Watermelons ( How To Grow, Care For, Pick, And Cut )

Having success growing watermelons in pots starts before you even plant your watermelon seeds watermelon seeds. Next thing select a container or you can use a cell-pack. If you use a cell-pack get one with a heat mat and use a good soilless mix to start your seeds in.

Now, select a container that will be large enough for your watermelon to thrive and grow strong. Watermelons grow fast and require plenty of fresh water, so the best thing to use is a a 5-gallon or even larger size container. Make sure what ever you use has enough drainage holes.

Begin to fill the watermelon container or cell-packs with potting soil or other soilless mix. What is a soilless mix, anyways? Is growing items that does not include the use of soil. Instead, plants are grown in a variety of organic and inorganic materials. The plus, for using these materials rather than garden soil allows gardeners to grow healthier plants without the threat of soil-borne diseases. Plants grown in soilless mixes are less likely to be bothered by pests.

Some of the most common soilless growing mediums include peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and sand. Generally, these mediums are mixed together rather than used alone, as each usually provides its own function. Fertilizers are also commonly added to the mix, providing important nutrients.

Below Is A List Of Soil Less Growing Mediums:
1. Sphagnum Peat Moss has a coarse texture but is lightweight and sterile. The peat moss promotes adequate aeration and holds water well. But the moss is usually difficult to moisten on its own and is best used with other mediums. This growing medium is ideal for germinating seeds.
2. Perlite is a form of expanded of expanded volcanic rock and is usually white in color. Perlite provides good drainage, is lightweight, and holds air. Perlite should also be mixed with other mediums like peat moss since it does not retain water and will float to the top when plants are watered.
3. Vermiculite is often used with or instead of perlite. This particular form of mica is more compact and, unlike perlite, does well at helping to retain water. On the other hand, vermiculite does not provide as good aeration as does the perlite.
4. Coarse Sand is also used in soilless mixes. Sand improves drainage and aeration but doesn’t retain water.
In addition to the above mediums, these other materials, such as bark and coconut coir, can be used. Bark is often added to improve drainage and promote air circulation. Coconut coir is similar to peat moss and works much the same way, only with less mess.

When filling your container don’t use dirt from your garden. This will compact quickly in the container and will make growing watermelons in containers difficult.

Next, you now need to choose a variety of watermelon that will do well in pots. When planting watermelon in pots, you need to look for a compact variety that grows small fruit.

The List Includes:
1. Moon and Stars: Red Watermelon Heirloom Seeds
1A. Moon and Stars: Yellow Watermelon Heirloom Seeds
2. Sugar Baby: Red Watermelon Heirloom Seeds
3. Crimson Sweet: Red Watermelon Heirloom Seeds
3A. Crimson Sweet: Yellow Watermelon Heirloom Seeds
4. Early Moonbeam: Yellow Watermelon Heirloom Seeds
5. Jubilee: Red Watermelon Heirloom Seeds
6. Golden Midget: Red Watermelon Heirloom Seeds with a Golden Colored Rind
7. Jade Star: Red Watermelon Seed
8. Millennium: Red Watermelon Seeds
9. Orange Sweet: Orange Watermelon Seeds
10. Solitaire: Red Watermelon Seeds

Now that you have selected the watermelons that will grow in your container(s), place the seed into the soil. The seed should be plant 3 times deeper than it is long. You water the seed well. You can also transplant a seedling that has been started indoors into the soil. Whether you are planting seeds or a seedling, make sure that all chances of frost have passed outside.

Growing Conditions And Plant Information:

Growing watermelons requires lots of space, lots of sun, lots of water and lots of
nutrients. Watermelons require a lengthy growing season of up to 100 days. They are greedy, rambling vines, like all plants in the cucurbiteae family ( e.g. zucchini, squash, pumpkin, cucumbers …)

Watermelons are not particularly difficult to grow, but because they are so demanding. I don’t consider watermelons a good plant for beginner gardeners. ( You can get lucky if you live in optimum conditions ).

I also don’t consider them a good plant for anyone with restricted space, water, or average soils. But, if you have a large enough container you can grow watermelon.

You need to put a lot into a watermelon, and what you get out in terms of nutrition is not a lot. So from a permaculture point of view watermelons wouldn’t be the very first thing to worry about.

