Make Room For Sweet, Succulent Summer Fruit!
Subspecies: Citrullus lanatus
Watermelon is a traditional summer and Fourth of July food in the United States. It is a sugary sweet melon grown for its fruit and for its juice. Mark Twain once said of this fruit, “When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat.”
Growing watermelon can be done anywhere with at least 90 days of warm weather in the summer season. The smaller, early maturing varieties will do better in the northern half of the U.S., and most varieties will do well in the South.
Read on for our full guide on how to grow watermelon in your own garden.
Watermelon vines need a lot of space. Plant 5 or 6 seeds per hill, at a depth of 1 inch, with 5 – 6 feet between hills. If planting more than one row of watermelon, space the rows at a distance of 5 feet.
When seedlings reach a height of 6 inches, remove all but the two most vigorous seedlings from each hill. If planting transplants there should be 2 -3 feet between seedlings and 3 – 5 feet between rows.
Seeds started indoors for transplants need to be grown in a room with a temperature of 80°F.
If planting seedless varieties for harvest, a variety with seed must also be planted for pollination to take place.
Watermelon plants require the soil to be consistently moist. The hills and rows should be mulched to maintain moisture and to prevent weeds. When fruit is approximately the same size as softball, soil should be allowed to become slightly dry in between waterings.
Watermelon should not be planted in soil that has been used for cucumbers, pumpkins, or other melons in the past 3 years.
For cooler areas with a shorter summer season and in any garden where space is limited, Golden Crown, Sugar Baby, and Yellow Baby are good varieties to grow. They mature early and fruit matures at 6 – 10 pounds.
Gardeners in warmer climates can grow Crimson Sweet, Parker, and Sweet Favorite. These varieties take longer to mature and produce large fruit in the 15 – 25 pound range.
Striped Cucumber Beetles may attack new seedlings. These beetles can be prevented by tenting the plants with a netted material. Be sure to remove the tents before temperatures climb above 80°F.
A direct and steady spray of water will displace aphids from the plants. It is essential to control aphids in watermelon plantings.
Squash Vine Borers can be picked off the plants manually and destroyed. It is important to destroy any leftover plant debris if borers are present.
In addition to using row covers, ground insects can be controlled by trellising the vines of the smaller varieties and supporting individual fruits in slings that are supported by stakes.