Knowing how to grow watermelon is something that would test your commitment to gardening. Although it’s probably one of the easiest fruits to grow, growing watermelon requires a lot of attention and time.
Here are some pointers you need to remember on how to grow watermelon plant this Summer.
How to Grow Watermelon in Your Backyard
When to Plant Watermelon Fruit
Originating in Africa, watermelons are summer plants. One of the vital requirements in growing watermelon is very warm soil. Seeds will germinate properly once the soil temperature reaches at least 70°F or higher.
It usually takes around 80 days for the plant to mature and be ready for harvest. During these times, your plants need consistent heat and sunshine.
What You’ll Need:
- working gloves
- black plastic sheets or black garbage plastic
- potting mix or compost
- Nitrogen-rich fertilizer
- watermelon seeds
- shovel or garden trowel
- pruning shears
Step 1. Prepare the Planting Site
Before planting, cover the soil with black plastic to keep the soil warm. This will help in achieving the required temperature for the seeds to germinate.
Because watermelons take up a lot of space (the vines can reach up to 18-20 feet in length), your planting location should have a good open space. You may also go for small varieties if you have limited space.
Moreover, it would be best to grow watermelon in raised grounds like mounds and ridges. For one, these raised grounds are free-draining which the plant likes very much. For mounds, it should be one foot in height to support a shallow root system.
Lastly, prepare your planting site by mixing it with compost or cow manure. Adding nitrogen-rich fertilizers will help in the first few stages of the plant growth.
Step 2. Plant the Seeds
If you have a short growing season, start with transplants two to three weeks before planting. For areas with longer Summertime, plant the seeds directly into the soil. Bury seed 1 inch into the soil.
Bear in mind that watermelon plants should maintain 1-2 feet distance from each other in a mound/hill setup. For rows and ridges, seeds should be sown 1 foot apart and rows are 6 feet away from each other.
For optimal growth and harvest, I suggest you put in up to three seeds per site, and just weed out the weaker ones later. In thinning out, don’t pull out the seedlings as this may affect the stronger plant. Just cut it off using scissors.
Step 3. Pollinate Female Watermelon Flowers
Each watermelon vine will grow both male and female flowers. The male flower will appear first. The larger female flower will have a tiny swelling at the bottom. This will grow as the fruit while the smaller male flower dies.
In cases where the small swelling dries up, it could mean that the flowers are not pollinated naturally. You can do this manually. Take out some male flowers and remove the petals. Brush the flower’s stamen in the center of the female flower.
Step 4. Harvest!
Now we’ve come to the most rewarding part of this process. The often asked question is, “how would you know if the watermelon is ripe and ready for harvest?” To be frank, there is no definite answer. But there are tell-tale signs, some are:
- Curly tendrils. Some gardeners look at the curly tendrils on the stem. If it is shriveled up and dry, chances are the fruits are ripe already.
- Tapping. Other gardeners prefer tapping the fruit and listen for a hollow low-pitched sound. Compare the sound with the high-pitched unripe watermelon to hear the difference.
- Color. The most accurate sign is when there’s a change in color on the skin that touches the ground. Unripe ones will have a greenish shiny coat while the ripe ones will turn dull yellow.
Watermelon Fruit Care Tips
- Once the plant starts to have flowers, reduce the use of nitrogen-rich fertilizer and introduce potassium to the plant.
- As soon as the seedlings outgrow slugs, apply a layer of wood mulch. The mulch will help keep the moisture and heat in the soil.
- Boron can help make the fruit sweeter.
- Keep the soil wet and moist at all times. Water directly onto the soil and not over the plant as this promotes rotting and diseases.
- Watermelon can ripen in as little as two weeks. Keep the fruit from directly touching the soil to protect it from rot and pests.
Watch this video from Irish Chippy on how to grow watermelon in containers:
As I’ve told you, the process of how to grow watermelon is pretty easy and straightforward. But the amount of care and attention is something that would make your harvest sweeter.
Now is the perfect time to try growing one of the common Summer fruits. Just follow the steps and tips above and you’ll have a great and refreshing season ahead!
What variety of watermelon do you like to grow the most? Let us know in the comments section below.
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