I get way too many questions about growing watermelons, they are very popular. I grow many different kinds of watermelons myself, so there we go. I hope you enjoy, this is for all of my many readers.

How To Grow Watermelons ( When And Where To Grow Them ):

If you live in the tropics the dry season, which is winter, is the best watermelon growing season. But, most of us don’t live in the tropics. So here is what we can do.

Watermelons do not cope very well with extreme heat or the humid, soggy conditions of our wet season/summer. Fungal diseases and bugs will wipe them out in no time at all.

If you live in a cooler climate, then summer is the time to grow watermelon.

You do need at the very least three months, up to 100 days, of reliably hot, sunny weather to grow and ripen a watermelon. During that time your average daily maximum temperature should be at least 20 – 25 degrees C. or 70 – 80 degrees F. Warmer is even better.

(There are different watermelon varieties, so if you are at the low end of that, look for a faster maturing variety.

Grow watermelon in full sun. You also need an abundant supply of good water (rain water if at all possible) and nutrients (good soil).

And you need space. As I said before, a rambling vine. They like to go wandering and smother everything around them.

A Guide To Early Watermelon Varieties:

Yes, watermelons need hot weather (heat) to develop their sugars. And yes, watermelons need sun-drenched days to produce the rampant vines, that manufacture carbohydrates that sweeten the fruits. But they don’t need endless days of such weather. Plenty of delicious watermelons can be grown in summer starved places from Montana to Maine and into Canada by using varieties that mature in 85 days or less, heating up the soil fast and starting seeds indoors. Even in areas with longer growing seasons, these early birds provide a sweet prelude to the later season favorites.

Numerous heirloom watermelons, some brought from Russia, and other varieties developed by cold-climate breeders, mature within the 85 day window and are available early. Smaller fruits and early flowering are traits that set apart watermelons that mature early in the growing season.

Watermelons are native to Africa, and the trick to getting the best – quality fruit in cooler climates is to duplicate the continent’s hot sun and sandy soil as best you can. Situate the watermelon garden in a south facing, full – sun area. Because seeds and transplants do nothing until the soil has warmed to at least 60 degrees, use clean or black plastic to heat up the ground. If you want to go a step further using plastic. You can use a clear plastic film over seeds or young plants to generate more heat. Late watermelons can be ripened under plastic.

You can use black landscape cloth instead black plastic. The cloth allows the soil to breathe and water to pass through, something plastic does not do. You can use the black plastic on the ground and spun polyester row covers over transplants to give them a fast start. The covers are excellent for controlling cucumber beetles and vine borers, which are the worse watermelon pests. Row covers must be removed when plants start to bloom so that pollinating insects can reach the flowers.

Light fluffy soils warm faster than do clay ones. Plus, watermelons love loose, well – drained dirt. You can amend the ground with compost or leaf mold, or a cover crop such as winter rye or hairy vetch the previous fall. Turn it over in the spring a month before you plant.

If you are in search of a perfume watermelon? It is the apple – sized ‘Queen Anne’s’ pocket watermelons are the aromatic giants of the watermelon world, redolent with a perfume described best as a mix of ripe cantaloupe, pineapple and a hint of jasmine. This heirloom also is known by the names ‘Plum Granny,’ ‘Dudaim,’ ‘Perfume,’ and ‘Pomegrante.’ It has been around for hundreds of years and was especially favored by the Victorians. Ladies of the era carried them in their pockets and purses as perfume. Although they are attractive in their velvety orange rinds striped in creamy and gold, these watermelons sadly are not gourmet fare. In fact, the creamy white flesh is barely edible, its tasteless and slimy. ‘Tigger‘ is very similar to ‘Queen Anne’s’ in appearance, but it’s three times bigger and even more aromatic. Plus, it’s tasty. Seed catalogs describes ‘Trigger‘ as vibrant yellow with fire-red zigzag stripes. Its white flesh is sweet with a citrus aftertaste. Each watermelon is about one pound, perfect for one or two servings. Plants are prolific, too and watermelons are ripe in about 80 days.

