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Golden Gopher

Golden Gopher Muskmelon OG

(85 days) Open-pollinated. This is one gopher I won’t be without. Each year it reminds me just how good a melon can be. Though, as usual, they didn’t look too imposing from the outside, the two I harvested on Sept. 3 blew me away with their flavor. The 6" heavily ribbed fruits averaging 2½ lb feature deep orange flesh of superb eating quality. Gopher’s Honeydew parentage helps account for its high sugar content as well as its resistance to F. Developed by the University of Minnesota in the 1930s and introduced by Farmer Seed & Nursery Co. in 1939, saved from probable extinction by Glenn Drowns, discovered and multiplied by our trialer Jeanne Griffin, and popularized by Jack Kertesz at his MOFGA gardens. Called “Pop Open” melons because they sometimes split open when ripe. Very susceptible to PM. Supplies limited, order early!
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981A: 1/16oz for $1.90  
sold out, substitute 980.
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Additional Information

Muskmelons

Cucumis melo 1 gram packet, about 20 seeds, sows 7 hills. Muskmelons are usually heavily netted and deeply ribbed with larger seed cavities than cantaloupes. Percy opines that they are easier and require less heat to grow well than cantaloupes.

Diseases:

  • F: Fusarium
  • PM: Powdery Mildew
  • PRSV: Papaya Ring Spot Virus
  • WMV: Watermelon Mosaic Virus
  • ZYMV: Zucchini Yellows Mosaic Virus

Melons

Days to maturity are from date of transplanting. Melon seed lives more than 10 years with proper storage. 18th- and 19th-century growers preferred to sow 4- to 10-year-old melon seed, believing that such seeds produced plants that spread less and fruits with a finer perfume.

Most Years You Can Vine-Ripen Melons In Maine
Melons are a tender crop with high nitrogen requirements. They love heat, cannot stand frost, and may be damaged by night temperatures below 40°. Though they require some extra fussing, the results are sure worthwhile.

  • Note days to maturity and select varieties that will ripen in your climate.
  • Dove, Alvaro, Diplomat, Halona, Blacktail Mountain, Petite Yellow, Peace and Gold Flower are surest bets.
  • Start indoors in early May (later if the spring is slow to warm) in plastic or peat pots, 2 or 3 seeds to a pot. Melons resent transplanting but will take if their roots are not disturbed.
  • Prepare hills in advance with liberal amounts of well-rotted manure or compost. Don’t place melons next to vigorous crawling plants like cucumbers, gourds or winter squash.
  • A cold start can permanently stunt growth, so wait for a warm spell after all danger of frost to transplant, usually between May 20th and June 20th. Water heavily and, if soil is dry, place a temporary hay mulch around plants until a soaking rain comes.
  • Melons are much more sensitive than squashes so use low tunnels with floating row covers that do not abrade plants. If you have sandy soil, check daily and irrigate when needed.
  • Use blue, black or clear plastic mulch between plants.
  • Use a foliar feeding program to speed ripening.
  • Remove row covers before buds open. Replace them when you don’t desire any more fruit to set.
  • To reduce rot loss, rotate ripening melons occasionally. To reduce mouse damage, place ripening melons on bricks.
  • Inspect your patch daily at ripening time. Check fruits for aroma and color and pull gently on those that appear to be ripe. Most muskmelons are ripe when the pressure causes them to slip from the vine. Harvest Galia, Charentais, Honeydews before full slip.
  • Enjoy an incomparable taste treat!

Pest: Striped Cucumber Beetle
Cultural controls: use tolerant or resistant varieties, rotate crops, till under crop debris soon after harvest, use floating row covers until flowers appear, use plastic mulch, perimeter trap cropping (Black Zucchini and Blue Hubbard make particularly good trap crops), use yellow sticky strips, hand-pick early morning when beetles are very sluggish.
Materials: Surround, Pyrethrum (PyGanic), Mycotrol.
Disease: Powdery Mildew
Controls: Use small plots to slow spread, plant indeterminate (viney) varieties, control weed competition.
Materials: sulfur and whole milk, mineral or other oils in combination with potassium bicarbonate, Actinovate.
Disease: Bacterial Wilt
Cultural control: Striped Cucumber Beetle is vector—control it; choose resistant varieties.

Fascinated by heritage melons? Amy Goldman’s Melons for the Passionate Grower (ISBN 1-57965-213-1), a mouth-watering journey through her 100 favorite varieties, is an indispensable identification and cultural aid.