When to Plant
An extended rising season (no less than Three months of heat climate) is had to mature and expand candy watermelons. In brief summer season spaces, a heat indoor get started can depend against the long-season necessities. For those who are living within the North, beginning your watermelon seeds indoors 2-Four weeks ahead of your ultimate frost date will can help you benefit from any heat, sunny days outdoor and nonetheless have the ability to convey them in at night time or on cooler days. Planting too early will reason the crops to expand tendrils or greater than 4 leaves which might reason your crops to have problem atmosphere roots as soon as they’re transplanted to the lawn. Within the hotter southern climates, watermelons may also be direct-seeded within the lawn as soon as soil temperatures have reached a gentle 75-80F.
The place to Plant
The important thing to rising a a success watermelon crop is to supply as many sunny, heat days as imaginable for the rising crops and offer protection to them from chilly temperatures. The extra publicity heat the vines obtain, the extra fruit your crops will produce in the summertime.
Watermelons require complete solar and a variety of warmth. Give your watermelons the sunniest spot to be had with just right air movement. This will likely lend a hand the crops dry out temporarily after a rain to stop sicknesses.
Getting ready the Soil
Watermelons desire well-drained, sandy loam soils with a pH degree between 6.zero and six.5. Soils with a pH lower than 6.zero will produce crops with yellowed foliage and less best possible plant life. Excellent drainage is important for combating illness for your melon crops. In case your soil does not drain water effectively, combine a beneficiant quantity of natural topic into the soil ahead of planting. We propose mounding your soil into hills. Raised hills strengthen drainage and is helping stay the soil temperatures up. For those who water with soaker hoses, mounding up a row (quite than hills) will make watering more straightforward.
Combine in a shovel filled with well-aged manure the place you propose every hill. That is particularly vital if a spring crop has already been planted on this space and brought vitamins from the soil. Mound your manure amended soil into hills about 12″ tall and a pair of’-3′ vast. House every hill 4′-6′ aside, relying on how a lot house your selection wishes. Including 2-3″ of elderly manure or compost ahead of planting your melons will give the crops a nutrient spice up and strengthen your soil’s construction.
Up to I am not partial to plastic, it is nearly a need when looking to develop watermelons in a shorter rising season. That is one thing it is important to come to a decision for your self. Watermelons increase sugar and expand sweetness of their ultimate days of expansion so offering the important heat is important for a rising a just right watermelon crop.
Overlaying your planting space with plastic a pair weeks ahead of transplanting will heat the soil extra temporarily. Relying at the climate, this will can help you transplant your seedlings outdoor as much as 7 to 10 days previous than with out the usage of plastic.
If plastic is left all over the rising season, it is going to scale back flooring rot for your fruit (end result rotting from sitting on soil). Transparent plastic mulch will warmth the soil up 4-Five levels hotter however black plastic will save you weed expansion.
Air flow holes will have to be made for your plastic mulch to permit oxygen into the soil. In case your plastic does not have pre-made air flow holes and it’s nonetheless at the roll, you’ll be able to use a ¾” drill and drill your individual holes during the layers at an 8″x8″ spacing.
Opting for the Proper Seeds
When opting for a watermelon selection, believe how a lot house the plant calls for to unfold out. When you have a restricted rising space, select a bush sort this is extra compact. Some heirloom or extra lively types can absorb 100 sq. ft in step with plant and simplest produce 2-Three end result.
Seeds and Germination
Watermelon seeds germinate optimally between 70 and 90 levels F. At those temperatures, seeds will germinate inside 5-10 days. At temperatures beneath 60F, germination won’t happen.
Getting Began Indoors
Watermelons do not live to tell the tale frost or care for right kind expansion at temperatures beneath 60F. In spaces with brief summers, seeds will have to be began inside of and later transplanted outdoor; be extraordinarily cautious to not disturb the roots. Watermelon crops don’t thrive effectively if their roots are disturbed, even if younger seedlings.
Plant your seeds in unfastened potting soil (now not seed germinating combine because it accommodates no vitamins for the creating seedling).
