The first icebox watermelons were introduced to the United States more than a half century ago, but only began to be readily available during the last part of the 20th century. These watermelons are preferred by many consumers because of their compact size, which makes them easy to store in an icebox. Growing your own icebox watermelons at home is easy to do, and will ensure you will be able to enjoy this juicy summer favorite.
Purchase a variety of icebox watermelon seed. Pick Blacktail Mountain, Orchid Sweet, Southern Light, Early Crimson Treat or Navajo Sweet if you want an eight- to 10-pound watermelon. Choose Yellow Dell, Red Doll, Petite Perfection, Little Boy or New Queen if you would like a watermelon under eight pounds.
Begin seeds indoors three to five weeks before the first frost. Place a seed into a seed starter kit filled with potting soil. Place one seed in each compartment, and cover it with soil to a depth of one inch, then water. Place the lid on the seed starter kit and place it in a sunny window.
Plant the seedlings in your garden one to two weeks after the danger of first frost. Choose an area with full sun and well-drained soil. Till the garden spot with a rototiller to remove weeds and grass from the soil.
Rake the area with a garden rake to remove weeds and grass. Mark rows with a garden hoe by placing the edge of the hoe at the beginning of the row and dragging it in a straight line to the opposite end of the garden, keeping the depth of the row three to four inches. Mark subsequent rows six feet apart in width.
Plant the seedlings one to two weeks after the danger of the last frost has passed. Dig a hole one to two inches deep with a garden trowel. Place the seedling in the ground so the roots are below ground level, then cover the roots with dirt. Plant each seedling three feet apart.
Water the watermelon seedlings with a watering can or garden hose. Start at the outside edge of the vine and work toward the base of the plant. Soak roots heavily with water every day or twice a day if you are experiencing extremely dry conditions.
Add a layer of pine bark, wood chips, leaves or pine straw around the watermelon plants. Place a three- to four-inch layer of material around the plants to conserve moisture and control weeds. Place a one- to two-inch-thick layer in between rows.
Harvest the fruit 65 to 75 days after planting. Check for fruit that is around six to 10 pounds, leaves that are deep green, and fruit that sounds hollow when it is thumped. Pick fruit at least twice a week by twisting the watermelon until it breaks free of the vine.