Tips: Growing Watermelon in a Small Garden in 5 Easy Steps

Growing watermelons...so easy a kid can do it!
Growing watermelons...so easy a kid can do it! | Source

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

Step one is preparing the garden site. This is definitely a before picture.
Step one is preparing the garden site. This is definitely a before picture. | Source
This is the after photo showing plants in front of and behind our book-loving angel statue, Fred.
This is the after photo showing plants in front of and behind our book-loving angel statue, Fred. | Source
Here's a close-up of the vines running in front of and behind Fred.
Here's a close-up of the vines running in front of and behind Fred. | Source

Growing Watermelons: Sproutlings

The first little watermelon just starting to form.
The first little watermelon just starting to form. | Source

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

Getting bigger and we can't wait to taste them!
Getting bigger and we can't wait to taste them! | Source

Timely Tips

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

Be sure to watch the vines daily and encourage them to run horizontally the length of the garden.
Be sure to watch the vines daily and encourage them to run horizontally the length of the garden. | Source

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."

More by this Author


Have You Ever Tried Growing Watermelon? 11 comments

DonnaCosmato profile image

DonnaCosmato 5 years ago from USA Author

Hello MM and jbrock2041! Yes, we love puttering in our garden and trying different things. This one was fun because we wanted to let our little guy be more involved this year. He did most of the planting and watering...and of course, the eating!

MM, please do let me know how your watermelon planting turns out this year :)


jbrock2041 profile image

jbrock2041 5 years ago from Park City, UT

This is a great hub! If I could grow watermelons this would be a great tool for it. Sounds like you had a fun summer planting watermelons.


DonnaCosmato profile image

DonnaCosmato 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi esmeowl12! I'm glad you found this hub to be inspiring and I hope your watermelon experiment goes as well as ours.

You may want to check back in a few days as I'm planning to publish one that tells how to grow watermelons vertically. It's a great method for space-cramped gardens so it might just be the best answer for you.

Thank you for taking time to write me a note and let me know that you enjoyed it. I really appreciate your kindness.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hello Donna, I love water melons, and you have me all fired up and excited about growing some, thank you for the great instructions, I will let you know how I get on!

Best wishes MM


Esmeowl12 profile image

Esmeowl12 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

I have really wanted to grow watermelons but just haven't had the space. Your hub has inspired me to try next year. I know just the place! Voted up and useful.


DonnaCosmato profile image

DonnaCosmato 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi leahlefler and thanks for stopping by! Thanks for sharing about your experiences; it sounds like we should try the orange tendersweets this year.

Fortunately, we have the room to let them wander and we had not planned to plant any other crops this year. It is awesome to just run out back and grab a fresh melon, isn't it?

I'm really glad that you enjoyed this hub, and I especially appreciate your taking the time to leave me your feedback.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

We had our first try with watermelons last year, too! We grew sugar babies and orange tendersweets - the sugar babies were great because they didn't take up too much room (they're a small icebox variety). The orange tendersweets sprawled much farther, but we still managed to contain them. It was really fun grabbing the melons out of the garden! Great hub!


DonnaCosmato profile image

DonnaCosmato 5 years ago from USA Author

Thank you for your feedback and compliment, mljdgulley354:)

Thinking about what to plant and where to plant it in the upcoming garden is such a pleasant way to combat the dullness of winter, isn't it? I'm glad you found this hub to be useful.

Please let me know what you are planning to grow this year as we are experimental gardeners and are always looking for new ideas.


mljdgulley354 profile image

mljdgulley354 5 years ago

Great hub with good information Donna. I can't wait to get started on our garden again


DonnaCosmato profile image

DonnaCosmato 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi and welcome to my hubs, Durant! This was our first try last year and we were pleased with the results but we really learned a lot as well. I'll be posting some more articles that cover all the mistakes we made so hopefully, others can avoid them, lol. I'm glad you liked this, and thanks for taking time to leave such a nice comment.


Durant profile image

Durant 5 years ago from Canada

Great information. I love watermelons but have yet to try growing them.

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