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How to grow winter melons

Are you curious about how to grow winter melons? Last year I discovered how easy it is to grow them, I harvested more than 50 winter melons from one plant, weighing at least 6.2kg on average, or 310kg. While I experiencedd this success in the tropics, winter melon fares well in subtropical and temperate countries when grown during the hot summer months.

Winter melons, also known as wax gourds or ash gourds, come in several varieties, some have smooth dark skin, some are light green and are hairy; they can grow as heavy as 30kg. Once harvested, they can store for 6 months or more in a cool, dry place.

Read on to find out more about how you can grow them at home.

How to grow winter melon from seed

I grew my plant from seed, opting for a F1 Hybrid that produced fruits with a white powdery coating and fine fuzzy hair. The seed germinated within a week in my hot, tropical climate. I planted it in seed raising mix and it grew into a healthy seedling. When it was more established, I transplanted it into a raised bed, by this point, snails and slugs were not too keen on it. Overall, I found it to be of low maintenance and I did not experience any pest attacks.

If you have a site that enjoys at least 6 hours of sun, room for vines to sprawl on the ground or a strong, large trellis that can withstand heavy fruit, you should most certainly consider growing this. I did not experience any challenges apart from powdery mildew on some of its leaves. With good air circulation, this will not be an issue.

Winter melons require well-draining, moist soil, with regular fertilisation for lots of fruit. It will take around 3 months for the plant to begin fruiting. Winter melons are fast growing and can be harvested as soon as a few weeks after the onset of fruit. They can store for at least 3 months in a cool, dry place away from sunlight, but once sliced open, should be consumed as soon as possible.

How to grow winter melons

Due to its thick and tough, prickly skin, birds and other wildlife in my garden like civets and squirrels largely left it alone. I noticed signs of wildlife damage on the fruit’s exterior but it did not deeply penetrate the skin. 

Besides the obvious benefits of juicy winter melons and personal achievement, it is a wonderful gift to share with friends, neighbours as well as relatives, and it will be a joy for neighbours and passers-by to look at.

My social activity with my neighbours increased significantly after growing winter melons. A neighbour once shared that word about my fruits had spread as far as the next estate. His acquaintances living there excitedly shared that they had seen my fruits dangling from my Juniper trees when taking a stroll in the area.

On occasion I would see people taking photographs and admiring my fruits. Some would initiate conversation when they see me working in the garden, one even stopped by to ask me for seeds so he could grow it in the garden of the childcare centre where he works.

Growing winter melons proved to be a fruitful endeavour and I will definitely grow it again soon. I hope you will consider giving this a try for yourself!

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