Common Melon, or Musk-Melon, Cucumis me/o, L. an exotic plant growing wild in Asia, whence it has been introduced into the south of Europe, and is also cultivated in Britain, on account of its delicious fruit.—It is propagated from seed, which should be from three to six years old, and be sown at two different periods, in order to obtain a succession of crops. For those of the first season, the seeds may be set about the middle of February, on a cucumber-bed, at a distance of two inches from each other, and covered with a little earth. When a fortnight old, they should be transplanted, and in the course of three additional weeks, finally removed to the bed on which they are intended to remain, and which ought to be in a warm situation, so as to be defended from cold and violent winds.
The second crop should be sown about the middle of March, and treated in a similar manner. But the hot-bed, formed with the view of reaving these tender exotics, ought to evaporate two or three days before it be ready for the reception of the plants, which should be carefully removed, without injuring their fibres. After they are placed on the tops of the hills raised of garden mould above the dung, it will be necessary to water them once or twice, till they have taken root, when their management will vary bat l ittle from that of cucumbers, excepting that melons require more air, and a small quantity of water. As soon as the plant spreads into branches, it must be properly clipped, so that only two of the principal shoots may remain ; and, in order to produce perfect and ripe fruit, one only should be left on each stem, and all superfluous young melons immediately removed as soon as they appear. Besides, the diseased leaves and branches, together with the forked extremities, ought to be continually cut off; and, when the fruit is set or formed, it will be necessary to place thin boards or stones under each, and to turn it gently twice in the week, that the whole may be equally benefited by the sun "and air. When fully grown, it must be plucked at a proper time, as it will otherwise lose a considerable part of its flavour. Thus, if melons be intended for the table, they should be cut early in the morning, immersed in ice, or cold spring water, and kept in the coolest place, till they are used. The most certain criterion to ascertain the maturity of this fruit, is its cracking near the footstalk, and beginning to smell; in which state it may be gathered without delay.
In the year 17G8, Mr. Rey-nolds communicated to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, &:c. the following method of raising melons without earth, dung, or water. He directs a bed of tan-ners' waste to be prepared in the 'month of March, about four feet deep, six feet wide, and twelve feet in length, which is to be covered with four lights, admitting neither rain nor moisture. In the course of three weeks, the bed will acquire a sufficient degree of heat, when a few melon seeds are to be put into warm milk, in an earthen vessel, which is pressed down into the bark-bed, where it remains for the space of 36 hours, in order to promote the vegetation of the seeds. Next, he directs four holes to be made in the bed, at equal distances, each being nine inches in diameter, and five inches deep. These are to be supplied at the bottom with coarsely pulverized oak-bark, resembling sawdust, to the depth of three inches, into which some of the seeds are to be pressed with the hand, and covered to the thickness of two inches with additional powder; the whole being carefully compressed and levelled. As soon as the plants attain a proper size, Mr. Reynolds directs the best to be selected, properly pruned, and to be exposed as much as possible to the sun, during the summer.
The properties of melons, correspond with those of cucumbers : they are however preferable to the latter; being more aromatic, wholesome, and requiring a smaller proportion of spices to counteract their natural coldness.
Water Melon, or Cucumis Anguria, L. though properly a species of the former, is by some considered as a distinct genus of exotic plants, comprising three species, of which one only is known in Britain, by the name of Citrul It is cultivated in all the warm countries of Europe, and also in Asia, Africa, and America ; where its salubrious and cooling fruit is greatly esteemed.
The water-melon is propagated from seed, in a manner similar to the farmer ; it requires, however, a more open exposure to the air; and, during cold nights, it will be advisable to cover the glasses with mats, in order to keep the bed warm.—In its properties, this species nearly resembles the preceding; but, partaking more of the nature of cucumbers, water-melons require a larger proportion of spice and wine ; as otherwise they are apt to induce flatulency or diar-rhoea.