple aroma. Suitable for the south and middle lane.