Growing Great Watermelons
The watermelon or Cucumis
melo/Citrullus lanatus is always a reminder of sunny days and picnics. The
picnic was either in the family backyard or at one of the Conservation areas
around Toronto. Watermelon was messy and best enjoyed
outdoors where we did not have to be concerned about making a mess of either
ourselves, or the area around us: we would be wearing bathing suits, because
swimming was also on the menu and outside. The seeds were part of the
experience. I try not to buy seedless fruit, they are not natural.
Watermelon demands full sun and warm weather. It is best ground in a well-drained soil and is fed with organic mater and that has a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
It will need regular watering so pay attention if it is a dry season.
If you want an early crop, look for a variety that matures within 70 to 80 days and get them started indoors. Here with our short growing season, I usually do not plant any heat loving crops (tomatoes, peppers, for example) outside until around June 15, so I start them indoors about four to five weeks before that date.
Spend time in your watermelon patch keeping an eye out for cucumber beetles which in small numbers can be picked off and disposed into a can of water or squished. Early intervention can prevent a full scale invasion.
When the danger of the last frost has passed it is time to move the watermelon plants outdoors. It is a good idea to have row covers handy just in case the nights, especially early and late in the season are anticipated to be cool.
If you plan to direct seed the watermelons into your garden the sow them rows and space properly or sow into mounded 1’x2’ hills, leaving 2 watermelon plants per hill, with hills spaced at 4-6’.
Watermelon is not only tasty and fun to eat but it is a good source of vitamin C. There are watermelon festivals in many counties in North America where among other events a giant watermelon contest is held. Special seeds are usually used to plant these monsters.
Watermelon is a seasonal vegetable and best enjoyed if grown and eaten or purchased from a grower near you. I find the ones in the grocery store are not only seedless but nearly tasteless as well. So grow your own or buy them in season direct from the grower.
- Bob's Guide to Organic Gardening
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