Not really holding out much hope, I sowed two ‘Minnesota Midget’ melon seeds into pots in late April. Having started them off indoors – in my hot press until they germinated – they went into a grow bag in my unheated plastic greenhouse about a month later, where they’ve spent the intervening period scrambling up string and some netting. Melons are said not to appreciate having their roots disturbed, so if you start them off in pots, it’s recommended that you use peat/newspaper/easily biodegradable ones. For what it’s worth, I used regular plastic ones and got away with it…
I spaced them about two feet apart, and once they started flowering, left the greenhouse door a little ajar during the day, so the bees could get in and help with pollination. Melons are part of the same family as cucumbers and pumpkins; French gardeners usually keep them well apart to prevent cross pollination, but I’ve read that this isn’t necessary.
Minnesota Midget is an heirloom variety introduced in 1948. Bred by the University of Minnesota,
it’s particularly suited to short growing seasons, cooler nights and limited space (which probably explains why they’re doing so well in the Irish summer). They grow to 5-7 inches in diameter, promising a sweet flesh that you can eat right up to the skin. Apparently it’s easy to tell when they’re ripe: they’re highly perfumed and will come away from the vine easily.This variety is resistant to Fusarium wilt, which is the ruination of many a melon crop.
The weather (and gardening) being what it is, I’m loathe to count my chickens, but I’ve got a good 15 at this stage of growth, so hopefully I’ll find out how they taste shortly.