Introduction to growing muskmelon hydroponically
Muskmelon is a representative of the cucumber (Cucurbitaceous) family and it is also known as Kharbuja. Muskmelon is a species of melon that has been developed into several cultivated varieties. These contain smooth-skinned varieties such as honeydew, Crenshaw, and casaba, and different netted cultivars. With the proper irrigation system, lighting, and maintenance of the nutrient solution levels, it helped to maximize its production in a short period.
A step by step guide to growing muskmelon hydroponically
The nutrient uptake after pollination was severely depressed in soil culture while not in a hydroponics system. When the nutrient supply after pollination was controlled in hydroponics like as in soil culture, a part of defects in growth was improved; depression of excessive development in upper plant leaves, uniform appearance of a net on the fruit surface and improvement of the low content of the soluble solids in the fruit juice. Disease infection was remarkably reduced by controlling nutrient uptake. Then, the regulation of growth by controlling nutrient supply with fruit development in the same way as in traditional soil culture seems to be essential to yield a high-quality one in hydroponics.
Conditions for growing muskmelon hydroponically
Muskmelon water culture method difficulty is comparatively large, and the influence factor is a lot, and suitable nutrient solution prescription is one of the key points of water planting Muskmelon, suitable nutrient solution prescription can promote Muskmelon Growth and improve output. The
Muskmelons being grown on the scale do need to be provided with different vegetative formulations as they move through the different growth stages. Muskmelon plants grown in hydroponics and perlite with reduced potassium nitrate affected the mineral nutrient content in the fruits. In general, the concentration of calcium, magnesium, and iron was decreased compared to control plants in the hydroponics system and perlite culture. Then, this is due to the minimal supply of potassium nitrate in the perlite substrate. Sodium concentration in fruits showed clear antagonistic interaction with potassium availability in the culture solution. In case of a limited supply of potassium nitrate, sodium concentration increase with a decrease of required potassium nitrate concentration in perlite culture. Compared to control plants in the hydroponics system, about 80 and 60% increased sodium were measured in fruits from plants cultured in perlite with 50% of required potassium and with standard nutrient solution, respectively. Potassium restriction in the culture solution showed a significant increase in sodium and magnesium concentrations of plants. The increased concentration of magnesium and sodium reported being compensated for the reduction of potassium.
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Muskmelons take up high levels of potassium once they have set fruit and this can rapidly deplete potassium levels, particularly in a recirculating system. The nutrient recirculating in the system should be regularly analyzed for all macro elements (N, P, K, Ca, and Mg) to determine if the fruiting formulation is providing sufficient K for the current level of fruit development. Otherwise, growers prefer to do complete or partial replacements of the recirculating nutrient solution during this stage to ensure these stay in balance. The nutrient solution can become deficient in certain elements relatively quickly; even with a good fruiting formulation. The mineral uptake of individual crops changes from grower to grower, with different cultivars and with different levels of fruit set so monitoring of nutrient levels is vital for crop performance.
Muskmelon fruit plants do have a large leaf area and under good growing conditions will take up a significant volume of water each day, which can increase the EC rapidly. Under these major conditions, it’s best not to let the EC climb, but keep it stable with regular water top-ups throughout the day (an automated water top-up system can be required).
Muskmelons are sensitive to high EC and keeping this stable, particularly under warm growing conditions is essential for both water (transpiration) and nutrient uptake.
Germination for growing Muskmelon hydroponically
To grow Muskmelon from seed, you will be looking to put that seed into some type of growing media to help it sprout into a seedling.
Start seeds in soil or hydroponic grow media, so usually use things like rock wool to germinate Muskmelon seeds. The seeds are expensive, so it makes sense to avoid transplanting unless it’s necessary. If you plant a seed in the rock wool medium in the original pot, you won’t have to move it later.
Solution temperature for growing Muskmelon hydroponically
The temperature level of solution circulating in triangular containers was higher than the other containers. This can be attributed to the fact that the materials used for triangular (polyethylene), U and double U shaped (PVC) are different. There was no significant difference between the temperatures of the solution in polybags, U shaped and double U shaped containers. In general, root zone temperatures above 28°C may seriously impair uptake and root growth so temperatures outside this range should be avoided. In the hot weather condition, the temperature of the solution increases due to solar radiation and aerial temperature level. Root zone temperatures are highly influenced by daily variations in soilless systems rather than soil systems but possibilities for accurate control of room temperature are easily carried out in soilless cultures than in soils systems, through cooling or heating systems.
Keep Muskmelons at a temperature above room temperature, from about 22 to 32°C. Temperature level can go down somewhat at night, as part of the plant circadian rhythm that’s present in nature. You want to expose the roots to slightly cooler temperatures, especially if you’re using a deep water culture type of system. Experts point out that because the Muskmelon has large leaf areas, they need a lot of oxygenation in the area where the plant roots live. Then, that means a bubble stone or other product can help if you’re sitting the plant roots directly in the reservoir.
