You could be forgiven for wondering whether anyone outside of very hot and sunny climates would want to know about how to grow water melons. However, providing you can be guaranteed a few weeks of reasonably warm and sunny weather and, ideally, have a greenhouse to start them off in, water melons can be quite easy to grow.
For anyone living in the wetter and generally colder climate areas of North America or Canada the secret to growing water melons is not to be too over ambitious in your expectations of what you’ll be able to achieve. Pretty much the same as growing cucumbers, which by choosing smaller varieties you can get a good yield from, the same is true for water melons.
You won’t be able to grow ones capable of competing with Caribbean grown water melons, but there’s no reason at all why you can’t grow one of the smaller varieties that can mature in less than two months.
If you have a greenhouse then that really is the ideal place to start off your water melons or, failing that, set aside a warm sunny spot in your home. Place one seed in a paper pot two thirds full of a well drained earth.
Keep them warm and moist and sit back and wait until all the frosts have finished. So, by late April, certainly by May, you can then transfer the seedling outdoors into your garden.
Be warned; even the slightest frost will kill your water melons, so be sure the frosts are over. You’ll need the temperature to be averaging 160C (600F) before you can plant them out with any real chance of success.
Moving Watermelons Outdoors
By using paper pots you don’t need to worry about teasing the watermelon plant out of the pot when planting outdoors, as the pot will bio-degrade. The water melons need planting into a well drained earth similar to what was in their pots and away from any winds.
Dig the earth over where they will be planted and add a generous portion of compost, then using a hoe create a small hill to plant to the seedling water melons, planting them at least 1m apart as the foliage can spread out anything up to 2m.
If necessary, re-build these hills with your hoe as the water melons grow, this helps to promote strong roots, keeps the roots well oxygenated and will keep moisture in the earth during dry periods.
The three things watermelons love the most whilst they’re growing are warmth, water and compost. Unfortunately heavy rainfall can wash compost out of the earth, so you might need to feed them extra compost during their growing season.
If it doesn’t rain, after the flowers appear, keep the earth moist by giving them a good watering at least every other day. However, if it isn’t sunny – there’s not much you can do about that one! Constantly weed around the water melon plants as they don’t compete very well against weeds until they’re well established.
Harvesting Water Melons
Depending on the variety you’ve chosen a small 2kg water melon could be ready in 35 to 40 days given good growing conditions; whereas the 25kg whoppers, if you have the weather, will take nearer 90 days to mature. If you tap the fruit and get a dull thump – then it’s ready to harvest.
Photo by General Wesc, Creative Commons Attribution License