Watermelon, the quintessential summertime treat, is a staple for any barbecue, picnic, or family gathering. Its juicy, refreshing taste and vibrant color make it a crowd-pleaser, but have you ever considered growing your own watermelons? While it may seem like a daunting task, the rewards are worth it. Nothing beats the taste of a homegrown watermelon, and with my fail-proof method, you’ll be able to pick them at the peak of perfection.
Many gardeners struggle with growing watermelons, but fear not! With my expert guidance, you’ll be able to overcome common issues such as powdery mildew and lanky vines. Say goodbye to disappointment when cutting into a watermelon that’s not quite ripe or over-ripened. Instead, impress your family and friends with the perfectly ripe, sweet watermelons you’ve grown yourself.
And let’s not forget the fun factor. Watermelon seed spitting contests are a classic childhood pastime, and with your own watermelons, you’ll have plenty of seeds to play with. So, whether you’re looking for a delicious treat, a fun activity, or a gardening challenge, growing watermelons is a perfect choice.
Get ready to enjoy the sweetest summertime delight by learning the easy, never-fail way to tell when a watermelon is perfectly ripe for picking. Trust me, when you grow your own, the taste is incomparable to anything you’ll find in the store. Let’s jump in together and discover the joys of growing and picking perfectly ripe watermelons.
UNLOCK THE SECRETS TO GROWING PERFECT WATERMELONS: TIPS FOR THE ULTIMATE GARDENING CHALLENGE
If you’re an experienced gardener looking for a challenge, growing watermelons is the perfect crop to test your skills. However, it’s important to note that watermelons are not easy to grow, and novice gardeners may want to start with easier crops before diving into the world of watermelons.
Watermelons require exacting water and feeding schedules, as they are heavy feeders with specific water needs. Without proper care, watermelons can develop no fruit, flavorless fruit, or even explode! Additionally, watermelons need plenty of space to thrive, making them a crop that requires planning and preparation.
If you live in an area with a short or cool growing season, growing watermelons can be especially challenging. But fear not, with the right tips and techniques, you can grow delicious, juicy watermelons that will impress your friends and family.
As an experienced gardener, I recommend looking at your first season of growing watermelons as an experiment. Don’t expect to get a bountiful harvest, but focus on learning how to grow them successfully. With this approach, you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
So, what are the magical secrets to growing perfect watermelons? Keep reading for expert tips that will make all the difference. Get ready for the ultimate gardening challenge and unlock the secrets to growing the best watermelons you’ve ever tasted.
1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Before embarking on your watermelon-growing adventure, it’s important to consider your growing zone. Watermelons require a long growing season to reach maturity, typically around 150 days or more. If your growing season is shorter than this, it may be best to choose a different crop.
In addition to a long growing season, watermelons require warm days and nights to thrive. If you live in an area with cool summer nights, your watermelon patch may not do well. Watermelons prefer nighttime temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and thrive in 80-90 degree weather. While it’s tempting to try and trick Mother Nature, it’s important to consider the conditions necessary for a successful watermelon harvest.
If you live in an area with a long growing season and warm temperatures, you’re in luck! You have the necessary conditions for growing juicy, delicious watermelons. With proper care and attention, your watermelon patch will be the envy of the neighborhood.
2. CROP ROTATION IS A MUST FOR WATERMELONS
To give your watermelons the best chance at success, it’s important to choose a growing spot in your garden where cucurbits haven’t been grown in the past few years. This is because watermelons are heavy feeders and need all the nutrients they can get. Growing them in soil that has already been depleted of similar nutrients can start your watermelons out at a disadvantage.
If you don’t have a suitable space in your garden, consider growing your watermelons in mounds in your yard. This can provide the necessary growing space and optimal growing conditions for your watermelon plants.
3. TREAT WATERMELONS LIKE THAT ONE EX
When it comes to growing watermelons, space is an absolute must-have. With their sprawling vines and high growth potential, you’ll need to allocate at least 5 feet by 5 feet of space per plant. This not only ensures that the watermelon has enough room to grow, but it also allows for proper air circulation and sun exposure.
So, before you decide to grow watermelons, make sure you have ample space in your garden to accommodate their needs. If you’re limited on space, it may be wise to consider alternative crops that require less real estate. Don’t let a lack of space dampen your gardening dreams, though. With a little creativity, you can still grow a bountiful garden.
