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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 2:22 am 
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Location: upstate NY zone 6B Location Details
Just a quick update.

I'm noticing that the stems have really been fattening up in preparation to go all out for fruiting as a bigger stem allows for more nutrients & water to be transported to the luffas. The bigger ones are now clearly exceeding 1 inch at the base, and they continue to grow as long as the average temperature is above 50F.
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The longest ones are up to 1ft into the last part of the trellis which is around the 22ft mark for these vines. The pace has slowed down considerably with the cooler temperatures however it should still be pretty easy to cover up the whole trellis by early September. They are still only producing 1-2 fruits at a time each, at this point, but the switch to full production mode should turn on in another 1-2 weeks once these vines think they are big enough to focus most of their power into making the fruits over producing more vines.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:30 pm 
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Right now, the longest luffa vines are up to 3ft onto the last trellis section, around 5ft away from the end of the trellis so if it is warm enough, they should reach the end in another 2 weeks, and I'll have to re-direct them to turn back. The starting point to the end is right around 30ft in distance so it's basically guaranteed with 2 months of growing time left that the vines will exceed 30ft in length when some of them are already getting to the 24-25ft range.

The one thing that will slow down the vine growth is that most of the vines are already getting into heavy production mode, as some of them can support up to 5 fruits at once, maybe even more on a very good vine. I sometimes re-direct vines in crowded areas to the areas of the trellis that don't have many vines, and I've also been cutting off some of the leaves to reduce the transpiration rate so the vines can support even more vine/ fruit growth.

Here are some pictures today. Even though it is clearly cooler this summer, it seems like they are still growing better than last year as shown here. http://stevespeonygarden.blogspot.com/2 ... -from.html

It's tough to show the length of these vines, but this is one of the ones well beyond the 22ft mark which is marked by where all the poles intersect.
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When they get into serious production mode, it looks like most of the plants resources go into the production of fruits, and even the vine growth will slow down quite a bit.
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There are literally a few hundred of these guys between 7 plants, and they aren't aborting either.
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They should hold the maximum number of fruits right around the early part of September, and fruiting does typically slow down after mid September, but production continues until the first frost which happens on average by around November. There's still a bit of space left on the trellis to take over, but I'm quite satisfied with the performance of these plants.
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Here are some other melons that I've been growing which aren't as impressive or productive as the luffas, but still useful.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:57 am 
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The first heavy wave of luffas already has over 100 fruits total on this trellis, and some of them are getting up to 2ft already so with a warm week coming up, this will be a pretty decent harvest, but I know the 2nd and 3rd waves will be much stronger going into September. I've seen the frost hold off until into December which means growth can continue until then.

Lets keep our fingers crossed so that we don't get a late frost. The weather forecast for fall looks favorable so far.
http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-n ... 3/16321077

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:04 am 
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Location: Seabeck, Washington Zone 8b Elevation: 531 Feet
I'd love it if the wet season starts early. Dragging hoses and sprinklers around is getting old, and doing it one handed now while trying to keep my cast dry just sucks! :P


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 11:46 am 
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Ill beleive it when I see it steve. This year has been notouriously hard to predict.

JWH - you ever think of a small set of swales?

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:44 am 
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I've found that my huge trellis is really starting to pick up its production as it appears that 10-15 new fruits are flowering on a daily basis with only 7 plants. It has been getting tougher and tougher to keep up with the harvests as the production just keeps increasing each week. I usually use 2ft as a guideline for when they get harvested, and picking them usually stimulates more production further down the vine. I usually see between 3 to 10 fruits form in a row before they reach their holding capacity, and abort fruits for a few nodes.

I find that these plants which already have stems exceeding 1 inch at the base are sucking up water, and drying out the soil at a faster rate now that it is producing hundreds of fruit. Here are some pictures. There aren't any huge ones because I just harvested a lot of them.
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I know deer eat this stuff so for the section that doesn't have deer netting, I simply put the fruits up just so they can't reach them.
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I know the trellis will still run out of space even if it has over 1000 square feet of coverage so I'll directly some of the vines away from the main trellis. The longest ones are now over 27ft on length, under 3ft away from the end of the trellis so it will still get crowded in 2-3 more weeks. I wonder how many gallons of water these plants transpire because they need the sprinkler on a lot just to keep the soil moist.
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As expected, the vines just keep getting fatter each week, and I expect them to exceed 1 inch at the 3-4ft level by the end of the season.
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One interesting thing about this plant is that even the flower stacks are capable of producing fruits.
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These are just about ready to harvest, but I can let them get to the 3ft range. As long as I don't let them fatten up and seed, they should still be edible.
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I believe that these fruits can approach the 4ft range, and it seems like the ones with the skinnier middle section, kind of like growth plates seem to have the potential to get the longest kind of like this one.
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Sometimes, the female flowers will fail due to unknown reason, and never form. Here' s an example of one that failed, and another one that flowered successfully.
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I'm not sure what has happened to this vine, but just holding onto 3 fruits, it seemed to come to a halt right past the 22ft mark. My guess is that the plant probably simply can't support that many vines at the same time so something needed to be sacrificed for the benefit of all the other vines.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:35 am 
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Steve - What on earth do you do with all the luffas? Do you sell them?

