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Connecticut Garden Journal: Tips for growing and nurturing melons in your garden

Muskmelon on vine with blossom. Aromatic, ribbed muskmelon (Cucumis Melo) also called a cantaloupe, on the vine with yellow blossom and dew drops.
Dusty Pixel photography
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Getty Images / Moment Open
If you notice young melons rotting and falling off when they're small, it may be due to poor pollination. You can aid the pollination process by pollinating the flowers yourself.

There's nothing like the taste of home grown cantaloupes and other melons from your garden. The warm summer weather is perfect for melon growing, but now also is a time when problems can arise. So, let's do a little melon troubleshooting.

Melons like heat, well-drained soil, water and fertility. Ideally, grow on raised beds amended with compost. Once they start vining, add a small handful of an organic granular fertilizer, such as 5-5-5, around the plants to keep growing strong all summer. Run a soaker hose in the melon patch to insure the soil stays consistently moist, especially during our summer droughts. Use a timer so you don't have to remember to turn the water on and off.

Like all cucurbits, melon plants have male and female flowers and need bees to pollinate the flowers to form fruit. If you notice fruits rotting and falling off when they're small, it may be due to poor pollination. You can help by pollinating the flowers yourself. In the morning, go into the melon patch with a cotton swab. Swish the swab in an opened male flower, one with a straight stem behind the flower. Then swish it in an opened female flower, one with a small fruit behind the flower. Voila, you've pollinated the melon flower.

Cucumber beetles can cause damage to young plants and spread disease. Control beetles by placing yellow sticky cards around the melon patch. Squash bugs love to feed on the leaves. Squish the copper colored, squash bug eggs that are laid in groups on the undersides of the leaves. Check the leaves every few days.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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