Food Growing Urban

Epic Melon Fail

It all started so well in April. And for a while I was convinced that my cunning plan to grow melons in my study was going to work.

23rd May 2023
June 25th 2023

When the flowers showed, and indoors in the absence of insects, I thought I would have a go at pollinating the plant myself.

I tried to identify male from female flowers, once I’d found what I thought was a male flower, I stripped its petals away to expose its pistil, and jammed it into the female one. Fascinating that some of the flowers are bisexual!

What I guessed was a male flower with its petals removed.

This was a really hopeless shot in the dark. It was really hard to tell which gender was which, and obviously there was no indication that what I’d done was correct. No visible orgasm for instance! Right there I gained yet more respect for the work of insects in pollination.

Insemination unlikely.
1st July 2023

Then at the start of July I started to notice a mould on the leaves. I tried spraying the plant with a very mild solution of bicarbonate of soda – which is supposed to help. However, jammed up against the window it was hard to get at all the leaves. The problem is apparently lack of airflow but there could be other reasons why the mould had spread.

It was quite sad seeing this mould spread so I decided that, given that the roof garden area is very warm, and because central London is a concrete heat island, there might be a chance that the plant would survive outdoors. I reasoned I would be able to give it a proper spray outside also, and that might help.

I very carefully took it down and transported it outside. I had done the same thing last summer with a tomato plant I started in my study (until it became too unruly), and that had worked very well, so I reasoned I stood a good chance of making this work.

At first it looked pretty good. And I was delighted to see some hover flies working the melon’s flowers. Somehow, then, it might stand a chance of being pollinated and therefore bearing fruit.

15th July 2023

However, recently it started to look in very poor health.

Some of these leaves look particularly unwell. Others I guess less so. But it seems highly unlikely these three plants, sown so lovingly and with so much hope for their future, are going to bear fruit. Sick veg for real.