NZ Gardener - Garden Diary 2018 - - Grow Fruit Trees -

Grow­ing melons out­doors is fraught with dif­fi­culty in many parts of New Zealand. If they take too long to set fruit, they may not fully ripen be­fore the warm weather runs out. Melons need a re­li­ably hot sum­mer to ger­mi­nate, flower, set fruit, fat­ten and ripen. Like pumpkins, if they aren’t reach­ing ma­tu­rity by now, they might start to soften and rot in the cooler weather to come. That’s be­cause the fruit ends up sitting on damp, dewy soil for most of the day. To speed up ripen­ing, lift the fruit up off the soil – use a small brick or an up­turned ter­ra­cotta pot – to keep it warmer and drier, or slip a piece of black poly­thene un­der it. Don’t judge ripeness by size, as ten­nis ball-sized rock­mel­ons can be just as sweet and juicy as rugby ball-sized wa­ter­mel­ons. When the vine starts to shrivel back, tap the fruit gen­tly – when ripe, they'll sound slightly hol­low – and be aware that birds are li­able to peck holes in them if you leave them unat­tended.

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