Your production is so good I hope your overhead trellising can hold up all that weight!

How are the winter & bitter melons faring? Suddenly craving beef and bitter melon.......

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:00 am 
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As long as I keep them picked, they won't weigh down the trellis so much, and they are no more than 1-2lbs in weight when they are good for harvest. I do sell them, or give them off to neighbors when I have more than enough. This trellis is stronger than it looks so even if I did end up with 500 luffas on all at once, each weighing 5lbs because they are allowed to mature, I think the trellis would still hold up to the weight, but I'm not making sponges, or doing a seed operation so that won't be necessary.

Now if this trellis was loaded with wintermelons to max, with each of them weighing 20-30lbs, then it would snap as the steel pipes on this trellis which is nearly 8ft high at the further end are not designed to support that kind of weight. I'm getting pretty good production on wintermelons, but bitter melons produce way slower. Each plant on the bitter melons only produces at a rate of around 1 fruit per every 2-3 weeks while each luffa plant can produce at the rate of 2-3 fruits per day as long as the fruits are harvested regularly.


This is also not the typical production you may expect out of any average garden. Before I planted these, I amended each planting site with holes 2-3ft wide and deep with horse manure and compost. I also made sure that there was enough micro-nutrients with azomite, ironite, epsom salts, and chicken manure before I planted them. I still fertilize them every 2 weeks or so with a small amount of 5-10-5 slow release fertilizer, and some azomite, but the biggest thing that ups the production is keeping a sprinkler on them, making sure they get enough water, especially on warm sunny days.

Surprisingly, the production seems to really peak when it reaches the middle of September, and the temperatures are more in the 50-70F range, maybe due to the maturity of the vines.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 12:14 pm 
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You do too well with melons steve. I cant get them to mature at all here. I figured youd have as tough as a time dude to lack of heat

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:11 pm 
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Steve - Do wintermelons require as much heat as watermelons? We can manage cannonball watermelons as long as the garden is not on the open ocean shore, canteloupes most years. In the extreme south they are impossible, corn doesn't produce there either. In the Annapolis Valley all this stuff grows with ease - sandy rich soil & heat.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:04 pm 
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I find that it's pretty easy to get melons to mature. As long as you give them a good start so they grow vigorously at the beginning keeping the pests away, they should be well set up to set fruits fairly early, even watermelons which tend to take longer. If you have enough sunny days, it doesn't take all that much heat to get lots of production.

Wintermelons produce within 60-70 days from seed so they produce way easier than any other melon. The luffas take over 90 days to get into production mode no matter how well you pamper them. The key to all these plants is to get them started as soon as possible, and get then big fast.

I used the 400 watt metal halide indoors, but I think any other set up, at least equivalent to what I had or stronger will be sufficient. Another thing to consider in starting them early is to have large enough pots so they don't go root-bound. I had to transfer my 1.5qt luffas to 1 gallon pots because I knew the roots were already starting to belt around the pot, needing more growing room.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:06 am 
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you also used plastic on the ground early in the year. I didnt do that, myself. Ive tried cantelope twice and no real luck. I had one fruit last year but it never matured in time (It ended up being a plant free for all in that spot last year). I think Im going to try watermelons in earnest next year. WHat type do you grow?

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:58 am 
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This year, I'm just growing the black diamond kind, but watermelons only produce 1-2 fruits per vine so I don't focus too much on them as they take all season long. Not enough bang for the effort eh.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:16 am 
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Did you ever consider putting a little loop of mesh or chickenwire around the base of the plants? It would be a shame for a rabbit, deer, or squirrel to sever a plant. We have had rabbits chew through all sorts of things here. Are any pests even a problem there?

That is some very impressive production!

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:46 am 
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The slugs can get them early on when they are still tender at the bases, but once they get this big, I really doubt that pests would mess with these huge stems, especially when they nearly have the entire trellis covered already. Just 2 days ago, I saw one of my neghbor's cats take out a small rabbit, so even though they are around, there are enough cats in the area to keep the rodent population in check.

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