Winter melons set adrift

The first winter melon fruit turning yellow and starting to shrivel up

It was too good to be true. All the cucurbitaceae plants I’ve grown have gone through what I like to call Braxton Hicks contractions – they keep practising before the plants successfully set fruit and get to harvest.

So, I couldn’t believe my luck when the very first female winter melon flower appeared to set fruit and start growing bigger over the last week. I was also thrilled when I saw a second female flower just up the same vine.

Well, those potential winter melons have drifted over the horizon and are now just a wishful memory. I don’t know if it’s because that vine had branched out too much and couldn’t sustain the fruits, or if it just needed time to practice fruiting, but it was with a sinking heart that I saw the tip of the first fruit start to yellow yesterday, and start shriveling today as it turned more yellow.

You know how some people advise keeping just the main stem of a tomato plant to allow the plant to focus strength into the fruits on that single stem? Well, maybe I need to apply this philosophy with the winter melons, too. The vine has multiple branches, not all of which are strong. I think I am going to take a page from Mother Weed’s book and do some hard pruning this weekend – all unhealthy-looking stems on the winter melon vine are going to be history. Maybe then will the plant fulfill my hopes of growing a giant winter melon…

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