Here Is A List Of Early Maturing Watermelon Varieties:

1. Green Nutmeg: Has a spicy sweetness taste, has been around for more than 150 years. It’s ripe
in 180 days.
2. Golden Midget: A pink watermelon with a rind that turns golden yellow when fully mature at 75 days. Dr. Elwyn Mender of the University of New Hampshire created this open-pollinated, 6-inch melon in 1959.
3. Blacktail Mountain: Is an extra-early (70 days) melon, sets flavor standard for all watermelons, and the taste is juicy, crunchy and sweet. It’s everything you want from a watermelon.
4. Cream of Saskatchewan: A super-sweet white-fleshed heirloom melon, weighs four to ten pounds and ripens in about 80 days.
5. Jingrai #2: Relative maturity from flowering in 30 days. Round shape its average weight is around 9 pounds. Crispy and pink flesh. Good quality.
6. J7-X-10: Relative maturity days from flowering is 30 days. Has a round shape, average weight is 18 pounds. Is a good shipper and has a good shelf life. Crispy flesh.
7. Beauty Richness: Is a medium nature variety. Relative maturity days from flowering is 32 days. Has a round shape, average weight is 16 pounds. Is tolerant to low temperature.
8 Sweet Beauty: Relative maturity days from flowering is 28 days. Has a round shape, average weight 15.4 pounds. Is a good shipper and shelf life.
9. Sugar Baby: Here is an interesting nugget about Sugar Baby watermelon information is its very high “brix” measurement mean? Commercial watermelon growers value melons high in sugar and the name for the sweetness is called “brix” and can be scientifically measured. As its name implies, Sugar Baby watermelons have a brix measurement of 10.2 and rank as one of the sweetest watermelon cultivars. Sugar Baby melons are round “picnic” or “icebox” watermelons perfect for small families and as the name suggests, small enough to fit into the icebox. They weigh in at between 8 to 10 pounds and are 7-8 inches across. They have either a dark green with slight dark veins or medium green with dark veined rind. The flesh is as mentioned, sweet, red, firm, and crisp with mottled with very few small, tan-black seeds.
10. Crimson Sweet: Large, round melons averaging 25 lb. are light green with dark green stripes. Flesh is dark red, firm and fine-textured. You have 80 days to maturity.
11. Bijou: Has a round shape, weigh 3.5 to 4 pounds. Is a seedless watermelon and is disease resistance. Bijou melons are deep red in color. Days to maturity is 75 days. Has a very high yield and has a 13 to 15 brix level.
12. Captivation: Has a blocky shape. Weight is 14 to 17 pounds; 10 to 11 inches in diameter. This is a seedless melon and is disease resistance. Captivation melons have red flesh, deep-green rind, crimson sweet stripe appearance. You have 80 days to maturity, has a high yield, and brix rating of 12.
13. Kingman: Is round/oval in shape. Weighs 18 to 22 pounds, is seedless. Light green with medium-green stripes, bright-red flesh. Crisp and firm flesh, strong vines, great eating quality, 36-count bins. You have 80 days to maturity and has a high yield.
14. SV0258WA: Has a oblong shape. Weighs 15 to 17 pounds and is seedless. Dark mottle-striped rind, bright-red flesh and is mature in 80 days. 36 to 45 count for bins, strong vine, produces well on weaker soils. Has a very high brix level and has a high yield.
15. Citation: Round/oval in shape. Weighs 10 to 14 pounds/60 count, plus it’s seedless. Medium-green rind with dark-green stripes, deep-red flesh, 76 days to maturity. Reliable free-setting for early crops, excellent early yields, and has a 11 to 11.5 brix level.
16. Cut Above: Round/oval in shape. Weighs 15 to 17 pounds and it’s seedless. Intermediate resistance to Fusarium wilt, gummy stem blight. Bright-red flesh, medium-green rind with green stripes, 80 days to maturity. High yield in all field trials and commercial plantings. Excellent shipping capabilities, has a high brix level.
17. Harvest Moon: Oval in shape. Weighs 8 to 13 pounds and is seedless. Dark-green rind with small yellow markings (“stars”) and large yellow markings (“moons”), and has red flesh. Average of 2 to 3 fruit per plant,has 78 days to maturity.
18. Sweet Polly: This melon is oval/blocky in shape. Weighs 15 to 18 pounds and is seedless. Intermediate resistance to Anthracntose 1, Fusarium wilt 0-1. Has bright red flesh, maturity in 80 days. Very vigorous vine, great shipper with outstanding internal quality. Extremely high yield and has a high brix level.
19. Traveler: This melon is blocky in shape. Weighs 15 to 20 pounds, and is seedless. High resistance to anthracnose caused by Colletotrichum orbiculare race 1. Is deep-red in color, has 76 days to maturity. Has hollow heart tolerances, displays adataptability in adverse conditions, good uniformity. Has a high yield, its brix level is 11 to 12%.
20. Triple Treat: Is round in shape. Weighs 8 to 10 pounds, 12 to 13 inches in diameter, is a seedless melon. Red in color, 70 days to maturity. Ice box type and has a 14 brix level.

