Easy start melons & pumpkins

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Easy start melons & pumpkins

Postby hillfarm_girl » Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:43 am

Although most big seeds like melons and pumpkins are usually planted straight out into their mounds, I find it easier to start them in the shadehouse or just outside the potting shed.
Just wrap wet strips of newspaper round the bottom of a glass or bottle to make the pots. When they are dryish fill with potting mix and plant your seed.
You will use less water over a tray of pots than over a garden bed, and have the added advantage of being able to add foliar fertilser as needed.
It's economical as you can recyle old newspapers into pots which can be planted straight into their mounds - so there is no transplant shock. Of course the pots will rot down and liberate the roots.
I used this method to get early very crops. Long before it was warm enough to plant the seeds out into the ground I started them off in the nursery. When they had grown sufficiently and the weather was right I planted out and the plants just powered away.
The advantage is that all the plants are strong and of the same size and fruiting commences earlier. Less water is used and it cuts the work of weeding the mounds to a minimum.
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Re: Easy start melons & pumpkins

Postby Jaxter » Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:33 am

Sounds like a great idea. How thick do you make pots (how many layers of newspaper)?

Do the (damp) pots fall apart at all while they're in the shadehouse growing the seedlings? Do you have to put them in some sort of supportive container?
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Re: Easy start melons & pumpkins

Postby hillfarm_girl » Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:02 pm

Yes, this method works really well. I used it to plant an acre of early pumpkins and then rockmelons for the Rocklea Markets agent. I got high prices each time - so was very satisfied.

The newspaper wet wrap doesn't have to be really thick. I used the 3 pages opened out into a flat and tore off strips of that thickness. I put the first wet wrap around the bottle then the second under the bottle and then topped it off around again.
When I started to run short of paper some pots only got a single thickness which still worked but until the plant roots up to hold it together it could have easily burst. So thickness is up to you and paper supply.
I put them into nursery trays, poly boxes and anything I could find when I started running out of containers. The containers don't need to be waterproof but they make it handy for eventually moving them to the site.
When I take them out of their containers the roots are often poking out of the newspaper pots, so they hold together well. I like my pots to be nice and wet when I plant as any dryness they encounter -until you have chance to water the mounds - won't set them back.
I have used this method commercially and love it. I set up my paddock in hills some time prior. They always get invaded with Spring broad leaf weeds and look a mess, so I spray with Roundup to burn everything off and once they've died off and decimated the paddock looks great. The reason I don't make hills up at the last mimute is that they are too fluffy. If the hill has time to settle and consolidated a bit I've found - over the years - that it proved to be the plants seemed to thrive better.

On the farm before this (this one has heaps of water) much of the paddocks were dry farming. I figured some tall beer bottles collected from the local gentry would be perfect. Filled up and stuck into the ground necked down and on a angle kept plants growing for about a week, sometimes more. Only the plant got the water - not weeds. I just took the tractor out with a water tank on the carryall weekly. Very peaceful job and on a farm, one has to do whatever one can to earn and pay the bills.
Blessings, Sheila
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