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My first batch of rock and/or honeydew melons are growing quite rapidly so I figured it was time to try out the trellis idea. Here's a start I made. For support I used 4 bamboo poles cut to about 1.6m each. The struts are river reeds from an outdoor garden screen I had lying around. I'll add more struts as the vines grow. Only time will tell whether the trellis will be strong enough. Fingers crossed!

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Oh no!    It is so disappointing putting time and effort into growing fruit only for it to be taken away at the last moment.     I can't remember who, but someone once said to me  always take for granted that you must expect to lose  at least some of  your crop to pests and diseases when you grow organically or without chemicals.

Very sad Joseph. I'm checking my four melons daily and they seem ok so far.

You would have to wonder how the insects manage to infest something with such a tough skin. That's why I like Tamarillos to grow and eat, never any problems like this. Had a delicious Pepino the other day too - the only fruit on four plants!

Eat these you flies! ;)

I made these little pillow cases from an old business shirt last night. Anyhow, looking at the pitiful stage of the plants (that's downy mildew damage btw), these fruits will be their 'last hurrah'. Never mind, am growing more plants!

@Steven, thanks. Yeah, the first rockmelon to be lost to fruit/cucumber fly had to be the biggest by far. Such is life ... it also had the thinnest netting. The others looked like they are encased in bony armour.

@Lissa, I didn't notice anything wrong with that melon until I collected it yesterday and saw a small hole with brown sap oozing out. It must have only been stung in the past week I reckon. The damage wasn't severe but the smell and taste was bad.

Somebody from the last garden meet was saying pepino is a magnet for fruit flies. 

...and yet I've never had a fruit fly problem with any of my (meagre) pepino crop. Maybe if they were fruiting in more abundance. Wish they were, very nice.

BTW love the fact that you can sew :D Wish I'd been born into this generation instead of the generation of men who called it all "womens work".

You're right, fruit flies are snobs, they only go after quantity and quality. My fig has 4 tiny fruit on it and they haven't been bothered at all.

I can't sew, I can straight stitch lol. Dad used to run a sewing machine business so I learnt a bit here and there.

I harvested the final two rockmelons yesterday so thought it'd be fitting to wrap up my les melons sur un treillis experiment.

The outcome was satisfactory. I harvested about 9 rockmelons and 5 honeydews. All apart from one maggot-ridden rocky were smaller than commercial size, the honeydews in particular underwhelmingly so. The biggest one in the photo below was store bought.

The quality wasn't too bad, every melon was sweet to some extent. Some were awesomely sweet. The honeydews were a little crunchy but that could be because I took them off the vine prematurely.

  • The trellis held up well over the 4 months, it's starting to come apart now but nothing a bit of extra twine wouldn't solve
  • Rockmelons produce more than honeydews and are less susceptible to fruit/cucumber fly attacks - I lost one rocky compared to 5-6 honeydews
  • Rockmelons are also more consistent in shape, size and ripening. Honeydews were prone to producing malformed fruits (inadequate pollination may be the cause) which didn't properly ripen - thereby possibly increasing its attraction to fruit flies.
  • The massive aphid infestation did not cause any permanent damage ie. mosaic virus
  • While I didn't encounter much powdery mildew, downy mildew has been a major problem from mid-Dec. It spreads rapidly and will kill the plants in no time if untreated. Spraying with neem or milk based fungicides will only delay the disease, the plants will eventually succumb despite treatments such as seaweed foliar sprays and extra nutrients. That's ok, grow more. :)
  • Cover the fruit with bags. Sooner or later they will be hijacked by Bactrocera. Lately even very immature melons have been stung. Melons take a long time to ripen so it's a real shame to lose them in the last couple of weeks, especially as each vine is not a prolific producer.

Will I grow them again? Most certainly! Now that I've seen and tasted fresh melons, the ones in the store don't look appealing anymore.

Thank you to everyone who's contributed and thanks for reading!

Thank you for posting :) it's been a good conversation close to the hearts of quite a few people.

I'm familiar with the powdery mildew but not the downy mildew. Found this great pic that show's them both on the one grape leaf:

Pseudoperonospora cubensis is a species of water mould known for causing downy mildew on cucurbits such as cantaloupe, cucumber, pumpkin, squash and watermelon. This water mould is an important pathogen of all these crops, especially in areas with high humidity and rainfall.

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects a wide range of plants. Powdery mildew diseases are caused by many different species of fungi in the order Erysiphales. It is one of the easier diseases to spot, as its symptoms are quite distinctive. Infected plants display white powdery spots on the leaves and stems. The lower leaves are the most affected, but the mildew can appear on any above-ground part of the plant.

As the disease progresses, the spots get larger and denser as large numbers of asexual spores are formed, and the mildew may spread up and down the length of the plant. Powdery mildew grows well in environments with high humidity and moderate temperatures.[1] In an agricultural setting, the pathogen can be controlled using chemical methods, genetic resistance, and careful farming methods. It is important to be aware of powdery mildew and its management as the resulting disease can significantly reduce crop yields.

Below - Powdery mildew on curcubit.

The milk spray didn't work for me at all on the Powdery mildew on the cucumbers.

yay! :)

Thank-you Joseph for your post and  an interesting discussion.    I found trellising to be quite efficient in terms of used ground space.    I harvested more melons than we could eat and  gave quite a few away so the ones lost to disease and pests didn't really matter.    But I can't say I can recall having so bad ones before ?

One thing I learnt  in my trellis experiment was that the cube shape wasn't ideal.   The centre died off and promoted disease and fungal attack.    Also don't go away for a week and have your watering system fail is another tip. 

Next year I'm going to set some wire lines across a timber fence and grow the vines on that.    I'm going to find another variety given the losses to disease.   

Hi Steven ~  I've tried the wire lines across a timber fence, and also those grid wire trellis across the timber fence too, I found the grid were much much easier to climb for the plants (including tomatoes) than just horizontal wires ~ 

You're welcome. I wish I had a surplus to give away! Unfortunately I mixed the seeds up and many of the honeydews were duds.

I have some newer plants growing up a fence at the moment but my ground soil isn't great so they're not as healthy. There are a few fruits but these are even smaller. If I try hard enough, I may even be able to produce rockmelons the size of lychees.

Next season I'll try a 3 sided trellis.

Thanks for sharing your experience Joseph ~~

I've read that by leaving only 1 or 2 fruits on each vines would increase the size of the fruits ~ I've visited a strawberry farm in Tassie (or was it NZ?), and they sold these really huge strawberries, and the farmer told me they only allow one strawberry to grow on each plant for those special berries ~


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