Did you know that the United States is the fourth largest producer of watermelon in the world? Although states like California, Georgia and Texas produce tons of watermelon every year the average Joe can have a little trouble with the sweet, juicy crop. The problem is that watermelons grow so large and heavy they must lay on the ground. There, they often ripen on top and rot on the bottom. That’s not good news for the people who labor to achieve the perfect soil mix and crawl around on hands and knees planting and caring for the crop. Want a different outcome? Of course you do! Follow these few simple steps and you’ll have an amazing watermelon garden that you can be proud of – and actually eat!
There are some sad facts in live, and those you cannot change. Watermelons are a large fruit and need lots of time to grow and ripen. If you live in an area of the country where summers are short maybe you should consider strawberries instead! Some types of watermelons are easier to grow than others and some have shorter harvest times than others. At a farm and garden store you can purchase the watermelon seeds and get information on the types that grow best in your area.
While you’re getting information about watermelon types be sure you ask certain questions. Find out if the type you’re considering bears red or yellow flesh. Most people prefer the red flesh watermelons but it’s a personal choice. Some of the large, red varieties include types called Crimson or Family Fun. Smaller, red types include plants called Mickylee and Minilee, Sweet Favorite Hybrid or CalSweet. Popular yellow types include Yellow Baby Hybrid and Golden Crown. Discuss the differences with a local merchant or go online to see pictures and learn more.
When planting the watermelon seeds soil is all-important. Clay soil will yield little, if any, watermelon. Rich, well-draining soil will give you the best results. Mix existing soil with other soils to produce a much better crop. Where you live, and what type of soil you already have, will play a big part in the type of mixture you should have. High phosphorous products will help you grow meaty, juicy watermelons. Most experts suggest you add nitrogen to the soil, 30 days after planting, and again after 60 days. Get more information on soil mixtures from your local gardening store.
Plant one seed every 24 inches and plant each seed about an inch down into the soil, then cover with dirt. Do so when the weather reaches 70 degrees and stays at least that warm. Some seedless types may need an even warmer climate before planting. Watermelons need almost constant sunlight, so the area in which you plant is of the utmost importance.
Some people prefer to start the plants inside, in peat pots, then transplant them to the garden. That’s fine if you don’t allow them to begin vining yet. Don’t rip the roots or otherwise stress the plants. To do so means the likelihood that the crop will not do well. Indoor watermelon plants should be transplanted within 3 to 4 weeks.
As with any plant it will grow much better if you keep weeds away. When dealing with watermelons be careful not to disturb the root system by stabbing into it with a hand trowel. Pull weeds religiously, though, to end up with healthy, juicy fruits.
Many people advise turning watermelons as they grow so that the bottom of the watermelon doesn’t rot. That works in some cases, but more often than not, the turning of the watermelon causes the end of the vine to snap in two. After that, of course, the watermelon is history. Instead of attempting to turn the melons again and again set them up on a small, wooden pallet. A large, flat rock is also sufficient to keep the watermelon off the ground as it grows.
It takes approximately 80 days for watermelons to go from seed to edibility. In some climates, and for some types of watermelon, a few more days may be necessary. There is a curly, tendril, just opposite the vine and melon junction, which will be dried and withered when the melon is ready to pick. After picking the melons they can be stored in a cool place but not for long. Melons have a short life span after they’re plucked.
Many people think, if they’ve grown healthy watermelons in a particular location in the past, that it should become the permanent watermelon patch. Actually, watermelons should be planted in a different location every three years. Although most ordinary garden pests don’t phase the tough watermelon they can be attacked by verticillium or fusarium wilt if melons have been grown years in a row. Grow the healthiest, best-tasting watermelons around by following these tips and reading more online.