Ellen in her allotment

Melons, Melons, Melons!

Ellen updates us on her harvest, with a focus on growing melons despite the heatwave!

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I really enjoy the month of August because it’s the month when all the harvests are filling the kitchen at the same time as cut flowers in the vases and the autumn vegetables swelling up in the sun. Talking of sun, we’ve had a lot of it and very little rain so I am particularly thankful for having water butts, making it much easier to water my allotment. You can easily attach water butts to your Rhino Greenhouse for rainwater harvesting as well. Inside the greenhouse I have tomatoes ripening including the trusted ‘Gardeners Delight’ and the darker coloured ‘Indigo Rose’, plus an abundance of Chilli’s I forgot to label apart from ‘Hot Banana’ so I guess my taste buds are in for a shock soon.

Outside on the plot there’s a lot going on and the harvests are coming so fast I can barely keep up. The celery got sunburnt but soon picked up again after a good water. I have epic spring onions this year and the cosmic coloured carrots are doing well in my sandy soil. I even have soy beans growing which are podding up nicely - don’t believe everything you read if you think you can’t grow some hotter climate fruit and vegetables in the UK. Firstly a greenhouse can help but also there are many varieties of fruit and vegetable that will tolerate a warm UK summer, just like my melons!

I first experimented with growing melons some years ago and managed one small cantaloupe but the flavour and satisfaction was insurmountable so I have grown them ever since. They are surprisingly easy to grow, especially undercover. However, this year I took a chance and tried planting them outside. My seeds were sown in late April in the greenhouse, hardened off and planted out in early June. As I have a no dig allotment the soil had already been mulched and it was plenty warm enough to plant out. I did have a cover over them until it broke in the wind and they could have done with some shade in the hot sun - at this point in July I very much wished I had planted them in the Rhino Greenhouse so I could pull the blinds down for shading.

As the small fruits appeared, I removed all flowers and fruits/leaves apart from the best four (as per RHS advice) and pinched out the growing tips. This meant all of the energy went into the best fruits for growing and ripening which is just about now. If you are growing undercover, make sure pollinators have access to the pretty and delicate yellow flowers and make sure you water at the roots, avoiding the foliage to limit any disease. Before long I will be harvesting my very own cantaloupe melons and I cannot tell you how incredibly tasty they are - you’ll have to grow them and find out for yourself!

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