How Did the Melons, Cucumbers, and Squash Do?
Continuing on with the theme of how things did in the garden this year, lets take a look at the various vining crops we grew. I’m sure that most of you already have a pretty good idea of my opinion of a few of these varieties! As before, the caveat is that these results are just anecdotes, not scientific.
Honey Bun Cantaloupe – This cantaloupe was selected because of its advertised “compact vine” compared to the normal cantaloupe that have huge vines. We ended up with 4 or 5 plants in the 4′ x 4′ area, and they easily stayed within their boundaries. The melons were 3-4 pounds when ripe, and the flavor was good and sweet, although not as sweet as the best of the best summer cantaloupe. So far we have had 2 melons we harvested, 2 melons someone else harvested, 1 melon that was eaten by a critter, and there are at least 3 melons on the vine right now that I know of. 8 cantaloupe from a 4′ x 4′ area is not too shabby! The plants also thrived in our hot summer, with no signs of stress at all and very little insect or disease pressure. One critique I have is that there was a very fine line between still being green/unripe and and completely ripe to over-ripe and falling off the vine. That’s what I would expect from an heirloom melon rather than a newer hybrid. I would definitely recommend this variety if you want to try growing melons but don’t have much space.
Sugar Baby Bush Watermelon – Again, this watermelon was selected for its potential to be grown in a small space. It definitely lived up to that billing! I had a hard time getting the seeds to germinate, which was a little weird. (Although I think 1 or 2 seedlings may have accidentally gotten pulled as weeds.) We ended up with only 1 plant in the 4′ x 4′ area, and it didn’t even come close to filling the space. We could have easily had 2 or 3 more plants in that space. The variety was purported to produce two 12 pound melons on each vine, and we only got one melon that was probably about 10 pounds. We harvested it a little bit late, so it was a touch over-ripe. It was very sweet and juicy, but a little bit seedy. (We just aren’t used to seeded melons anymore!) I would only recommend this variety if you have a small garden and you really want to try growing a watermelon for fun (or if you have kids that would get a kick out of it)!
Soleil Yellow Zucchini – Like most zucchini, this was very productive for most of the summer. It was still producing by the end of the summer, even while infested with Squash Vine Borers. There were also some aphids and squash bugs running around, but it didn’t phase these plants. It had some trouble with not pollinating early in the summer, but that was a common theme in all the squash and cucumbers, and I had an above-average number of questions about poor pollination on squash this year, so it must have been the weather! (Right…I love blaming everything on the Kansas weather.)
Honey Bear Acorn Squash – This was our second year attempting to grow this variety of acorn squash, and while it definitely did better than last year (no squash bugs, spider mites, or aphids attacked it to speak of), I wouldn’t say it was impressive. This variety features small, single-serving squash, which made it even more unproductive. We had 3 plants that survived to maturity, and while they all flowered pretty much continuously, we only got 4 squash total before the plants started collapsing under pressure of borers in early August. The plants were also huge (for a supposedly compact vine) and sprawled all over into the aisles. So huge plant, less productive than the melon, and with small squash? Not a winner in my book. I haven’t eaten one yet, but it would have to be the best squash I’ve ever eaten to change my opinion.
Suhyo Cross Cucumber – This was the cucumber in the Asian garden. We planted it later than average because we were waiting for all the spring veggies to finish up. After it finally quite raining in June, it took off and grew very quickly. We had our first cucumbers to harvest in early July, and then they didn’t quit until the plants keeled over in early August. We had a huge harvest of cucumbers for about 3 weeks, and then the plant pretty much quit producing. The cucumbers are long and can be crooked when grown on the ground (not trellised). Good tasting, but nothing spectacular. This plant was huge, so not a great option in a small space unless you are going to use a trellis.
Diva Cucumber – We used this smaller slicing cucumber in both the SmartPot and growing in a tomato cage in the Family of 4 Garden. I’d grown this one before, 6-7 years ago, during an internship and didn’t like it then. I don’t know why I decided to grow this one instead of one I knew I liked. Maybe I thought it deserved another chance? This plant was also a huge plant, but it wasn’t productive enough to justify its existence. It took forever to start setting cucumbers and never produced very many. The cucumbers weren’t as tasty as Suhyo Cross either. Not recommended. Ever.
Did you try any vine crops this year? Did any of your squash outlast the vine borers?