About Watermelon: Watermelon is originated in Africa near the Sahara dessert. It has been cultivated by humankind for more than 4000 years. Watermelon loves hot temperature and does not tolerant cold temperature well. Selecting the right varieties to grow is the key to grow watermelon successfully. Watermelons take anywhere from 85 to 110 days to mature. For most home gardeners, growing the short maturing type of watermelons is a good choice. There are many different varieties to choose from when you grow your own watermelon. You can choose different watermelons to grow, there are yellow ones, dark green ones and the regular green watermelons. The flash of the watermelon also come in different colors. Watermelon can survive between the temperature range of 50F to 104F, with the optimum growing temperature between 77 to 86 F.
Directions for Growing:
1. Soil Preparation: Select a sunny spot in the garden. Watermelon likes well aerated soil, turn the soil over and loosen up the soil, then add 3" of compost and mix it into the soil. Push the soil together to form a mound for the watermelon to grow. Space the mounds 5-6 feet apart. Lightly scatter a small amount of all-purpose fertilizer and some dolomite lime and work the them into the soil.
2. Direct Sowing: Sow watermelon when soil temperature stabilizes around 55F. You can raise the soil temperature by as much as 10F by covering the sowing site with a 6-mil clear plastic sheet a few days before sowing. Place 2-3 seeds every 10”, cover with 1-2” of soil and water well. If a plastic sheet is used to warm the soil temperature, cover the sowing site back up until the seeds germinated. Direct sowing is a preferred method for beginners. It takes about 10 days for the watermelon seeds to germinate. Leave 1-2 seedlings per mount.
3. Start Seedlings Indoors: The advantage of starting the seedlings indoors is that the seeds can be germinated at the optimum germination temperature of 75-80F. Transplant the watermelon seedlings to the garden when soil temperature is stabilized at 60 F. The disadvantages of growing seedlings inside are (1) the the extra time and effort involved for taking care of the seedlings and (2) the roots of watermelons are fragile and easily damaged when transplanting.
4. Caring for the Plants:
- Watering: Watermelon in seedling stage needs to be well watered until the seedlings are well established. Water as needed later on.
- Weeding: Because watermelon seedlings are small in the early stage, the space between the watermelons needs to be weeded frequently. It is easier to remove the weeds when they are small, if allowed to grow .
- Fertilizing: During the growing season side dress (applying fertilizer on the side of the plants) the plants a couple of times, water well after each application.
5. Harvesting: Estimate the maturity of watermelon by timing how long since the blooms first appear.For the early maturing varieties watermelons are ready to harvest approximately 28-30 days after the blooms appear. Check the maturity of watermelons by check the appearance of the tendril by the stem of the melon, when it dries up and turning brown, the melon is ready to be harvested.