Before You Start Seeds:

Be seed savvy. Check out several different seed companies and compare seeds with what you may have in mind to plant. Keep an open mind, you may find something that really catches your eye. Also check out some local companies.

Make a list of what you’d like to grow. A good rule-of-thumb is to imagine your garden one-quarter the size that it really is. This allows for good spacing practices!

Prepare for some losses. Though it’s good not to plant too much for your garden space, it’s also good to assume that some of your seeds  won’t germinate, or that they will inexplicably die off later. Plane a few extra, just in case.

Team up with a neighbor and share seeds if you have leftovers!

Don’t start your seeds too early, especially tomatoes. Most annual flowers and vegetables should be sown indoors about 6 weeks before the last frost in your area. Check out a planting calendar to see when to start seeds (indoors and outdoors) in your area.

You may have to soak, scratch, or chill seeds before planting as directed on packet.

Use clean containers. Most seed companies offer seedling flats, peat pots, and other growing containers, but egg carton compartments make good containers, too. Be sure to poke holes in the sides near the bottom of the containers you use in order to allow excess water to drain.

Label your containers now! There’s nothing more frustrating than forgetting what you planted.

How To Start (To Be Transplanted Into Your Garden):

Fill clean containers with a potting mix made for seedlings. Use soil less peat moss and mix in equal parts vermiculite and perlite to hold enough water and allow oxygen to flow. Don’t use regular potting soil.

Pour soil less mix into a large bucket and moisten with warm water. Fill your containers to just below the rim.

Plant your seeds according to your seed packet. Most seeds can simply be gently pressed into the mixture; you can use the eraser end of a pencil to push in seeds. When planting seeds, plant the largest seeds in the package to get the best germination rate.

Cover containers with plastic. Prick holes with a toothpick for ventilation. Water as directed.

Water newly started seedlings carefully. A pitcher may let the water out too forcefully. A mist sprayer is gentle but can take a long time. Try using a meat-basting syringe, which will dispense the water effectively without causing too much soil disruption.

Find a place in the kitchen where there is natural bottom heat—on top of the refrigerator or near the oven. (Move the tray if the oven is on, as it may become too hot.)

Seeds sprout best at temperatures of 65 to 75°F (18 to 24°C).

When seedlings appear, remove the plastic and move containers into bright light.

When the seedlings get their second pair of leaves, prepare individual pots filled with a potting mix with plenty of compost. Move the seedlings carefully to the new pots and water well. Keep pots out of direct sun for a few days.

How To Harden Off Indoor Sown Seedlings (To Transplant Into Your Garden):

Moving is one of life’s most stressful events. Imagine how trying it would to move from a perfect climate where it’s always 70 degrees, calm and sunny, to a harsh and windy climate where it gets really cold at night and the sun is burning hot during the day. Put yourself in your seedlings shoes. If you had to move from San Diego to Montana, wouldn’t you want some time to adjust?

You’ve started your seeds. Kept them hydrated just right. Transplanted them. Maybe fed them a diluted dish of fertilizer or two. They are tall now. Your seedlings may look like they are ready to go it on their own in your garden, but be kind, prepare them for the extremes of your garden with a process called ‘hardening off.’

The author of ‘Grocery Gardening’, Jean Ann Van Krevelen, said you shouldn’t skip the step of hardening-off your seedlings. Young plants may not make it if planted directly into your garden with out a transition.

