All cucurbits thrive in summer! The cucurbit family includes watermelon, pumpkin, cucumber, zucchini, squash, marrow and rockmelon. Their seeds are rather large, so a great starter plant for all beginners in the garden, young and old. More gardening ideas can be found at http://gardeninginfo-online.com.
You will need temperatures above 15C for germination for these plants to be successful, they also need lots of sun and room to crawl. You also need to prepare the soil for the arrival of these seeds with lots of compost, manure and fertiliser. As these melons produce a lot of fruit they need plenty of nutrients in advance to keep them going.
In sandy soils prepare a little well around each seed so the water collects at the roots. In heavier clay do the opposite and build a little mound to assist drainage. Ensure you keep them watered or the large leaves of these plants will wilt and dry off. Mulching is also of great importance for these plants. Avoid overhead watering if possible to avoid mildew, and aim to water them in the morning before the heat hits.
Pumpkins can take as long as 3-4 months to harvest. Start harvesting when the vine begins to dry off.
Always leave about 10 cm of stalk on it and store it in a dry place with good air circulation.
- Butternut – delicious fruit. Better in warmer climate
- Turk’s Turban – with white, orange and green strips
- Japanese – has soft skin and compact fruit
Rockmelon seeds are best planted 120cm apart, and best to pollinate them by hand. They are ready to harvest in around 12 weeks.
- French Charentais – orange flesh. It is great for cooler climates
- Mini Melon Minnesota – dwarf melon, it is wilt resistant
- Nutmeg – sweet, greenish flesh for cooler climates
Cucumber is a warm season vine. Can be trained to run up trellises. Prefer slightly acidic soil that is well drained.
Will need ample eater and fertilising till the cucumbers are formed. Can be harvested within 7 weeks.
There are a number of varietiesof watermelons. For smaller gardens Sugar Baby is perfect as they are very compact.
Plants seeds 4cm deep and 3m apart for full size melons, 1.5m apart for compact melons. They can be harvested in about 11 weeks.
- Moon & Stars – delicious, sweet, red flesh
- Golden Midget – Compact fruit for cooler climates
Zucchinis can be harvested within 5 weeks. They are easy to grow and eat.
Don’t leave them on the vine too long as they get very tough.
- Black Beauty – bushy plant with heavy fruit set
- Gold Finger – as its name describes it has a golden coloured fruit
- Gold Rush – a fruit for the cooler climates