melon patch 07

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Rowdy, Jan 4, 2007.

  1. Rowdy

    Rowdy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    676
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Location:
    Jones Co, Texas
    Well, I've about talked myself into putting in a melon patch this year. I have the sandy soil that melons love, and I love melons, so why not? Of course, I'd like to try my hand at having a few to sell.

    I have discovered that my cantaloupes and Israeli melons need rows spaced four to five feet apart, and spacing in the rows between 18" and 24". That means my main patch will contain five to seven 100 ft rows, which gives me between 250 and 400 plants. Assuming 60% or more of them survive and produce two viable fruits each I'll have between 300 and 480 melons to eat or sell. Of course I could have a bumper crop of 800 melons, or a total loss due to drought, poor farming, or whatever. I want to do this in three plantings, about two weeks apart, so that I can have a little time to sell each batch of melons.

    I have three wild hives of bees on my place, so hopefully that will boost pollination, and all my numbers here will turn out to be low.

    But first I have to get the melon patch cleared out.
    [​IMG]


    I have to move/spread out this pile with my little toy 18 HP tractor. Will be doing that tomorrow.
    [​IMG]


    Here is another area that will be put into melons, but probably watermelons
    [​IMG]

    The rest of my garden will be going into this area. I am going to be contrary and trellis my tomatoes on the _south_ side of the garden, so that part of the garden will be in shade in the afternoon. Our summers are so hot, that I think shading a tiny part of the garden will be less harmful than letting the garden have what the garden books call "full sun."

    [​IMG]


    Now to the figures (just for the melon patch.)
    Seeds: $12
    Fertilizer @ 120lbs per acre: $30
    Irrigation pipe and soaker hose: $250
    But, spread that cost over three years: $85
    Water @ 2000 gallons a month $45
    (just to keep things from burning up)
    etc
    (everything goes wrong fund) $100
    Total: $272
    That does not include the cost of diesel to cultivate, but since my tractor only uses 5 gallons of diesel per day of hard, hard work, I'll eat the cost for the sake of fun. Of course this total does not include the cost of marketing the melons either. The figures look like I might break even to even making a few hundred dollars profit. The money is not that important too me at this point, but if it does turn into a money maker, I may expand a little next year.

    Since the rows have to be so wide, I think I may experiment with sowing some black eyed peas between the rows, just to see how it works. If it works then, the peas will put some N into the soil, and help crowd out weeds to a very some extent, if it does not work, well, I like eating peas too.

    Of course, I'm also on the verge of getting pigs again as well, so I guess if I can't sell the melons I'll have happy pigs!
     
  2. FrankTheTank

    FrankTheTank Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    366
    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    That sure is sandy soil! Good luck with the adventure and keep us updated. You might want to find some manure to spread out. Seems like i've read somewhere that commercial growers put the seeds in a pile of poop to get them off to a good start.
     

  3. Rowdy

    Rowdy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    676
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Location:
    Jones Co, Texas
    Actually, I have two guys down the road that are making piles for me to come pick up. One has horses, the other has cows. I'm sure that the horse manure is going to give me every weed in the world to worry about, but the extra fertlitiy will be nice just the same. I hoping to get the manure spread by the middle of this month so it'll have three months to age a bit. If not, then it may have to just wait for later so I'll not burn up the plants.
     
  4. Silvercreek Farmer

    Silvercreek Farmer Living the dream. Supporter

    Messages:
    2,198
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Location:
    Morganton, NC
    Cool, after all your great pics I am really interested in your place, keep up the good work! Not to doubt you, but do you think 2000 gallons of water a month will do the trick for 1400 square feet? I know it is mighty hot and dry there and it looks like that sand could soak up quite a bit, though I've never tried to farm in TX, just a thought, maybe another mellon grower in the area could tell you what they use?
     
  5. Old Vet

    Old Vet In Remembrance

    Messages:
    11,515
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Melions are the way to go for making money. A friend of mine had 5 acres of mellons that make a fine crop the next year he bought 40 acres and planted them in mellons. The third year he bought 880 acres and started farming but the mellomns were the start of something that he would do for a living.

    The Black Diamond melon is most suted to your area.It is a large melon and that is what most people want. The Desert King is another mellon that is good and since it is yellow meated you will find that it is a good seller.The hales giant cantiloup is what I have planted and it is good.

    Peas planted in the midle is a great idea. They will mature quicler and keep down grass. I have found that Water mellons like shade to fruit in so grass is not that much of a problem.
     
  6. Rowdy

    Rowdy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    676
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Location:
    Jones Co, Texas
    No, I really don't think 2000 gallons a month will be enough, but about all I am willing to pay for at this time. If things are looking good, then I might spend more money on water, but right now I am hoping that we'll actually get some rain this year.

    Thanks for all the good comments! I have a couple more photos to post of todays work, but I don't have time at the moment.
     
  7. Rowdy

    Rowdy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    676
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Location:
    Jones Co, Texas
    For those that wanted to see some more photos, here is my messy flickr page. it would probably be easier to find your way around my using the sets of photos on the right hand side of the page.

    Rowdy's Flickr
     
  8. susieM

    susieM Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,117
    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Location:
    France
    Remember Ruth Stout, and mulch, mulch, mulch!
     
  9. Bruce in NE

    Bruce in NE Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    329
    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2002
    I usually plant about 100 canteloupe seedlings a year (Dr. Jaeger--the best tasting melon I've ever had). I fill one freezer up with melons to last til the next harvest season. Usually can get about 4-5 melons per plant. They do like composted manure and minerals.
     
  10. Rowdy

    Rowdy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    676
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Location:
    Jones Co, Texas
    Thanks for the info! I used two melons per plant in my figure to keep from being disappointed if things do not go well this first year. Last year (or I guess I should say "year before last" now that its 2007!) my tiny patch of about 15 plants did about the same, averaging 4 melons per plant. Some had a few more, some had a few less.
     
  11. Rowdy

    Rowdy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    676
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Location:
    Jones Co, Texas
    Well, haven't had much time lately, but did get a little more done the other day:

    When I started:
    [​IMG]


    After a little while playing with the landscape rake: (that 'bump' in front of the back tire is a tree or a log, not sure yet:
    (I'm not sure why the photo is showing up this way, it looks normal on flickr and my computer)
    [​IMG]


    And after a couple more hours:
    (that is the same log/tree from the above photo, just four feet more of it exposed:)
    [​IMG]


    Closer view:
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    I still have to use the tractor to rake up a few branches, bits of wood, then I'll switch to the boxblade to finish leveling everything out. Then next month (when I get more money) I'll use the Middlebuster to scratch a ditch out for my irrigation pipe.

    I've considered putting in some annual rye grass until march, just to green things up a bit, and keep some of my sand from blowing away.

    Anyway, that is the update for now. For other photos of my place My flickr page
     
  12. Silvercreek Farmer

    Silvercreek Farmer Living the dream. Supporter

    Messages:
    2,198
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Location:
    Morganton, NC
    Looks great Rowdy! I second the cover crop idea, can you get one one of the legumes to grow this time of year? If so your melons may appreciate the additional nitrogen.