“When seedlings are grown inside in a controlled climate, they don’t have the opportunity to develop the strength and structure to live out in the elements. They need to get acclimated to their new home, “ said Van Krevelen.

To harden off your seedlings, gradually introduce them to the outdoors. It helps to store your seedlings in trays, at this point, to make transporting the plants easier.

“Take your seedlings to a protected location outside for one hour for the first day,” she said, “Do this each day for a week. Add one hour for each day of the process. By the end of the week, you’ll be at 7 hours and the plants will be ready to be transplanted,” While inside, seedling stems haven’t been exposed to winds. Plants, like us, need to start our workouts and gradually increase the intensity to become strong. So early on in the hardening off process, provide seedlings shelter.

“Don’t put them in direct sun. Don’t put them in a windy location. Keep in mind, they are just babies,“ said Van Krevelen. If you want to help your plants beef-up early, you can add a fan to the area where you are storing your seedlings. Use the fan to gently move the air. Too much direct breeze from a fan could dry out the seedlings and do the same damage wind would in the garden.

Gardeners have different approaches to the watering aspect of the hardening off process. Van Krevelen keeps her seedlings evenly moist from grow light to garden. “Provide consistent moisture. Seedlings are susceptible to any extreme until they are established,” she said. Horticulturalist Erica Shaffer agrees. “Don’t send your babies into the big, bad world of your garden thirsty and hungry,” she said.

Good gardeners aren’t perfect. And the process of hardening off doesn’t have to be executed perfectly or uniformly to be highly successful. If you forget to take your plants out one morning before work, just start back up the next day. If the spot you chose for them becomes too sunny as the day went on, all is not lost. Plants are a forgiving lot and will hang in with you as long as you give them a little attention.

There is a bit of hassle involved in schlepping the plants outdoors and back in again each day over a week. But after gently caring for your baby plants for weeks, the added effort is good insurance that your plants will leave your nest safely and do well in your garden. After all, don’t you want to shield every thing you love from unnecessary stress?

Moving Seedlings Outside (To Plant Into Your Garden):

Before transplanting seedlings to your garden, you’ll first need to do something called “hardening off” (see about for how to harden off your seedlings. This will prepare the seedlings for the harsh realities (i.e., climate) of the outside world!

After the hardening-off period, your seedlings are ready for transplanting. Here are a few tips:

Set transplants into loose, well-aerated soil. Such soil will capture and retain moisture, drain well, and allow easy penetration by seedling roots.

Soak the soil around new seedlings immediately after transplanting.

Spread mulch to reduce soil moisture loss and to control weeds.

To ensure the availability of phosphorus in the root zone of new transplants (phosphorus promotes strong root development), mix 2 tablespoons of a 15-30-15 starter fertilizer into a gallon of water (1 tablespoon for vining crops such as melons and cucumbers), and give each seedling a cup of the solution after transplanting.

Growing Watermelons From Seed (Started In Your Garden):

Watermelons are grown from seed. You may be tempted to use seed out of a melon you bought, but don’t waste your time. It is almost guaranteed to be a hybrid.

Hybrid varieties are very special crosses that don’t grow true to type. (You would end up growing what we call pig melons. A melon variety that’s only good for feeding to the pigs…)

Buy your seed, and if possible buy an open pollinated heirloom variety. Because then you CAN use your own seed next year. The open pollinated varieties are also hardier.

You will find a lot more interesting varieties amongst the heirlooms then you can find in the standard collection of you local gardening center.

Unless you have an extremely short growing season, do NOT start your watermelon seed in a pot or punnet. Do NOT buy watermelon seedlings from a nursery.

Amend soil with aged manure, seaweed, and/or compost before planting. Watermelon seed germinates easily and quickly, within a few days. Watermelon plants outgrow the seedling stage very quickly, and they don’t like transplanting. You don’t save much time and you end up with a weaker plant.

Save yourself this totally needless extra work and stick your seeds in the ground, about two cm or an inch deep. (If you have a long growing season, you may want to do several plantings, a few weeks apart.)

