posted on Sep, 22 2010 @ 11:23 AM
All excellent advice above, I can only tell you what I know by my own hand which no amount of books can explain, "know your soil". That's the
secret! Some people have clay, some sand, some with good drainage and some with no drainage. Alkaline versus Acid soil.
I think the first step would be to take a few samples from where you wish to plant and call your County Extension Office (typically associated with a
nearby University) and ask if they do soil testing. Sometimes there is a fee for the testing but it is so worth it.
Here is an example of how I grow excellent cucumbers, watermelon, and cantaloupe: I buy myself a bale of straw (not hay because some folks consider
alfalfa as hay). Cut the strings and open the bale to create 1 to 2 foot mounds or rows. Every two feet I place a two handfuls of soil on the top of
the row. I do not mix it, I simply just place the soil on the top. Then I plant two seeds per soil top. When the plants sprout the soil begins to
compost the straw below and as the plant grows it covers the mound reducing watering and providing all the good stuff the plant wants. I still
fertilize every 4-6 weeks with a 10-10-10 (very basic tomato food) fertilizer.
I guarantee your cucurbits will thrive and you will have an abundance of fruit!
I began using this method when I found out that clay causes most cucurbits to turn bitter.
Here are some pictures to show how I did it, I also need to note that the cucurbit family does not like water on their leaves if at all possible, so a
drip system or soaker hose is much better than a sprinkler. Not much you can do about rain unless you build yourself little umbrellas!
Although this appears to have a substantial amount of soil where each plant is, this is just two handfuls and then the straw begins to decompose. I
did zero tilling and the mounds of straw just sit on the surface of the ground. I used the poles as a means to border the bed and can be rolled away
to move them.
in this photo you can see watermelon at the forefront, then my cantaloupe, then the cucumbers. These all have the potential to cross pollinate but
will not effect that year's fruit.
Here is an excellent pdf file Cross
Pollination of Cucurbits