How to Grow Watermelon Plants

Overview

If you were to ask adults and children what their favorite garden summer treat is, most would probably answer "watermelon!" Watermelon is a symbol of summer fun, barbeques and cookouts and county fair watermelon-eating contests. If you tend to eat a lot of watermelons during the summer season and don't mind doing a little gardening, try growing your own watermelons. You can start plants indoors from seed, or purchase plants already started to put straight into the ground. By growing your own you will not only save money at the grocery store, you will also find every bite a bit more satisfying since you grew it yourself.

Step 1

Get a jump start on the planting season by starting your watermelon seeds indoors four weeks before the last expected frost for your growing area. Soak your peat pellets until they swell, then let them dry out for eight hours. Add a watermelon seed to each pot, and poke some of the dirt back over them until they are 1/2 inch deep in the soil. Place the peat pellets in a warm location, and set them in a bright sunny window once they sprout. If you purchase pre-seeded watermelon plants, go straight to step 2.

Step 2

Select a site for your watermelon plants that receives full sun and has good soil drainage.

Step 3

Till the soil 6 inches deep, and add a 2-inch layer of composted material or manure to it. Till the compost into the soil. Rake your soil into 4-foot-wide hills or mounds.

Step 4

Plant two seedlings per hill, spacing them 3 feet apart. If you have more than one hill, space the hills 6 feet apart. Once planted, water the soil around the watermelons until it is moist to 3 inches deep.

Step 5

Cover the soil with black plastic weed mat or a 1-inch layer of straw as mulch. This will help keep moisture and warmth in the soil.

Step 6

Fertilize with a commercial high nitrogen liquid fertilizer during the early growing phase, and then switch to a high potassium liquid fertilizer once the plants have flowered. Liquid fertilizers are available at any lawn and garden center. See the package directions on your particular brand for the amounts to use.

Tips and Warnings

  • Make sure your watermelon is ripe before you pick it, as it will not continue to mature once it has been pulled from the vine.

Things You'll Need

  • 3-inch peat pellets
  • Plastic tray
  • Watermelon seeds or seedlings
  • Rototiller or shovel
  • Rake
  • Black plastic weed mat or straw

References

  • Organic Gardening: Grow Juicy, Sweet Watermelons
  • University of Missouri Extension: Starting Plants From Seeds
  • Tropical Permaculture: Growing Watermelons
  • University of Illinois Extension: Watch Your Garden Grow: Watermelon
Keywords: growing watermelon plants, starting watermelon plants, raising watermelon

About this Author

A freelance writer for more than 12 years, Traci Vandermark has written extensively on health and fitness topics. She is a student of health, fitness and nutrition at the International Institute Of Holistic Healing, certified by the American Association of Nutritional Consultants. Her articles have appeared in Catskill Country Magazine, The Lookout Magazine, Capper's, Birds and Blooms and Country Discoveries, to name a few.