Anyone grown watermelon here in the UK

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kitla
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Anyone grown watermelon here in the UK

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My son has asked if I could grow watermelon this year. First I said no as they're too tropical, then I thought - why not have a try. Apparently some varieties are better for our cooler climate than others. Has anyone has success with them or know anything about which variety to grow?
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lancashire lass
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Re: Anyone grown watermelon here in the UK

Post by lancashire lass »

I haven't tried watermelon but The Real Seeds Catalogue have a couple of cultivars that are suited for early maturing / cooler climate
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kitla
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Re: Anyone grown watermelon here in the UK

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that's really useful thanks. I've ordered some seed from that link.
That's an interesting site, what they say about building up stocks of seed from strains that grow well locally. I always take seeds from annual flowers, but with veg its a bit half hearted & we dont always store them properly & end up buying new packets thinking they'll grow better. We need to rethink that & learn to store seed properly. I just bought particular types of cucumber & tomato seeds from unwins & was horrified that there were only 4 & 6 seeds in the packs!
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Re: Anyone grown watermelon here in the UK

Post by Freeranger »

The RS people are great.
I have seen melons grown in hot frames - so in a cold frame but with rotting compost & straw at the bottom to generate a bit of heat (google?). I think a greenhouse would work as well, or a little cloche that you could cobble together from scraps, though this is a guess.
Victorians used to use hot beds and heated greenhouses to grow quite a lot of tropical fruits such as pineapples.
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lancashire lass
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Re: Anyone grown watermelon here in the UK

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kitla wrote:that's really useful thanks. I've ordered some seed from that link.


)t' some of my fave winter squashes (for good flavour, as well as ease to grow) were from that catalogue (Anna Swartz Hubbard and acron type Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato are the best) However, I have never been successful trying to grow Galeuse d'Eysines which Real Seeds say is one of the easiest to grow >coc< So win some, lose some.

That's an interesting site, what they say about building up stocks of seed from strains that grow well locally. I always take seeds from annual flowers, but with veg its a bit half hearted & we dont always store them properly & end up buying new packets thinking they'll grow better. We need to rethink that & learn to store seed properly. I just bought particular types of cucumber & tomato seeds from unwins & was horrified that there were only 4 & 6 seeds in the packs!


The cucumber and tomato seeds - were they open pollinated or hybrid (usually named with F1 at the end to indicate the first cross pollinated seed between 2 particular strains)? Open pollinated generally are much cheaper and you normally get lots of seed per pack whereas hybrid seed is "select pollinated" and more labour intensive to produce hence the cost.

Or another reason may be a new variety in the catalogue - it can take years to develop a new variety and in order to maintain monopoly for future seed sales, the first seed can be more expensive than usual (after all, nothing stopping you from saving the seed)

The easiest seed to collect and store are peas and beans - being self fertile, the risk of accidental hybrids are rarer (unlike winter squashes which readily cross pollinate with courgette/marrow cultivars) And those plants that do well (that is, germinate and thrive, produce flowers and fruit) are the ones that are suited to your particular soil and climate so always save the seed from these rather than the ones that seem to be struggling one way or another. For peas and beans, leave the pods on the plant right through to late summer so the seed is fully mature and even drying in the pod (usually they "rattle" when the pod is shaken to indicate they are ready) then pop the seeds out, spread out on a tray to dry out before bagging up and storing somewhere cool and dry.
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kitla
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Re: Anyone grown watermelon here in the UK

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I manage to save & regrow sweet pea seeds every year but our beans often go moldy, maybe we dont leave them on the plant long enough. Will try harder this year! do you store yours in paper bags LL?
I like the idea of the warm cold frame, maybe one day I'll build one, but the greenhouse will have to do for now.
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lancashire lass
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Re: Anyone grown watermelon here in the UK

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kitla wrote:I manage to save & regrow sweet pea seeds every year but our beans often go moldy, maybe we dont leave them on the plant long enough. Will try harder this year! do you store yours in paper bags LL?


Seeds that go mouldy have possibly not been dried thoroughly - leaving the pods on the plant as long as possible until they are dry helps but the weather doesn't always play fair so harvesting them quickly and getting the seeds out as soon as possible should reduce the risk. To be fair when I have spread the seeds out on trays, I sometimes forget all about them rather than try and bag them up straight away so they are thoroughly dried by the time I remember :oops: . Once I'm satisfied, the seeds go into plastic zip lock bags - this preserves the seed better than paper bags (a bit like the sealed foil packs you find in seed packets) Seeds "age" more quickly in the presence of oxygen (called oxidation) so sealing the bags (preferably in a vacuum but for the home seed saver, flatten the plastic against the seeds before sealing) reduces the amount of oxygen so seeds stay viable for longer - maybe 2 or 3 years. If you only have the odd seed head which you intend to sow the following year, paper bags or envelopes are perfectly fine )t'
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Re: Anyone grown watermelon here in the UK

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Kitty I grew melons for the last couple of years and had some fruit off them. Just seeds I bought from the Aldi or Lidl so nothing special, some variant on gala I think. I grew them in my greenhouse and the plants grow large and climb, and I pollinated the flowers with a chicken feather (!). The fruits were small, probably because I didn't pay the plants enough attention, and to be honest I didn't even realise there were fruits! They weren't particularly ripe so the chickens had them, but I'm sure if I'd followed instructions more they would have been all right. The first year I had hardly anything (1 fruit hidden away at the back of the plant) and the next year had a few as that was the year I pollinated with the chicken feather. If you've got space in your greenhouse they're worth a try
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