By: Teo Spengler
Home-grown melons are one of summer’s sweetest treats. But melon favorites like cantaloupes, watermelons and honeydews prefer toasty temperatures and a long growing season. Can you grow melons in zone 6? You can’t just grow any melons in cooler climates, but there are melons for zone 6 available. Read on for information on growing zone 6 melons as well as zone 6 varieties.
Can you grow melons in zone 6? Generally, you’ll have better luck with watermelons and other melon types if you garden in a warmer area with a lengthy growing season. These fruits need lots of sun. But there are zone 6 melons that may work in some areas.
If you aren’t sure of your hardiness zone, you should probably find out before starting your garden. U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones are determined by the lowest winter temperatures.
Zone 6 is a region where temperatures can dip to negative 9 degrees Fahrenheit (-22 degrees C.). Included in this zone are regions across the country, including the area near Jersey City, NJ, Saint Louis, MO and Spokane WA.
If you want to grow melons for zone 6, you will do much better if you start the seeds indoors. You cannot place the seeds or seedlings in the garden until all chance of frost is passed, including the occasional night frost. That may happen as late as mid-May in some zone 6 areas.
Plant the seeds at a depth of three times their diameter. Place the pots on a sunny window sill to germinate. After that, you can continue to keep them on the window sill waiting for warmer weather or, on sunny days, you can set them outside in a sunny location if you are sure to bring them in after the heat of the day.
Once all chance of frost is past, you can transplant the seedlings carefully into well-draining, organically rich soil. To raise the soil temperature, you can spread biodegradable plastic “mulch” around the young seedlings.
You’ll have to search your garden store for zone 6 melon varieties. A few that are reputed to do well in zone 6 include ‘Black Diamond’ and ‘Sugarbaby’ watermelon cultivars.
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Melons can be termed “minis” if their fruits are small—usually less than 2 pounds each. These mini melons produce vines that are as rowdy as standard-sized cultivars, taking up lots of garden space, but the fruit they produce is single-serving size.
“What makes these types of miniature melons a good fit for urban gardeners is the fact that their lightweight fruit doesn’t need to be supported when the plants are grown vertically,” says Niki Jabbour, author of The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener (Storey Publishing, 2011). “Gardeners with trellises, arbors, fences, tepees or other garden structures can easily grow these mini melons upward instead of outward.”
Vertical vines fill a far smaller garden footprint than vines left to ramble, and the developing fruits are kept up off the ground and away from pests and rot.
The second way mini melons are classified is by their growth habit. Bush-type melons are excellent choices for gardeners with limited space. These plants are far smaller in stature, taking up only a few square feet apiece, but in most cases, the fruit is standard size. The compact vines aren’t as prolific as full-sized vines, but production is still good. In most cases, each vine will produce three or more fruits.
Now let’s stop talking. Here are 10 mini melons you can start growing right away!