Celebrate summer with a chilled watermelon, perfectly refreshing on a hot and sunny day. Instead of buying watermelons in the grocery store, grow your own fresh melons from a backyard watermelon plant. The right management and planning, such as choosing the perfect planting site, will help you grow a bountiful harvest of these fruit.
Gardeners have dozens of options when choosing the type of watermelon to plant. Varieties can be separated into early harvest cultivars, which are ready for harvesting within 75 days of planting, and main-season varieties that take 85 days to produce mature fruit. Some watermelon varieties are better for backyard gardeners than others. The University of Illinois recommends Sugar Baby and Yellow Baby for early season varieties, and Charleston Gray and the Sangria varieties for main-season watermelon plants. If you want to grow seedless watermelon hybrids, some of the best options include the Cotton Candy and the Queen of Hearts varieties.
Watermelon plants are very frost sensitive. Wait to plant the watermelon seeds until the outdoor daytime temperature is a minimum of 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a nighttime temperature of at least 65 F, according to Ohio State University.
Watermelon plants thrive in loose, sandy soil, according to the University of Kentucky. If your garden only has heavy soils, mix in aged compost until the loam is loose and crumbly in texture. Watermelon plants also need full sunlight.
Directly sowing the watermelon seed into the outdoor soil is the most common method of planting watermelon, according to the University of Kentucky. Bury each seed an inch into the ground. If you're growing more than one watermelon plant, space them apart by 6 feet. If you're planting rows of watermelon, separate the rows by 10 feet.
Starting the seeds indoors for transplanting is an alternative to direct seeding and gives gardeners a head start on the growing season. For the best results, start the seeds approximately three weeks before the outdoor temperature warms up enough to support watermelon growth, according to the University of Illinois. Seeds can be sowed in pots or placed in moist peat pellets.
A single watermelon plant will grow approximately two or three watermelons, according to the University of California. Plant the number of watermelon plants that you need for the number of watermelons you want to harvest.
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