ORGANIC GARDEN PATCH
Last updated 6/28/2007 at Noon
Now it’s official; summer has arrived. Expect this to be an above average warm summer. What do they say, “Just another lousy day in paradise, huh?” I cannot believe the devastating weather the rest of the country has had to endure, and is still enduring. I really am sad to see that; the farmers and gardeners are all struggling for just survival. We are going to get one last planting in on melons and watermelons. Choose some varieties of melons that will make this year full of flavor treats. Start off with cantaloupes. The Ambrosia is the most aromatic and flavorful. Then look through seed catalogs or seed packets that talk about sweetness. The other varieties of melons are also lovely. The Honey dew comes as green-meated and orange-meated. They are delicately sweet. Cantaloupes (muskmelons) also come with green meat and are ultra sweet. Crenshaw is extremely flavorful. All of these varieties are about a 75-day crop. That means what is planted now will produce about the middle of September to October. If you have already planted some melons, this will give you a great succession and enhance that barbeque on Labor Day. All the Cantaloupe varieties are ripe when they turn more golden, and separate (slip) from their stems easily. Do not let them get over ripe; watch them closely. The other varieties are ready when they begin to turn golden and have a great aroma. Plant either four feet apart or in rows three feet apart with the rows five feet apart. Fertilize the melons when you plant them, and then side-dress them when they first flower. Water them well till the fruit forms large and then hold back on the water, and only water them when the plant looks like it will wilt in the heat of the day. This will allow for a sweeter melon. The melons should be under a leaf cover and somewhat protected from the hot summer sun. Watermelons! Not a lot needs to be said about the wonderful experience of eating a watermelon on a hot summer day. This also will add to your pleasure on those summer family and friends outdoor parties. Nothing says summer like watermelons. They take a lot of space in the garden unless you grow small varieties. I am going to repeat a little of the info, that I had in the last article, plus some. The ice box size (5-pounders) come with red meat, yellow meat (extremely sweet) and orange color insides. Seedless melons are great, but require a little more expertise, since they require a pollinator. Most standard watermelon varieties do great here since our summers are relatively toasty. They also will be ready by the middle of September if planted now, and create a great first crop or a great succession. To pick a watermelon perfectly ripe, watch as it develops and you will see a small tendril (curly, skinny thing) right where the stem of the melon meets the branch of the plant it’s growing on. This tendril will dry up when the melon is ripe, it happens slowly at first, and then all of a sudden it dead. Thump the melon and you will feel the bounce and learn the sound of ripeness. Test yourself and you can become an expert melon picker. Fertilize and water these the same as you do the muskmelon. The water melon likes a little shade on the fruit in the heat of summer. This can be accomplished by letting some weeds grow, or throw a small amount of straw over the fruit to protect it from the sun.
Hope you have good luck growing all kinds of melons. They really do taste better fresh, and it always is a delight to enjoy the product of your own doing. If for any reason you do not do well, study the mistakes that occurred, so they can be corrected for next year. This is how I learned to farm and garden. I came from Los Angeles, and only saw weeds popping through concrete for the first 20 years of my sorted existence. So, perseverance is the answer to a “Green Thumb,” and one of the most powerful lessons from the garden. Always remember to align yourself with Nature, and don’t compete with Her.
If your crops are not good, strong and productive, it just means your soil needs more time and enhancement to get there. The more you work it, the stronger it will get, and the less problems the pests and other obstacles become. All these crops will respond to a foliar feeding of liquid humic acids and soluble kelp at the end of the day. Quit spraying when the fruit sets.
Keep planting corn. It also is the ultimate end of summer crop. Every two weeks a few plants will keep it happening. Don’t be afraid to give the corn good organic fertilizer, as it really is aheavy feeder. Ask the farm suppliers about B.T. (Baccillus Therigensis) an organic worm control. Read the instructions. Plant melons either from seed or see if the garden stores have plants that are good varieties. Corn should be planted from seed as it really does better that way. Have fun in the sun!