Winter melon revival

The new leaves at the top of the vine, contrasted against one of the old, brown leaves in the right foreground.

I’ve been very anxiously hovering around the winter melon plant. After harvesting the first monster baby, the plant seemed to be exhausted. It stopped growing new leaves, the vine didn’t get any longer, and the leaves that were still on the plant were first dusted with powdery mildew, then became the meal of hairy caterpillars.

All in all, I expected the poor vine to simply give up. However, I refused to give it signals that I was giving up on it. I first gave it a good dose of high-nitrogen fertilizers to prompt it to start growing more leaves, then resorted to a dose of seaweed solution, then fish emulsion. I was going to dig further into my arsenal of fertilizers but, finally, saw new leaves starting to grow.

The first set showed up at the top of the vine – a new offshoot vine – that the caterpillars sampled a little. The second set of leaves began near the base of the plant – two nodes are sporting tiny budding leaves – so I expect the vine is going to branch out in the near future.

The budding leaves near the base of the winter melon vine.

Now that I know that the vine is going to keep growing, I can decide on a course of action for the trellis. I haven’t completely dismantled the first, insufficiently-built trellis, nor have I completed the second, bigger and hopefully strong-enough trellis that is currently looming above the first.

Well, the second trellis is only half built. Even though it’s an A-frame, that alone will not suit the winter melon’s needs. I think this plant needs more horizontal growing space, so I’ll probably set up another A-frame trellis nearby and join them at the tops. I hope that will be just what the plant needs to thrive. It will be such a pleasure to see the vine spread out and fruit profusely (not just in my dreams), and see those fruits dangling from the extended trellis.

Yes, I can see that happening, so as Captain Jean Luc Picard always says, make it so.

For the record, here is our first fruit, affectionately known as the Little Monster:

The harvested winter melon looking more like a watermelon...

…all 2.83 kg of it! I find the shape rather unusual for a winter melon, but it was a First Fruit, and those are usually test runs for the plants. Now that I can anticipate a definite future for the winter melon plant, I wonder whether the following fruits will be more round or elongated?

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