How to Plant Sugar Babies in a Raised Bed

Overview

The sugar baby watermelon is an early producing heirloom variety that has red flesh and grows to almost 10 pounds in size. Sugar baby is an abundantly producing watermelon that is considered an "icebox" type because of its compact size. The rind is tough yet thin and very dark green in color. The flesh is firm and sweet and contains small brown seeds. The Local Harvest website says sugar baby is the "perfect size for a picnic."

Step 1

Start seeds indoors three weeks before your projected final spring frost. Fill small pots that have drainage holes with your potting soil and then make holes ½ inch to one inch deep for each seed. Plant two or three seeds in each pot and keep your pots in an area that has a temperature between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Also provide full sun all day for the best results. When your seedlings are about two inches tall, thin out the weakest seedlings.

Step 2

Prepare raised beds while your seeds are starting to grow. Watermelons do well in "hills" that are about six feet from each other, which will allow the plants to ramble. To make raised bed hills, dig out a circle of soil about four feet in diameter and six to eight inches deep, and then pile the soil in the center. Spread a three- to four-inch layer of any type of compost on top, and dig it in.

Step 3

Transplant your young sugar baby watermelon plants to the raised hills after your final spring frost and when the plants are three weeks old. Plant three or four seedlings in the top of each hill, spaced an equal distance from each other. If you have clay soil, spread black plastic film over the hills before you plant---cut small holes for each plant and then set plants into the soil that is surrounded by the plastic. If your soil is sandy loam, you needn't use the mulch.

Step 4

Fertilize newly transplanted sugar babies with a starter fertilizer. You can use any complete fertilizer containing nitrogen and phosphorus or purchase a plant food that is specially formulated for promoting good growth in young plants. When your plants have been in the ground for six weeks, you can give them a feeding of any balanced fertilizer.

Step 5

Water your sugar babies by flooding the "moat" around each hill once every week or 10 days. They have a deep root system and do not require large amounts of water.

Step 6

Control cucumber beetles by hand picking. If the infestation is severe, check with your county's agricultural extension office for their recommendations on appropriate pesticides. If you cover your plants with a floating row cover when you first plant your sugar babies, cucumber beetles will be denied access. Remove the cover when your plants begin to form blossoms.

Tips and Warnings

  • Older, larger sugar baby seedlings do not respond as well to transplanting as do younger, smaller plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Small pots
  • Potting soil
  • Compost
  • Shovel
  • Black plastic film (optional)
  • Floating row cover (optional)

References

  • University of Illinois Extension: Watermelon
  • Pennsylvania State University: Starter Fertilizer
  • Local Harvest: Heirloom Sugar Baby Watermelon

Who Can Help

  • University of Illinios Extension: Spotted and Striped Cucumber Beetle
  • Backyard Gardener: Citrullus lantatus (Sugar Baby Watermellon)
Keywords: sugar baby, watermelon growing, plant sugar babies, plant in raised beds, sugar baby watermellon

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.