Watermelons need a lot of space, so make sure the watermelon patch isn’t near other crops or planted too closely together. Vines are often up to 20 feet in length. As with any vine crop, these tendrils will attach to anything that is nearby, so as an extra bit of caution, try to plant other viney crops such as legumes and grapes away from the watermelon patch. Even if watermelons are the only crops planted, try to give these crops a lot of open space. It is nearly impossible to keep watermelons inside. Even in a sophisticated hydroponic setup, you run risk of watermelons outgrowing their bounds.

Lots of organic matter such as compost or composted cow manure should be included within soils. Organic is best as watermelons will get a greater variety and quality of nutrients than synthetic fertilizers. Aim to balance nutrients if possible, but plant to biofertilize with nitrogen. Blue-green algae or soils that have previously been home to legumes are a great way to ensure that watermelons are getting the appropriate amount of nitrogen. A word about weeds: when watermelons start to display vines it is imperative to keep weeds at bay through shallow hoeing or via a mulch layer.

Watermelons prefer a soil pH between 6 and 6.8. Watermelons need deep, rich, friable soils. To grow watermelons it helps to raise the soil (make mounds or ridges). Raising the soil has several advantages:

  • Growing the vines in raised rows, known as hills, ensures good drainage and will hold the sun’s heat longer. Space the plants about 2 feet apart in a 5-foot-wide hill.
  • A mound or ridge is free draining (melons don’t like wet feet). If you have heavy clay soil, definitely raise the bed.
  • Mounds are also good if the soil is as poor as mine. I just make a mound of good soil with lots of compost in it to grow watermelons. Sometimes I plant them in what’s left over from a compost pile after I used most of the compost.

If you like growing things in neat rows, or if you want to plant a large area, grow watermelons on ridges, like the commercial growers do. If you’re growing in rows, space 6 feet by 6 feet apart.

Rows should be about 2 m (6 ft) apart and the plants spaced at 30 cm/a foot apart. (Sow twice as many as you want, and keep the stronger ones.)

Watermelons like loamy, well-drained soil. Handle them gently when you transplant. After you transplant, cover the plants with row covers to keep pests at bay. You’ll remove the row covers when you see both male and female flowers on the vine.

I prefer growing watermelons in clumps on a mound, in several different locations in the garden. (Mixing things up helps keeping pests and diseases at bay.) If you want several hills together, keep them about 2 m apart.

The mound should be about one metre square and a foot high. Then I plant about ten seeds in it, in three groups of three to four seeds each. The groups are spaced about a foot apart (30 cm).

After a few weeks I can see which watermelon plants grow the strongest, and I snip off the weaker ones, leaving only one seedling in each group. (Don’t pull them up, cut them off. Or you disturb the roots of the others.)

If you have a very small garden but absolutely have to have watermelons, you can try growing them on a trellis. Really. You need a very strong trellis, you need to train them up the trellis as they aren’t climbers, and you need to support the developing fruit so the trellis holds the weight, not the plant. It is a lot of work but it can be done…

Growing Watermelon Plants:

Mulching with black plastic will serve multiple purposes: it will warm the soil, hinder weed growth, and keep developing fruits clean.

Slugs and other seedling chomping critters like mulch and they like watermelons. Wait until the watermelons have outgrown the most vulnerable stage (where a slug can demolish them within minutes). Then mulch the area well.

Keep soil moist, but not waterlogged. Water at the vine’s base in the morning, and try to avoid wetting the leaves and avoid overhead watering. Reduce watering once fruit are growing. Dry weather produces the sweetest melon.

Watermelons have very shallow roots and they need lots of moisture. The soil should never dry out, and mulch helps with that. Watering is very important—from planting until fruit begins to form. While melon plants are growing, blooming, and setting fruit, they need 1 to 2 inches of water per week.

A word about weeds: when watermelons start to display vines it is imperative to keep weeds at bay through shallow hoeing or via a mulch layer. Mulch also keeps weeds down. Weeding could disturb the shallow roots, so it’s better to not let them grow to start with.

Lots of organic matter such as compost or composted cow manure should be included within soils. Organic is best as watermelons will get a greater variety and quality of nutrients than synthetic fertilizers. Aim to balance nutrients if possible, but plant to biofertilize with nitrogen. Blue-green algae or soils that have previously been home to legumes are a great way to ensure that watermelons are getting the appropriate amount of nitrogen.

