If you’re like me, you’re a gardener who procrastinates. This year has not been a year of procrastination though since everyone is staying home. Gardening is on everyone’s mind and we now have more time to do it. My garden this year looks the best it has looked in years because I’m spending more time in it and growing some things that I haven’t grown in years. I’ve been trying to give guidelines on what to plant at certain times of the year and now we’re moving into the warm season vegetable territory. Some warm season vegetables are sensitive to cooler soils and prefer the soil temperature to be around 60. This article will highlight three that can be planted the last week of April all the way through the end of June. These three are large vining crops and be sure to give them plenty of space if the cultivar requires it!
Muskmelons can also be known as cantaloupes and even honeydews fall in this category. They can be spaced 24” in rows and around 4’ in between rows. Cultivar suggestions for Tennessee include ‘Athena’, ‘Ambrosia’, and ‘Amy’. The easiest way to know when the melon is ripe is that it pulls easily from the vine. If it doesn’t just pop from the vine, then the fruit is not ripe yet! Honeydews do not slip from the vine though so be sure to harvest when the vine starts losing vigor and growth.
WatermelonsWatermelons are probably the most popular vining crop in Tennessee because of the memories they bring of summer days. They are spaced 2-3’ in the row and spaced 4-6’ in-between rows. Be sure to watch irrigation because too much water when they are ripening will cause the fruit to split and it will ruin the fruit. Some cultivars that have grown well in Tennessee include ‘Sugar Baby’, ‘Crimson Sweet’, and ‘Mini Love’.
Pumpkins are the one that will require the most room, but be sure to read the label because some are more of a bush type instead of a vining type. They can be spaced anywhere from 2’-5’ in the row and 5-8’ between the rows because they generally take up so much room. Be sure to plant them a little later if you’re looking for Halloween decorations, in Wilson County they can be planted up until the middle of June. Most pumpkins grow well but here are a few suggested cultivars for Tennessee: ‘Cargo’, ‘Baby Bear’, and ‘Lil’ Pump-kee-mon’.
As always, if you have any questions regarding any horticulture facet, feel free to contact Lucas Holman, Horticulture UT-TSU Extension Agent, Wilson County at 615-444-9584 or Lholman1@utk.edu.