4. GIVE YOUR WATERMELONS GREAT SOIL
Watermelons are often referred to as divas in the gardening world, and rightly so. But, if you give them what they want, they will reward you with delicious, juicy treats all summer long. One of the things watermelons are very particular about is the soil they grow in. So, it’s best to assume that your current garden soil isn’t good enough for them.
A great way to address watermelon’s finicky soil needs is to grow them in a large mound made up of compost, worm castings, sand for drainage, and even blood meal. Yes, you read that right – blood meal. It might sound strange, but it’s a great source of nitrogen that helps the plant grow strong and healthy.
This growing method is especially useful if you don’t have enough space in your garden, as you can build one of these mounds right on top of your existing sod or soil. The mound should be about two cubic feet per plant, with a compost-to-worm casting to sand to blood meal ratio of 6:2:2:1. After creating the mound, make a small crater at the top, about the size of a cereal bowl, and plant your seeds or transplants in it. Mulch around the mound to help retain water.
By growing your watermelon in this way, you’re creating the perfect basin for watering your watermelons right where they need it – directly at the base of the plant. This method also allows the plant to develop deep roots, leading to healthy and thriving watermelons.
5. IT’S ALL IN THE NAME
Watering watermelons can be a bit of a challenge. These juicy fruits are 90% water and require a lot of it to grow well. However, unlike pumpkins and other cucurbits, they can only take up water at the base of the plant, making it crucial to keep the soil around the plant moist, but not too wet.
To avoid powdery mildew, make sure to water deeply, directly at the base of the plant, and avoid soaking a large area around the plant. Water in the morning and give the plant a thorough soaking. Keep an eye on the soil and repeat until it is dark and damp.
But once the watermelon stops growing in size, you need to reduce your watering routine. Too much water at this point can lead to exploded melons or melons that are juicy but lack flavor. Let the top inch or two of soil dry out between waterings to ensure your melons reach their full potential.
If you find water to be labor-intensive, consider installing a drip irrigation system. This way, you can automate the watering process and ensure that your watermelons get the right amount of water without any hassle. With the right watering technique, you can enjoy sweet and juicy watermelons all summer long.
6. WATERMELONS HAVE A BIG APPETITE
Watermelons are famously heavy feeders, demanding large amounts of nutrients to produce their signature juicy fruit. High levels of nitrogen, in particular, are essential to get these diva plants started on the right foot. That’s why incorporating blood meal into the soil mix when planting is a wise move, providing the soil with a direct shot of nitrogen to help those vines grow.
However, as the plant begins to set flowers and bear fruit, it’s crucial to switch to a fertilizer with lower nitrogen and higher phosphorous levels.
This will help the plant channel its energy into fruit production rather than spreading its vines further. Make sure to select a fertilizer with a higher P number in the NPK ratio to support the development of large, sweet, and juicy watermelons. With the right balance of nutrients, your watermelons will thrive and deliver a bountiful harvest.
7. POLLINATION STATION
Ensuring your watermelons develop fruit is essential after all that hard work. To increase the odds of pollination, you can plant flowers like sunflowers or marigolds near your watermelon plants. These flowers attract bees and other pollinators, helping to ensure the successful development of fruit.
However, if you want to be extra sure of fruit development, you can hand-pollinate your watermelons. This can be done using a toothbrush or a small paintbrush. Gently brush the inside of each flower on the plant, transferring the pollen from the male to the female flowers. This helps to ensure proper pollination and increases the chances of fruit development.
8. MELON CONTROL
Plants have a natural inclination to spread out and propagate their species, which may not align with our desire for delicious and plentiful watermelon crops. To achieve optimal results, we need to intervene and help the plant focus its energy on producing quality fruit.
For traditional-sized watermelon varieties, it is recommended to limit each vine to two melons by pinching back flowers and fruit. This allows the plant to efficiently pump water and nutrients from its base to the fruit, resulting in better quality and higher yield. When left unchecked, the plant may struggle to ripen all of the melons, leading to a lower yield overall. Personal-sized watermelons can support up to four melons per vine.
Another tip to increase the odds of pollination is to plant flowers such as sunflowers or marigolds nearby to attract bees and other pollinators. If you want to ensure fruit production, you can also hand-pollinate your watermelons with a toothbrush. By following these strategies, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious watermelons.