Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Melons in Bloom

My cantaloupe and french melons have erupted in blooms. The pretty yellow flowers are attracting tons of beneficial insects to the garden. I was in the melon patch yesterday hand-pollinating the female flowers and the bumblebees and honeybees were buzzing all around me. It was quite a sight. I like to hand-pollinate my melons, squashes and citrus trees to ensure pollination. Pictured above is a male flower on an Athena cantaloupe vine.

As you can see, it's pretty easy to distinguish between it and the female flower (above), which has a green center as opposed to a yellow one.

The female flower also has a noticeable ovary the size of a jellybean at the base.

The ovary will enlarge and develop into the melon if proper pollination has occurred. The one above is currently the size of a large lemon. As you can see, a fungus of some sort has developed on the leaves. I've sprayed the plants twice already with a copper fungicide and am cutting off the affected leaves. So far, this seems to be keeping the disease in check.

Yesterday, I also spotted the first cucumber beetles of the summer. Last year, my melon, zucchini and cucumber vines all died prematurely from bacterial wilt, which is an untreatable disease spread by the beetles. The beetles also steal the pollen and chew up the leaves. Tonight, after the bees have retired for the evening, I will spray all of my vines with pyrethrin. Hopefully, this will control their numbers this year.


  1. Oh the smell and taste of a properly ripe, home grown melon is out of this world! I have melon envy!

  2. Mine are about the same size right now. I keep hand pollinating too when I notice a female blossom. They are so easy to miss though as the males are so prolific.

  3. Ours are just blooming now. We'll have to try pollinating them. If it means more melons then it's got to be worth it. Thanks for the tutorial.

  4. Seems to be the year of spraying for lots of us, I hope you get some great melons!

  5. I have a question, I am new to urban vegetable growing. I have gray beetle type bugs with a shield type back all over my melon vines. I also have lighten colored spots, almost gray on my leaves.
    Are these bugs killing my melon chances?

    I don't have any fruit even growing on my vinesyet!

    Please help, last year I had tons of crop without any issues at all.

    Thanks, Betsy