Watermelons are VERY hungry plants. If your mulch is something like compost or aged animal manures, all the better. (Like all cucurbits, watermelons can handle fairly raw compost and manures.)

Otherwise, feed your watermelons regularly with something like pelleted chook manure or another organic fertiliser. (Ideally you should use a high nitrogen fertiliser in the early stages, but cut back on nitrogen and give them lots of potassium once they flower and fruit.)

If you choose to fertilize (and many do), make sure it delivers more nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium. However, after flowering begins, use a fertilizer with less nitrogen. We like to use liquid seaweed.

When the vines are about 6 and a half feet long, pinch out the tips. It encourages branching. Watermelons need a lot of space, so make sure the watermelon patch isn’t near other crops or planted too closely together. Vines are often up to 20 feet in length. As with any vine crop, these tendrils will attach to anything that is nearby, so as an extra bit of caution, try to plant other viney crops such as legumes and grapes away from the watermelon patch. Even if watermelons are the only crops planted, try to give these crops a lot of open space. It is nearly impossible to keep watermelons inside. Even in a sophisticated hydroponic setup, you run risk of watermelons outgrowing their bounds.

As your watermelon vines grow bigger they will start trying to take over more space. If they start to smother other things you can remind them about sticking to their area by gently moving the tips of the vines, so they grow into the right direction.

Pruning isn’t necessary, but vine productivity may be improved if you do not allow lateral (side) vines to grow and stick to the main vine. When the plant is young, just cut off the end buds as they form (before the side shoots become vines). You can also pinch off some blossoms to focus the energy on fewer melons (though it’s a challenge to kill off a potential fruit).

Watermelon Flowering And Fruiting:

Vines produce male and female flowers separately on the same plant. They often begin producing male flowers several weeks before the females appear. Do not be concerned if the male flowers fall off. The female flowers (which have a swollen bulb at the base) will stay on the vine and bear fruit.

The smaller male flowers appear first. The female flowers are much larger (see the photo) and you can’t miss them.

Blossoms require pollination to set fruit, so be kind to the bees! If you don’t see any it could have several reasons: too hot, too cold, not enough water, not enough nutrients… In any way, it means the watermelon plant isn’t happy.

If the plant does produce female flowers but the little fruit at the base of it shrivels up and dies, then the flowers are not getting pollinated. Watermelon flowers are insect pollinated. If you suspect the insects aren’t doing their job, you can do it yourself, just to be sure.

Hand pollination is best done early in the morning. Pull off a few male flowers and remove the flower petals. Then brush the pollen laden stamen against the stigma in the centre of the female flower, so the pollen sticks to it. Easy.

The first few female flowers on each branch will give you the best fruit.

To grow them as large as possible you can pinch out the tip of the branch after a couple of fruits have set (are starting to swell up). As fruit is ripening, prevent rotting by gently lifting it and putting cardboard or straw between the fruit and the soil.

But this isn’t an essential step. You can also just let them go…

Problems When Growing Watermelons Pests/Disease:

Watermelons are vulnerable to cucumber beetles and vine borers. These are easily controlled through insecticides such as Sevin or use of Bacillus thuringensis, if one prefers an organic approach. Once again, organic management is healthier for the crop and soil in the long-term. It is also possible to prevent infections through floating row covers, but should be removed before pollinating insects start to reach flowers.

The biggest watermelon pest are the leaf eating beetles (they damage the flowers, too) like spotted and striped cucumber beetles, pumpkin beetles with or without dots, whatever you want to call them.

Those orange things…

They all look similar and all do the same: chomp away on your watermelon plants

However, if they become a real problem it is mainly a sign that your watermelons are stressed.

List Of Pests And Diseases For Watermelons:

Anthracnose is a general term for a variety of diseases that affect plants in similar ways. Anthracnose is especially known for the damage that it can cause to trees. Anthracnose is caused by a fungus, and among vegetables, it attacks cucurbits.

Anthracnose can survive on infected plant debris and is very easily spread. Like rust, it thrives under moist and warm conditions and is often spread by watering.

Identification-How To Identify Anthracnose Disease:

 

 

 

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