The euphoria I feel when I eat sweet juicy chilled watermelon is something I still can’t explain, I know it sounds weird but we are talking about Watermelons here!!
And am not just talking about the ones gotten from the store, I mean the ones freshly plucked from the garden
You don’t know watermelon until you bite into your fresh melon that’s still warm from the sun—packed it’s full of so much more luscious, rich taste than anything you can buy at the supermarket!
Growing watermelons isn’t as difficult as you would imagine, and a little forethought can go a long way.
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I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about growing these delicious fruits in your yard, and before you know it, you’ll be slicing homemade watermelon for breakfast, picnics, and drinks.
Watermelon, maybe more than any other fruit, is noted for being not only sweet and juicy but also very refreshing.
Watermelons contain 92 percent water, which explains why they are particularly refreshing on a hot day.
And, believe it or not, the power of this fruit to hydrate us is a significant aspect of its history, dating back to its initial human use.
Watermelons are native to Africa, where they were first employed as a source of water rather than sustenance.
The thick rind allowed people to preserve and carry these melons for long periods, as well as use them as a source of water in scorching desert regions.
Watermelons come in a variety of skin patterns and sizes, and while most of us associate them with something hefty and rectangular with light and dark green stripes, they exist in a variety of shapes and sizes.
When you grow your own at home, you have access to a wide range of types.
When Is The Best Time To Start Growing Watermelon?
Watermelon demands a long growing season (about 80-90 days from seed sowing) and despises chilly temperatures.
When the soil temperature has reached roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit and there are no more cool nights in the forecast, you can plant your watermelon.
Many people’s last frost date in the spring is two to three weeks after this.
Watermelon seedlings can also be purchased from nurseries. Plant these after the danger of frost has passed; they are quite delicate.
Keep an eye on the weather forecast in your area and consider covering your planting area in black plastic to help the soil warm up even more.
Planting Soil Needs
Watermelons thrive in loamy, sandier soil that drains easily. They may struggle on clay-rich, poorly draining soil. A soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0 is ideal for watermelons. Before you plant, amend the soil with manure, seaweed, and/or compost.
Watermelons take up a lot of room—up to 20 square feet per plant is required. Plant them somewhere where they won’t crowd out other crops so that their vines can sprawl.
Watermelons are heavy feeders, hence good, nutrient-rich soil is required. Find out more about soil amendments and planting preparation.
How To Plant Watermelons
- The soil must be at least 60°F for watermelon seeds to germinate. Germination will be more successful and faster if you can wait for your soil to get up to 70-95°F.
- Watermelon seed germination requires a soil temperature of 95°F.
- Watering your planting area a few hours ahead of time or waiting a few hours after rainfall is good, as is soil that is damp but not waterlogged.
- Sow seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter in seed-starting pots or 1/2 to 1 inch deep outdoors.
- Use bigger starting pots than you would for most seeds to allow for more root development. Consider using compostable containers that can be cut away or planted directly in the garden to reduce the chance of seedlings’ sensitive roots being damaged during the transfer.
- Sow 4 to 6 seeds per hill if direct planting outdoors, ultimately trimming to 2 to 3 seedlings.
When transplanting watermelon seedlings, use the utmost caution. Because their roots are so delicate, avoid disturbing the soil when taking them from pots.
To keep pests at bay, cover the plants with row covers after transplanting.
When you see both male and female flowers on the vine, remember to remove the row coverings so pollinators may get to the blossoms.
How to Grow Watermelons
If you fertilize, make sure it has more nitrogen than phosphate and potassium, as this will promote leaf and vine development.
Use a fertilizer with less nitrogen once flowering begins to boost blooms and fruit instead. A seaweed-based fertilizer is what we choose to utilize.
Watering is crucial from the time the seed is planted until the fruit begins to form.
Melon plants require 1 to 2 inches of water every week when they are developing, flowering, and setting fruit. Keep the soil wet but not soggy.
Morning irrigation near the vine’s base is best, as it avoids wetting the foliage and above watering. Once the fruit has grown, cut back on the watering. The sweetest melon is produced when the weather is dry.
Mulching around the plants with black plastic or straw serves several purposes: it warms the soil, inhibits weed growth, and keeps developing fruits of the soil.
Watermelon plants don’t need to be pruned, but if you don’t let side vines grow and stick to the main vine, vine productivity may improve.
Simply snip off the terminal buds as they form when the plant is young, and pinch off some blossoms to concentrate the energy on fewer melons.
How Can You Know If A Watermelon Is Ripe Or Sweet?
When to pluck a watermelon is an age-old question. One of the most difficult aspects of producing watermelons is determining ripeness, but there are a few ways to identify whether a watermelon is ripe. The three strategies we employ are as follows:
- A technique to tell if a watermelon is ripe is to listen to it. Knock on a watermelon with your knuckles (choose one that is unripe). Then knock on the one you believe is ripe. In comparison to an immature watermelon, when it’s ready, it’ll sound hollow. It may be difficult to tell the difference at first, but after a few rounds of watermelon knocking, your ears will be trained to recognize the difference.
- Look at the spot where the watermelon was on the ground when you flip it over. Your watermelon is ready to pick if it is a golden, vivid yellow colour. It’s not ready if it’s light yellow, white, greenish-yellow, or even the colour of the skin.
- Another sign to look for is whether the watermelon’s tendon and leaf nearest to the stem have begun to brown or have entirely browned or yellowed.
How Do You Go About Harvesting A Watermelon?
Watermelon requires a little more effort to pick than cantaloupe, which simply falls off the vine when ready. You can either grab the melon and gently twist it until it disconnects, or you can cut the melon at the stem with scissors or a garden knife.
Do Watermelons Require A Lot Of Water To Grow?
Watermelons, like most other vegetable garden plants, require 1 to 2 inches of water per week to thrive. This is especially crucial while the watermelon plants are producing fruit.
Water makes about 92 percent of a watermelon, so make sure your plants are adequately watered if you want big, juicy watermelons!
What Are The Best Watermelon Kinds To Grow?
Growing watermelon is a lot of fun because you can produce yellow, orange, and even white-flesh varieties in addition to the traditional red watermelon you find in the grocery store.
Here are a few of our personal favourites:
- Moon and Stars—The fascinating markings on the rind of this renowned heritage watermelon have earned it the name Moon and Stars. Each melon can weigh up to 40 pounds!
- Orangeglo Watermelon—While many orange and yellow watermelon varieties are attractive, they lack flavour, but this is different from the orange glow.
- Blacktail Mountain—Blacktail Mountain can be a nice alternative for those of you who have shorter, cooler seasons. It’s a flavorful early ripener (it only takes approximately 70 days for a full-size watermelon to ripen).
- Sugar Baby—This seeded watermelon with a little size comes true to its name. It’s so sweet that you’ll swear it’s been dusted with sugar! The melons are around 10 inches across, and each watermelon vine can produce up to 4-6 melons. Sugar Baby Bush, which is the same watermelon but planted on a patio-friendly plant, is also available.
After a good season of watermelon farming, your admiration for these fruits will undoubtedly expand.
Do you have a garden full of watermelons? Please let us know in the comments section below!