Grocery store muskmelons---if you can find them at all---are often picked well before they are ripe and spend several days packed into a shipping container before they reach the produce department. None of this does anything for their flavor or texture, yet you pay a premium for them. With a hydroponic garden, you are not stuck paying for substandard muskmelons. Learn a few simple techniques and enjoy fresh-picked, vine-ripened muskmelons year-round.
Muskmelons grow best in a top-drip or ebb and flow system that closely approximates the natural cycle of rain and drought. Deep water culture gardens provide too much water, causing the fruit to crack.
Provide growth media that can support 8 to 12 feet of plant growth. According to a study done by the University of Florida Horticultural Department, perlite and pine bark are both good choices. Trellising these plants is critical to fruit production, and if you can trellis up to 12 feet, you can increase the number of plants you grow.
Growing indoors gives you the ability to control every aspect of your plants' environment. This is especially important if you want to grow muskmelons year-round. They thrive at temperatures between 70 and 95 degrees F, and do not produce well below 60 degrees.
Muskmelons need a day and night cycle to grow and thrive. They produce best when the nighttime temperature is at the lower end of their temperature range, near 70 degrees. Depending on your climate, or how warm you keep your home or greenhouse, you may simply be able to trust the ambient temperature to stay within the acceptable range. Otherwise, use a heater to warm the hydroponic nutrient reservoir.
Muskmelons do best with a consistent level of nitrogen in their nutrient solution throughout the growing cycle. Ideally, they thrive with 200 parts per million of nitrogen.
According to a study done by the University of Florida Horticultural Department, increased potassium and an electrical conductivity of 3.8 milliSiemens/cm may produce sweeter fruit.
Keep the pH of the nutrient solution between 5.5 and 6.5 to give the plants the best opportunity to absorb nutrients.
How closely you can plant muskmelons depends upon how high you can trellis them. In a typical indoor room, you can only trellis to 8 feet due to ceiling limitations. If you have a high-roofed greenhouse, you can trellis up to 12 feet. Eight-foot trellising allows you to plant every 12 inches. Twelve-foot trellising gives you the ability to plant every 8 inches, giving you more plants per square foot.