Mini melons for small spaces
If you don’t have a lot of space for gardening but you still have a hankering to grow melons, don’t despair. There are some varieties of bush-type mini melons that do well in confined spaces, including containers. Among them are:
- Golden Jenny: a variation of the heirloom “Jenny Lind.” This is a productive variety that matures in about 75 days. It’s a prolific plant, but it doesn’t take up a lot of space.
- Minnesota Midget: ready to harvest in about 70 days. The plants are small and compact—3 or 4 feet across. The orange-fleshed melons are about 4 inches across, with sweet orange flesh. Perfect for container growing.
- Sleeping Beauty: ready to harvest in about 85 days, this plant has a compact vine and fruits with netted skin and deep ribbing. These melons will top out at about a half pound; perfect for breakfast.
- Green Machine: a prolific plant that produces 2-pound melons in about 85 days. The netted-skinned fruits fall from the vine when they’re ripe, so be sure to have a support system to catch them. Lightweight slings keep melons off the ground and away from excess moisture, and can keep the fruit from breaking when it ripens.
- Honey Bun: a bush variety that produces 5-inch melons in about 75 days. The honey-flavored fruit has netted skin like a cantaloupe. Each vine will produce three or four melons.
The growing conditions for these mini melons is much the same as for regular-size melons, except that you can plant them closer together. Another approach to controlling the sprawl of the vines is to train them to a trellis. You can set a container against a flat trellis, or make an arching trellis over your container. Use cut panty hose or mesh produce bags as slings to support the melons as they grow; just use some garden tape to secure the vine to your trellis.
They’re not big fans of shade, so plant them where they can really soak in the rays. Since a sprawling melon vine laden with fruit may be awkward to move, you should pick a spot for your container that will meet the plant’s light requirements—at least six to eight hours a day (12 is better).
Have you grown melon plants in containers? Please tell us about your successes and challenges growing melon plants in containers.