Tips: Growing Watermelon in a Small Garden in 5 Easy Steps
Step One: Preparation
If you are working in a garden with a small footprint, you need to make every inch count.
Follow these basic tips for growing watermelon in small gardens to get the best yields.
Now, let's discuss a step-by-step way of growing watermelons in tiny gardens. Here's step one:
Use black plastic in the garden bed to warm the soil and speed seed germination, while inhibiting weed growth that robs plants of precious moisture.
Till and prepare the soil, cover and secure the plastic, and then plant the seeds after the last frost of spring.
Sandy loam, or any soil that has been enriched with compost and manure is fine. The black plastic eliminates tedious garden chores like weeding or cultivating the soil.
Author's note: We grew the watermelons pictured in this article in this 8 x 16 foot garden as an experiment in teaching our son to garden. We positioned plants in front of and behind the state of Fred, the book-loving angel.
Next, we trained the vines horizontally in opposing directions. The vines rewarded us with five delicious Sugar Baby melons this season. Now, let's move on to step two.
Getting the Garden Ready: Before and After
Growing Watermelons: Sproutlings
Step Two: Plant the Seeds
Plant the seeds in hills about four feet apart. Put two to three seeds in each hill, and then mound the dirt firmly.
When the seedlings have their first true leaves, thin to the strongest plant. To avoid stressing the root system of the chosen plant, cut the seedlings to be thinned, rather than yanking them out of the ground.
Give the watermelons the most care and attention in this early stage to help them get a good start. Then you can relax, feed, and water them until harvest time.
Growing Stronger Every Day
Tip 1 – Plant bush varieties that produce small fruits. Most types yield sweet melons weighing 2 to 10 pounds, and mature in about 80 days. Try Sugar Baby, Yellow Baby, Yellow Doll, or Honey Heart for best results.
Tip 2 – Why transplant watermelon seedlings when they are so easy to germinate? Just grow watermelon from seed. Choose an heirloom variety, and get the benefit of saving seeds to plant for another crop.
Tip 3 – Watermelon tastes good, and it is good for you. It is a rich source of lycopene, potassium, vitamins C and A, and healthy carbs. Low in calories, but highly satisfying, munching sweet slices of juicy melon is an excellent way to reduce risk of heart disease and some cancers.
Tip 4 - Watermelons grow and mature best in temperatures averaging 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step Three: Feed and Water
Feed watermelon early and often. Buy 5-10-10 fertilizer (or N-P-K for the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium proportions) for optimum watermelon growth.
Watermelon is a heavy feeder and needs a consistent source of water. Water at the base of the plant for at least one-half hour daily while plants are maturing. Once they set fruit, water as needed.
Step Four: Train the Vines
As the vines begin to mature and wander, train them to run the length of the garden, horizontally, in opposite directions.
If space is tight, the vines can be trained to run up a garden trellis, but they will need to tied and the fruit well-supported.
Check the leaves daily for any signs of common watermelon growing problems such as fusarium wilt or striped cucumber beetles.
Train the Vines Horizontally
Step Five Harvest & Enjoy the Watermelons
Bush variety watermelons mature quickly in about 80 to 90 days. A popular watermelon myth is that thumping the melon is a good way to gauge ripeness.
A better way of determining this is by the color of the underside of the melon. When it turns yellow, and the green surface dulls, the melon is ripe.
Test the rind with the tip of a thumbnail; if it resists the pressure, pick it and eat.
By selecting the best varieties, and properly feeding and watering the plants, gardeners of any expertise level can learn how to grow watermelon in small gardens.
If you would like a step-by-step tutorial for growing seedless watermelons, read the hub, "Growing Seedless Watermelon."
Author's personal experience
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