Melon Road in Peckham reminds us that it was named after the Melon Ground that existed there in the eighteenth century and from whence the fruit found its way to the London markets. A 'melon ground' is also noted on the ground plan of Hill House which in the eighteenth century stood near what is now Red Post Hill and the plot was located near the site of the tennis courts in the grounds of James Allen's Girls' School.
So how easy was it to grow melons in Dulwich two hundred years ago? Not at all difficult if you used cold frames and cultivated the melons in much the same way as cucumbers. Melons are propagated from seed sown in a cold frame in May. The seeds should be planted in a compost of three parts bulk of medium loam and one part well-rotted stable manure with a liberal sprinkling of bone meal and wood ashes. This should be spread to a depth of 4"-6" over a porous base such as a layer of clean straw. Germination is rapid and as soon as the seedlings appear some ventilation should be given. By the time the plants have their fourth leaf they may be spaced out on previously prepared mounds using only enough soil to cover the ball. Water twice a week. Remove the male flowers (recognisable by the thin stalk) and all the female flowers should also be picked off each plant leaving only four flowers on each. Dust these with the pollen from the male flower (not necessarily from the same plant). The crop will be ripe in June, the main crop in July. It is also possible to get a late crop. Pull up the old plants, clear off any mould and earth again, give them a little water. Do not water after mid-September. Expect the melons to be ripe at the end of September with the main crop in October or even November.
From 'A Treatise on cultivating melons' by William Allen 1834