As roots grow down below, stems and other areas of the plant are growing quickly up above. One of the main challenges with growing Muskmelons plants is preventing improper growth of stems and tendrils that can come out and choke other plants. You have to keep the Muskmelon plant trained to grow in the directions that are best for it. This is important in hydroponics, because you may be dealing with a smaller area, for example, in a compact grow box. So you need to keep pruning the Muskmelon plant and training it. You may need support trellises or tools.
Selecting and preparing nutrient solutions for growing Muskmelon hydroponically
You can make your nutrient mix, or get a Hydroponic nutrient package from the store. For beginners, highly recommend you buy it, saving the experimenting and mixing your nutrients when you get a bit of experience.
Normally, you will see listed in the ingredients and formula of the solutions sold at the store is 3 numbers in percentages. These are the 3 important minerals listed above – Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). For example, they come at the ratio about 10-10-10, meaning that each nutrient is composed of 10% of the solution. The rest of the about 70% is water, micro-nutrients, and other chelates that assist the nutritional process. Of course, that ratio will be different, depending on a variety of criteria;
- Plants types
- Plant growth stage
- Parts of plants you want to bring the most crop yields (leaf, fruit, root)
- Light intensity, weather, temperature level, the season of the year.
The nutrient solution to the Hydroponic system is just like fertilizers to the soil. A Hydroponic nutrient solution is a liquid-filled with all of the necessary nutrients so that roots can come into contact for its growth. Compared to the soil, the Hydroponic system makes it easier to measure and fill the exact amounts of nutrients in water solutions.
Muskmelons need high levels of potassium. They need common elements like nitrogen. You can get specific ready-mix nutrient packages for these types of plants, rather than trying on your own exactly what is best.
Lighting for growing hydroponic Muskmelon
Like other plants, Muskmelons will need adequate lighting. Make sure you have the right luminosity and the right spectrum of lighting to help these melon plants to achieve photosynthesis.
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Tips for growing Muskmelon hydroponically
Muskmelons are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family and require the same warm temperatures and high-fruiting potassium levels as cucumbers. Muskmelon has a distinctive raised network of tan-gray-colored netting on the surface of the fruit. The aromatic flesh of Muskmelons goes from green to salmon-orange and the flesh at full maturity is sweet and succulent.
Muskmelons are grown hydroponically in fields in warmer regions. They have a warty or scaly skin but are not netted, and have deeply grooved fruit shapes that are usually orange-fleshed. There are several specialty and heirloom melon types not commonly grown commercially that have good potential for indoor and greenhouse growers, or for gardeners looking for a small, niche-market crop.
All Melon types have similar vine growth characteristics and nutritional, pollination, environmental, and training requirements, with many of the modern, commercial-hybrid types having much more disease resistance than older types. Though, older varieties are highly prone to mildew diseases, sometimes to the point where plants are lost long before the fruit reaches maturity, with control difficult even with fungicide sprays.
Hybrid Muskmelon seed is expensive, so hydroponic growers usually sow into individual propagation cubes of media such as stone wool to avoid having to transplant. Germination is fastest at 82-86°F, with young plants ready to place into a hydro system within 2 weeks. Many hydro growers make the mistake of keeping larger seedlings such as Muskmelons in their propagation trays or cubes for too long. Root expansion from these is rapid and root dieback during this stage can result in pythium root rot.
Once established in a hydro system, Muskmelons can be given standard vegetative and fruiting nutrient formulations, but they have a high potassium requirement when in the fruiting stages. Supplements can be given once the plants are in active fruit expansion. These crops have a large leaf area, which means they require high levels of oxygenation in the root zone and are more suited to a free-draining substrate than a deep-flow solution culture.
Under ideal conditions, Muskmelon plants grow rapidly. Then, the stem will elongate and needs to be trained upwards within a week of planting out. Muskmelons produce tendrils that wrap around strings, other plants, and other objects in their paths, so regular training is required to keep them heading in the desired direction. Muskmelons can be grown at a higher plant density than cucumbers or similar crops around 4-5 plants per 3-ft-long single row. This layout allows optimal access for pollination, training, and pruning. Muskmelons are heavy at maturity some reach up to 4 lbs and will drag the vine down if not individually supported.
Paying attention to maintaining a large, healthy leaf area and providing high light conditions will ensure the plants produce sufficient assimilate for maximum fruit quality. Muskmelon fruit numbers should be limited to 3-4 per plant so each fruit receives sufficient sugars from the foliage. Keeping EC levels within a moderately high range of 2.2 to 2.6 after fruit set also assists with flavor intensity. Muskmelons need to be harvested at just the right stage of maturity, which can be hard to gauge as little color change occurs. This stage usually occurs about 50-55 days after pollination.
Harvesting of hydroponic Muskmelons
As the plant starts to produce Muskmelons, make sure to support these heavy fruits well, and pick them as soon as possible when they start to become loose from the plant stem. You will be able to enjoy a fresh slice of melon on the breakfast plate, or give away or sell these products.
Growing Muskmelons with hydroponics is essentially that easy. You just need the right gear and equipment and a little know-how to start growing these tasty types of plants right in your home or business spaces.
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