Hot summer afternoons are the perfect time to enjoy a nap in a hammock - especially if you are a pumpkin or a melon.
Climbing plants use vines and tendrils to pull themselves ever upward, but they are not always strong enough to support a full sized pumpkin or watermelon. Providing extra support for heavy fruits can allow vines to become far more productive. Supporting fruit in hammocks also helps with pest control and frugal disease.
Growing up and saving space
If you are like me, growing melons and squash is an exercise in space-saving. Melons, pumpkins, cucumbers, watermelons, and cucamelons can all be grown up stock panels, in vertical gardens or towers, or up a fence. Left untrained, these long vines can take over an area. Cucumbers and cucamelons do not need extra support. In fact, cucumbers will grow in strange shapes if they come in contact with anything as they develop. Cucumbers are best allowed to hang naturally. But growing vertically puts a heavy strain on stems and tendrils as fruits get larger. That’s where hammocks come in.
Hammocks, insect control, and fungal disease
Raising fruit off the ground reduces the chance of many insect pests, such as darkling beetles, even finding your crop. At the same time, solid fabric hammocks can also create the perfect hiding spot for earwigs, so it’s a good idea to monitor your hammocks frequently, especially if you are using a closely woven cloth. Getting fruit off the ground also reduces fungal disease. Millions of fungi wait in the soil for just the right conditions - conditions that are created when a melon or pumpkin sits on the ground, creating shade and moisture collection. Great for fungi. Bad for your crop.
How to make melon (and pumpkin) hammocks
You can use an old pair of pantyhose, net onion bags, scraps of hardware cloth or chicken wire, old dishtowels, or old T-shirts to create hammocks for your melons and pumpkins. I have tied strips of fabric around cyclone fencing, sunflower stalks, and stock panels. You can also slip colorful onion net bags over immature fruit and tie or thumbtack the bag to a fence, trellis, or other support. An added bonus to using onion bags - the colors make it easier to find your melons!
Get your melons and pumpkins up off the ground with hammocks!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!