Plant 2 seeds ½” deep in step with 4″ person pot (I plant 2 seeds in case one seed does now not germinate, and because the seeds grow older I would possibly upload 1 or 2 extra simply to make sure I am getting one just right plant). Watermelon seeds stay useable for five years after your preliminary acquire.
Stay planted seeds in a heat, sunny space (similar to a south-facing window) the place soil temperatures care for between 70F-95F. Use backside warmth if important to care for round 75F soil temperature. As soon as your seedlings are 2″ tall, skinny every pot to the only most powerful plant by way of slicing the opposite seedlings off at soil degree.
Transplanting to Open air
Beginning your seeds indoors can lengthen your melon rising season 2 to Four weeks however melons are specifically delicate to transplanting. If the roots are disturbed, your crops expansion can be stunted.
Vines would possibly not set fruit if they are chilled when seedlings so make sure that the soil temperatures stay stable always and the lawn soil has warmed to 70-80F ahead of transplanting outdoor. Planting in cooler soil can even build up the danger of soil-borne root sicknesses creating.
To stop demanding the roots, 4″ use peat pots or different bio-degradable planting pots as an alternative of plastic seedling pots. Peat pots will decompose temporarily and can help you plant the pot without delay within the lawn mattress while you transplant the seedlings.
Moderately tear or lower out the ground of the peat pot ahead of planting within the flooring to permit the roots to unfold extra temporarily. Be very cautious to not lower the roots. If the roots are too dense (root sure) on the backside, do not lower the ground out as chances are you’ll injury the roots.
Transplants must have 2-Three mature leaves and a well-developed root machine when they’re moved into the lawn. Planting seedlings that experience evolved Four or extra leaves could have problem atmosphere roots as soon as transplanted to the lawn.
For those who lined your soil with plastic to lend a hand convey up the soil temperature, you’ll be able to take away the plastic ahead of planting or go away the plastic all the way down to proceed locking within the warmth. Minimize slits within the plastic each Four to six ft and plant seedlings during the slits.
If you select to go away the plastic down, be sure you anchor it effectively. Plastic that isn’t anchored effectively can blow off right through a windy day, breaking your crops within the procedure. If rising watermelon in rows, house seedlings 18 to 24 inches aside inside the row. House rows Five to six ft aside. In shorter season spaces, simplest plant one plant in step with hill so it is going to now not compete for vitamins with different vines. In hotter climates, 2-Three crops may also be planted in step with hill.
To give protection to your younger crops from wind injury, which is able to retard expansion and scale back the volume of fruit the vine will set, position sizzling caps, plastic tunnels, or a row quilt over the crops the primary 2-Three weeks till the crops have a possibility to higher determine themselves.
Using any such coverings can even offer protection to your crops from cooler air temperatures and early insect pests. Take away the overlaying inside 2-Three weeks to keep away from prime temperature plant damage and to permit bees and different pollinators simple get right of entry to to the plant life.
Direct planting (planting seeds without delay into lawn mattress)
Observe the above directions for getting ready your soil and forming hills. As soon as your hills are shaped and amended with well-aged manure or compost, plant the seeds ½” – 1″ deep, sowing six seeds in step with hill.
When your watermelon crops have reached 2″ tall, skinny seedlings to 2-Three crops in step with hill by way of leaving the healthiest and maximum lively seedlings and slicing the rest crops off at soil degree.
If planting in rows, plant 2 to a few seeds in combination ( a pair inches excluding every different) each 18 to 24 inches inside the row. As soon as the seedlings are 2″ tall, skinny to the most productive plant in step with team by way of slicing the rest crops off at soil degree.
Do not pull weeds up by way of hand. Hand-pulling may disturb the basis programs of the opposite crops and pull them out of the soil.
Making use of 2-3″ of mulch across the plant will preserve soil moisture and scale back weed expansion. Natural mulches like woodchips or straw will also be used when rising watermelons, however don’t practice natural mulches till soils are hotter than 75ºF. Making use of natural mulches too early helps to keep the soil cool, leading to sluggish expansion and shallow rooting.
