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Annie in Austin
Welcome! As "Annie in Austin" I blog about gardening in Austin, TX with occasional looks back at our former gardens in Illinois. My husband Philo & I also make videos - some use garden images as background for my original songs, some capture Austin events & sometimes we share videos of birds in our garden. Come talk about gardens, movies, music, genealogy and Austin at the Transplantable Rose and listen to my original songs on YouTube. For an overview read Three Gardens, Twenty Years. Unless noted, these words and photos are my copyrighted work.
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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Mystery Melon Melo-Drama

At a garden blogger get-together toward the end of March, Laura of Some Like It Hot brought a few melon seedlings to share, unnamed second generation starts of seeds saved from melons she grew in 2009. Lancashire Rose & I each took one .... did anyone else try to grow them? Thanks again for sharing, Laura!

Our vegetable patch is too small for a melon to sprawl so after repotting it into a recycled cardboard container I stuffed the box into a corner of the compost bin. That seedling grew fast, making enormous leaves and tendrils. Annieinaustin, melon leaves
By mid-June it had produced a few melon-like objects, but instead of growing - they just did this Annieinaustin, unpollinated melonI'm not sure if it failed because the melon flower hadn't been pollinated or if insects made holes that set off rot.
A few weeks later the chance of getting fruit looked pretty goodAnnieianaustin, melons growing

One melon was looking fabulous for quite awhile - although it didn't look like any melon I knew. But while it was still green and hard, something attacked the bottom, the stem was chewed, and the weight of the melon had pulled against the wire, damaging the stem even more. I took the melon inside and weighed it, wondering what kind it would have been. At six pounds it was much larger than the store-bought Tuscan melon - but the interior hadn't matured - looks like Melon #1 was a fail. Annieinaustin, mystery melon with tuscan

A couple of small melons were still on the plant. Annieinaustin, mystery melon

After Katina tweeted that critters had chopped her crop I ran out to find Melon fail #2Annieinaustin, little melon chomped

We took the evidence over to the patio table and cut it to see if we could guess what kind it was - but there was no real color and no scent.Annieinaustin, cut small melon
Maybe the remaining melon would grow if I netted it and supported the stem with an S hookAnnieinaustin, mesh over melon

During July the netted plant kept growing and by the 26th some reticulation was showing - was it a cantaloupe like the one grown by RockRose? Annieinaustin, melon reticulating

Our Melon #3 almost delivered a sweet ending to our tale, but last weekend I found it on the ground, mesh & stem chewed through and skin chomped. The poor fruit bled orange, but not the burnt orange of a University of Texas fan - just the pale orange of a melon taken too soon.Annieinaustin, mystery melon critter bitten
It wasn't fully developed but it sure looked like it would have been a cantaloupe. Annieinaustin, inside wrecked melon

Apparently in my garden protective mesh can't be plastic - it would have to be steel! Back in Illinois in the 1990's famed gardener Trudi Temple told us that in order to get any fruits or vegetables for the table she had to build a wire-roofed-and-sided-enclosure with more mesh buried under the ground to prevent animals from digging from underneath.

Sometimes I daydream about having a small version of that enclosure here.


  1. I can fully understand the lengths one must go to get fruit. This is my first year in several to get a good harvest of plums and peaches. I have killed 58 squirrels this year. I have eaten so many squirrels and given even more away. Their tails have gone to fly tying friends. With legs barely 3" long, they must go miles looking for fruit to eat, as there shouldn't be that many squirrels in my garden.

  2. Oh, Annie, so sorry about your melon maladies. I'm growing some called Hearts of Gold this year, but I see just one on the vine. One! Last year I harvested over a dozen small melons. We'll see what happens...

  3. What a disappointment. You have tried so hard to have some good ole melon and the critters have defeated you. You must have some healthy critters in your garden. I have seen Trudi's enclosure. Now I see why she went to such extremes.

  4. Well, you certainly went to great lengths than I would have. That's dedication!-- Randy

  5. This post has reminded me that I need to work on patience... I would have given up when I "harvested" the green one, and figured that it was some kind of hybrid melon/squash cross that wasn't going to taste like anything good. I would have totally missed the orange!

    Any other potential baby melons, Annie, or is the vine just finished now? Either way, an interesting experiment.

  6. How disappointing. I'm thinking that last one was almost there and that's why it got attacked. Lessons learned I guess and next year you'll be more prepared??

  7. That looks like a Crane melon.

    Kathryn from Sacramento CA

  8. That's real determination, Bob at Draco! We are inside city limits with 4 other houses within 50 feet of my patio so your method would land me inside a metal enclosure ;-]

    Just getting one melon in 11 years would have been a triumph, May Dreams Carol- good luck with your Hearts of Gold...cool name.

    I remember reading you'd were also lucky enough to have visited Trudi's garden, Lisa at Greenbow- I think Trudi dealt with squirrels, deer, groundhogs & those 13-lined ground squirrels, too.

    Once the melon got as big as a grapefruit I allowed myself to hope, Randy, thus setting myself up for the melodrama!

    It was just an experiment Blackswamp Kim -then RockRose posted her breakfast melon and I was covetous! Too hot for pollination now - no idea if the vine will just die or what. This was a free plant with little work involved... I water the compost pile anyway!

    Taking it earlier might not have helped, Jean - after all, the small one was also demolished and the first huge melon never developed after it left the vine.

    Thank you all for the sympathy as well as the comments,


  9. Posts like this are why I continue to "grow" all my fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. ;-) Better luck next time, Annie.

  10. Annie, I've only grown cantaloupes once and that was years ago, but I can still remember how absolutely fabulous they were. I not only feel your disappointment, I share it! I planted some Heart of Gold seeds given to me by Carol of May Dreams Gardens but they're showing no signs of wanting to bear fruit.

  11. I haven't had any luck with my melons here either, but we have a very fat and happy groundhog in our backyard.

  12. Heartbreaking, but so well documented. That would have been enough to make me give up on melons forever.

  13. I admire your determination, experimenting, and especially, your good attitude about this. Experiments in the garden are the most rewarding, even when they fail.

  14. Sorry about the melons Annie! That last one must have been especially frustrating.

    We don't have enough sun for melons, but I've grown them in a previous garden with success. The melons were small, and not very plentiful, but worth the effort. They were delicious.

    My mom grows melons successfully every year, but then, her garden is fully fenced with chicken wire, plus she has an electric fence too. The electric fence especially seems to do the trick and keeps the critters out of the garden. It's probably not a practical option for most home gardeners, but it's essential for food gardening in her neck of the woods with all the critters they share their land with.

  15. That's quite a melodramatic saga, Annie. Too bad about the sad ending. You certainly get points for trying!
    Did Laura or Lancashire Rose end up with any fruits from their labor?
    We're harvesting delicious tomatoes now. Each time I pick them and place them in a bowl I think of you and all that you go through to produce a handful of lovely homegrown fruits.
    I'd be very happy to share ours with you if I could. :)


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