In the Voronezh region, where I live, not all cultures can fully develop and give a rich harvest. In recent years, the summer in our area was not too warm, and in July the "rainy season" began. Therefore, the cultivation of even early ripe varieties of watermelons and melons has become almost impossible. And last season I decided to experiment with such an interesting agricultural technique as grafting watermelons and melons on a bottle gourd - lagenaria. What came of this, I will tell in my article.Vaccination of watermelons and melons on lagenaria - a solution for a cold climate
Theoretically, you can plant melon or watermelon on any representative of the pumpkin family - at least for a pumpkin, at least for a zucchini. Nevertheless, it was experimentally established that bottle gourd has the highest compatibility with scion in the form of watermelons and melons, which leads to the best results. In particular, such vaccinations are easy to take root. Lagenaria has a very powerful root system that provides nutrition to the entire plant and its fruits, excellent cold resistance and resistance to disease.
Lagenaria is often grown as an independent culture, its other names are gourd, bottle or glassware pumpkin. As you can guess from the name, the main purpose of this pumpkin is the creation of decorative dishes (jugs, vases and so on). Thanks to the ability to maintain shape and give in to processing, the craftsmen greatly appreciate it.
Read also our material Tableware and other crafts from lagenaria with your own hands.
At the same time, the high cold resistance of the root system made this pumpkin ideal for splicing with melons and watermelons. Lagenaria develops well even when the soil temperature is only +5 degrees, while a watermelon needs at least +15, and at lower rates it just stops growing.
What other benefits do watermelons and melons have on the roots of bottle gourds?
- According to the observations of many gardeners, the yield of grafted watermelons and melons is approximately doubled.
- Due to the increase in the number of sugars due to the powerful lagenaria root that nourishes the fruits, the taste qualities of the crop are also improved.
- Grafted plants have earlier ripening periods and fruits can be harvested on average 10-15 days earlier, compared with ungrafted specimens of similar varieties.
- Watermelons and melons grafted onto lagenaria are not susceptible to fusarium wilt, since the root system of bottle gourd is resistant to this insidious disease that can completely destroy the plant.
My experience of vaccinating watermelons and melons in lagenaria
There are several methods for grafting watermelons and melons to lagenaria: with the tongue (butt), split, rapprochement, and some others.
Of all the possible options, I decided to practice with two: vaccination with the tongue and by rapprochement. Both methods are marked by high survival rate, since the root is preserved for the first time on both plants and there is a significant area of contact between the stock and scion.
Preparation begins with sowing seeds. Based on the fact that when planting in the ground, the age of melon seedlings should be about 25 days (older seedlings take root worse), I started sowing seeds for seedlings on the 20th of April. The first in a glass of volume P9 I sowed the hatching watermelon seeds. Three days later, sprouted seeds of lagenaria were sown in the same glasses.
After both plants have formed one real leaf, you can proceed directly to the vaccine. First of all, the plants are watered abundantly, after which I manually plucked the growth points from the pumpkin seedlings. Next, with a sharp blade, rubbed with alcohol, in the middle of the legs of the pumpkin seedling, I performed a shallow oblique cut from top to bottom, after which I performed a similar operation on the scion, while making an incision already from the bottom up.
Thus, small tongues formed on the seedlings of watermelon and lagenaria, which must be carefully combined. Next, you need to fix the place of vaccination, for this I used special clips-clothespins, which are sold in garden stores. But you can also use duct tape or foil. For better stability, grafted seedlings were tied to bamboo sticks (skewers, skewers), which can be easily found on sale in supermarkets.Only two cotyledons and a single leaf are left from the stock; the watermelon scion has a well-developed lash.
Seedling care after vaccination
After vaccination, seedlings must first be kept in shade at high humidity. As an impromptu greenhouse, I used a plastic container, which is usually used to store children's toys and other things. Such a container seemed an ideal solution, since it is quite capacious, because pots with grafted plants take up a lot of space. And it is quite high, which is important for powerful melon seedlings.
A container with seedlings was located on the floor away from the window, additional shading for plants was not required. About once a day, I opened the lid of the greenhouse and wiped the condensate from the walls, leaving it open for a few minutes for ventilation. Then tightly closed again.
On average, under similar conditions, seedlings are aged for 5-7 days. It is possible to determine that the operation was successful by a good leaf foliage. The survival rate of the scion was quite high, and out of 10 grafted seedlings I lost only one.
The next stage after we took out the seedlings from the greenhouse and put them on the window - the separation of watermelon seedlings from their own roots. To do this, I simply crushed the stem of the watermelon with my fingers below the graft, however, the stem was not completely separated, but only slightly damaged.
In order for the complete survival to occur as gently as possible, the stem of the watermelon had to be knotted several times, after which the stem dried up completely and could be cut off.
In the process of growing the grafted seedlings, the pumpkin graf constantly tries to take its toll and sets out on a rapid growth, therefore, it was necessary to constantly remove the leaves formed on the lagenaria, leaving only two cotyledons and one real.
Rapprochement grafting is almost identical to the tongue splicing method. But the technique of its implementation seemed to me simpler, since the incision is not made obliquely, but is made even. For grafting by splicing at the stock and scion to a depth of 2 millimeters, the skin is cut off at the same level, after which the plants are also fixed with a clip.
I’m not sure if this was the right decision, but when I planted the seedlings in the garden, I didn’t deepen the grafting site, and I didn’t take the clips. But, in my opinion, in the future this did not interfere with my melon.
Watermelon on the stock of lagenaria grew quite large and sweet. Pumpkin root melon has grown to a standard size.
Also read our article Watermelon - agricultural technology, interesting facts about the plant and the best varieties.
How did watermelons and melons grow in lagenaria
In general, I was satisfied with the result of vaccinations. Both watermelons and melons grafted onto lagenaria, in the end, received almost all the advantages that the founders of this method described. The plants are really well developed. Despite the weather conditions, they did not hurt anything and tied quite large and quite sweet (even considering the cool summer) fruits.
The only thing I did not notice in my conditions was a special increase in yield. From each bush I managed to collect only one watermelon and 2-3 melons.
The care of the grafted melon was required the same as usual - planting in prepared fertile soil, fertilizing and watering in a drought. The only difference is that the plants still needed to be monitored more, since in the open ground the lagenaria does not come to terms with the role of the stock and now and then it starts to grow rapidly.
On one bush, I did not have time to tame the pumpkin in time, and it turned into a full-fledged bush, completely drowning out the watermelon scion, which was represented by only two leaves, and, of course, did not give any fruit.
Nevertheless, if you regularly monitor the plants, tame lagenaria is not difficult, and the results are worth it. Therefore, I plan to repeat my experiments with vaccinated melon in the next season. And I recommend you to try it!