Melons are a member of the cucurbit family, and therefore related to cucumbers, squash, and courgettes. Like their relatives, melons thrive in really rich soil and benefit from frequent watering whilst the fruit is developing.
What distinguishes melons from other cucurbits is that melons enjoy warmth and sunlight, so much so that some melon varieties are best grown in a polytunnel or greenhouse. Warmth is important to allow the plants to set fruit and to ripen the fruit to full sweetness.
To cope with the UK weather, there are a number of F1 seeds that produce plants better able to tolerate growing outdoors. F1 seeds are hybrids, created by carefully crossing two different varieties of parent plants. The resulting F1 seeds inherit properties from both parents that help them grow better.
F1 seeds are often more expensive to buy than traditional varieties, and have less seeds in a packet, but should produce a better harvest. It is not possible to collect and save seed for the following year, as they will not have the same properties as the original F1 seeds.
Melon varieties do not need to cross pollinate with each other, as each plant produces both male and female flowers. Pollinating insects will need to get to the plants (if growing in a conservatory or greenhouse) to transfer the pollen between flowers, otherwise the female flowers (identified by a bulge below the flower) will need to be pollinated by hand.
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