French Methods of Planting Melons

Overview

The French intensive biodynamic method of gardening has spread across the world since the book "How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can Imagine" was published in 1974. It introduced the innovative gardening technique and the double-digging method one uses to make gardens more productive than possible with other methods. If you grow the French Charentais melon in a biodynamic bed, it will perform well and reward you with one of the most flavorful of melons.

Step 1

Prepare your French intensive garden bed. Measure an area about 4 feet wide by 8 to 12 feet long in a sunny location and then mark it with stakes and string. Then pull all weeds and any other unwanted plants.

Step 2

Spread a 3- to 4-inch layer of organic compost and other materials such as grass clippings, fallen leaves, peat moss, chopped up plant parts and any other materials you have on top of the soil.

Step 3

Double-dig the organic materials into the soil. Starting at one end of the bed, dig down as far as your shovel will go and then scoop out the soil and transfer it into a wheelbarrow. Then dig down another shovelhead deep and transfer that soil to your wheelbarrow. You will then have a trench at one end of your bed that is about 2 feet deep by about 1 foot wide.

Step 4

Move to the area adjacent to your trench. Dig one shovelhead deep and dump that soil into your first trench. Then dig down another shovelhead deep and move that soil into the first trench, which will now be level with the ground.

Step 5

Continue moving up your garden bed and double-digging more trenches, until you have reached the end. Then dump the soil in your wheelbarrow into the final trench. Water the area by running a sprinkler for 30 minutes before you plant.

Step 6

Plant your French Charentais melon seeds when the soil warms up to about 60 degrees F. Make rows 2 feet apart or plant several seeds in a hill surrounded by a shallow trench to allow for deep watering. Plant seeds 1 inch deep and 6 inches apart and then cover them with your soil/compost mixture. Add mulch on top of the soil to help keep the soil moist and warm.

Step 7

Plant flowers and herbs in the same bed as your melons if you want to use another French gardening method. The French people call this method a "potager," which means that different types of plants are combined in ways that mix colors, foliage and plant types into an attractive setting.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Stakes
  • String
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Other organic materials
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Charentais seeds
  • Mulch

References

  • The Tasteful Garden: French Charentais Cantaloupe Melon
  • Learn 2 Grow: Charentais Melon
  • "How to Grow More Vegetables..."; John Jeavons; 1974

Who Can Help

  • Avant Landscaping: What Is a Potager?
Keywords: French intensive biodynamic, Charantais melon, potager herbs flowers

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.