The roots of melons develop with regards to the skin of the soil, so it is crucial to not domesticate too deeply or too with regards to the crops. Domesticate simply deeply sufficient to chop the weeds off beneath the skin of the soil. Proceed cultivating till the vines start to unfold between the rows. Then pull huge weeds by way of hand.
Common deep watering is particularly an important right through the primary Three to Four weeks that rising watermelon vines are rising for your lawn. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses are one of the best ways to offer watermelons a gentle provide of moisture. Water deeply and sometimes (1-2 occasions a week); supply a complete of 1-2 inches of water a week.
Reduce at the water as soon as the crops have began to set fruit; over-watering will dilute the melon’s sugars, inflicting it to be much less flavorful and lose sweetness. An excessive amount of water may additionally rigidity the plant and reason much less fruit to expand. There’s little or no get advantages in a mild watering that simplest wets the soil’s floor. Deep, rare, however constant watering is very vital particularly within the ultimate 2 weeks of expansion. Over the top watering at this level may cause the fruit to separate.
Significant other Planting and Rotation Concerns
Watermelon does not permit a lot room for partners, and does perfect when it may possibly sprawl out freely with out competing for vitamins with different crops.
You’ll be able to check out planting Marigolds or Nasturtiums within the space which deter beetles, or Oregano which supplies common pest coverage however it’s most likely the vines will smother them if planted too shut. They wish to be in their very own pot or raised mattress, out of the succeed in of the encroaching vines.
As a result of watermelons are in a unique elegance than muskmelons (cantaloupe) and each require the similar care, they are just right partners. Watermelons and muskmelons percentage the similar nutrient necessities and feature the similar watering wishes; and since they’re in a unique elegance, their seeds may not cross-pollinate.
When to Harvest
Ripe watermelon does not slip from the vine when it’s ripe, so it takes a little bit extra expertise to inform when a watermelon is in a position to select.
Use this mixture of signs to test for ripeness:
Tendrils close to the fruit stem have turn into brown and dry;
The fruit floor is tough to touch and the fruit colour is uninteresting;
The ground of the watermelon (the place it lies at the soil) has modified from a mild inexperienced to a yellowish colour;
Search for ‘black sap spots’. Those are led to by way of bees extracting the juice from the melon. If there are a number of beads of arduous black sugars, you already know you have got a candy melon.
Preventative and Herbal answers to Commonplace Pests and Issues
Using row covers will lend a hand save you infestations of maximum pests (see Row Covers, Scorching Caps, & Plastic Tunnels)
Striped and Noticed Cucumber Beetles
Those pests unfold bacterial wilt all over your crop once they feed; they generally tend to assault across the time the crops start flowering. Word: Male plant life will seem first, at leaf joints at the major stem and feminine plant life will seem. About one week later, feminine plant life will expand off of secondary side-shoots.
Your perfect protection towards those pests is to hide your crops with row covers till flowering. The covers will have to be got rid of as soon as the feminine plant life seem in order that the bees can get right of entry to the crops for pollination.
A critical infestation may also be managed with pyrethrins; the pyrethrins are a couple of herbal natural compounds that experience potent insecticidal process.
Aphids are tiny pear-shaped bugs with lengthy antennae that suck sap from the plant, inflicting the leaves to turn into distorted and drop.
A robust spray of water can ceaselessly knock the bugs off your crops. Crushing a number of cloves of garlic into a sprig bottle stuffed with water and spraying aggregate at the crops can ceaselessly deter those pests. Insecticidal cleaning soap, pyrethrins, and neem oil also are efficient natural pesticides for heavy infestations.
Squash Vine Borers
Squash vine borers seem like 1″ lengthy white caterpillars. They bore during the stem of the plant and could also be unnoticeable to the gardener till the vine starts to wilt.
