Rob Smith makes hammocks to support his melons!
I need to keep my lovely fruit out of Winston the dog’s reach!
There may not be as many seeds to sow or things to plant out at this time of year – in fact, it’s nice to be able to potter around the plot and admire your crops and hard work. That said, it doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of jobs to be getting on with this week.
In the greenhouse, there’s the constant challenge of keeping up with harvesting, especially the cucumbers and tomatoes; with ‘Merlin’ and ‘Sugar Plum Raisin’ being incredibly productive already. And it’s not too bad a problem to be swamped with crops, especially as my little dog Winston is forever helping himself to cucumbers!
As my little furry friend seems to help himself to any fruit within range, I’ve made sure my watermelons are firmly out of his reach. The fruit are swelling nicely and starting to pull the plants down the netting. For this reason I’ve created a melon hammock out of a piece of old cotton cloth. Using cotton prevents any moisture staying on the fruit and causing any potential fungal problems, but means it stays breathable at the same time.
To make the hammock I cut the material around 25cm (10in) square and tie the four corners firmly with Twool garden twine. This garden string (from www.twool.co.uk) is made from sheep wool and not only is it sustainable, but it also has some slight elasticity and won’t cut into plants or fruit if it gets too tight, like jute can. When you’re making the hammock, allow enough material for the final size of fruit, then sit your melon on the material and tie all four strings together with some extra to spare. I use around 45cm (1½ft)of Twool on each corner, then connect the hammock to another piece of string tied to the greenhouse support. I also raise the melon up slightly so there’s no downward drag. As the melon develops it’ll put on more weight and begin to pull more; the last thing you want is for the fruit to rip the plant from its supports.
Try to avoid wetting the fruit or hammock and check your fruit every time you water to keep it in tip-top condition. The hammock should ensure you’ve healthy, supported fruit until you come to harvest.
This makeshift hammock will stop the plant being ripped from its supports
GARDENER The globetrotting Winner of The Big Allotment Challenge and a seed guardian for the Heritage Seed Library ROB SMITH
Will a hammock keep Winston from snacking on my melons?