In April (within the South) and in overdue June or early July (within the North), stay a lookout for an orange and black wasp-like moth. That is an grownup borer which lays eggs on the base of the stem right through this time. The tiny orange and purple eggs are laid slightly under the skin of the soil. Take away and weigh down any eggs you’ll be able to in finding.
As soon as the season progresses, stay a watch for access holes on the base of the stems. If the outlet is surrounded by way of a yellow shedding that resembles sawdust, lower a slit within the stem and take away any larvae. An injection of Bt will also be used (Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, is a soil-dwelling bacterium, ceaselessly used as an natural selection to chemical insecticides).
Vine plants that experience not too long ago been transplanted or which were direct-seeded outdoor and not too long ago germinated were identified to all at once wilt and die. Maximum ceaselessly this happens when you’ve got a stretch of four or extra days of wet, or overcast climate with out a coverage over your crops to retain warmth. If soil temperature drops down beneath 60F, the plant roots forestall soaking up water from the soil.
When the solar does reappear, water evaporates from the leaves sooner than the roots take in water, which ends up in surprising wilting and loss of life. To stop this from going down, stay your crops safe when cool rainy climate is expected with the usage of row covers or sizzling caps. In humid climates, watering the roots without delay quite than soaking the leaves is helping save you many commonplace foliar sicknesses.
Maximum sicknesses may also be have shyed away from by way of following those laws:
When rising watermelon select types immune to commonplace sicknesses similar to powdery mold. Wait till the soil has warmed to at least 70F ahead of planting seeds or transplants and stay soil temperatures constantly heat all over all of the plant cycle. Stay seeds and seedling beds wet however now not water logged.
If beginning indoors, plant seeds in 4″ pots or greater to minimize root disturbance and make allowance more space for roots to expand correctly. Transplant seedlings as soon as they’ve 2-Three true leaves. Keep away from over-applying Nitrogen (similar to animal manure). An excessive amount of nitrogen, particularly right through fruit set, can inspire “hole center” and bland taste. Supply just right air motion round crops by way of holding weeds beneath regulate and planting with right kind spacing.
Powdery mold, a fungus, may cause leaves to in advance die, and scale back yield and fruit high quality. Injury can come with brown spots, tattered holes in leaves, sunken brown lesions on vines, and rotted fruit. Powdery mold infections are in most cases led to by way of heat, humid prerequisites (68-81F), or the plant being damp too lengthy from rain or overhead watering.
In heat, dry prerequisites, new spores are produced in leaf spots and will simply unfold illness by way of being blown by way of the wind and infecting different leaves. To keep away from those sicknesses don’t develop melons in a space the place any member of the squash circle of relatives has been grown for three years or extra. Scale back moisture on leaves by way of offering crops with right kind house, controlling weeds, and the use of drip irrigation or a soaker hose as an alternative of sprinkler irrigation. Follow a herbal fungicide when a unmarried spot of powdery mold is noticed. Sulfur merchandise may also be carried out to each the higher and decrease surfaces of the leaves. Take away critically inflamed crops and any particles from the lawn.
Plant illness resistant types every time to be had. Resistance is virus particular and it can be crucial to first decide which mosaic virus is commonplace for your space. A credible seed corporate for your a part of the rustic can have this data. If now not, ask your county extension.
Acquire blank seed from a credible provider. If saving seeds, don’t accumulate seed from inflamed crops. Keep an eye on weeds inside and across the planting space. Particularly perennial weeds that may raise the virus from one season to the following. Keep an eye on aphids and cucumber beetles early directly to stay populations low. If illness seems in a couple of crops, bury or dispose those crops to stop additional unfold of the illness. Wash fingers and gear after running with inflamed crops.
Watermelons will stay within the fridge for as much as one week, however now not simplest will taste and beauty diminish, so will diet ranges. One of the best ways to retailer a watermelon is at a room temperature of 50-60°, similar to a basement. Watermelons will last as long as 2-Three weeks and retain their taste, sweetness and diet. Melon flesh may also be frozen (suppose watermelon smoothie) and rinds may also be pickled.