Watermelons

hardone14February 10, 2014

What is the best way to grow watermelons?

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farmerdill

Plant them in the ground give them plenty of space. 4-6 feet for the little ones 8-10 for the biguns. They like sandy soil and heat but otherwise are one of the easiest to grow when your season is long enough. In the south of my youth, we had great watermelons from volunteers in a fence row.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 6:21PM
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runswithscissors(MT 4/5)

You didn't say where your zone is. Watermelons are a challenge in my mountain climate. Shorter season and cool nighttime temps make it hard to get a good one.

I grow mine in raised beds, but I'm lucky to get 3 or 4 edible ones by the time frost threatens in the fall. They like alot of water (who would think that by the name, huh?) and I give mine quite a bit of fertilizer, too. If you live in the south, these things pretty much grow themselves.

Your question was kind of generic, so if you're a newbie, type watermelon into the search engine and a ton of previous threads will come up that will answer many of your questions.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 8:18PM
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ceth_k(11)

farmerdill that is one hell of a watermelon hill you got there! I wish i could grow such watermelon in my garden someday.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 5:17AM
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diggity_ma(5 MA)

They're very hard to grow here in New England too. Not impossible, but difficult for sure. We have to pick early ripening varieties if we're to have any luck at all.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 8:31AM
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bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

Laying down big sheets of black plastic will do wonders for you. It heats the soil and eliminates weeds and also conserves water.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 10:57AM
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insteng

Watermelons seem to like a sandy soil. We planted about 5 acres one year and we got good rain that year and had to end up plowing under several hundred watermelons since we couldn't get rid fo them fast enough. We planted Carolina Cross and had several that were 100 lbs.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 12:07PM
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barrie2m_

There are a few things that you can do to increase your chances:
Start by germinating in pots early; I usually prefer peat pots but if you use care in transplanting a removable pot will do. Don't over-extend the pre-transplant time, 3-4 weeks is plenty. I usually plant 4 -5 seeds per pot and germinate at close to 85*F (especially important for the seedless varieties).
The soil should be warm by transplant time. I'd wait a few weeks even after you transplant tomatoes and peppers. Always transplant thru black or IRT plastic if you want a crop before frost. You only need 3-4' wide sheets. Providing water by driptape will help in a dry season but I've gone many years w/o that extra worry.If you want to plant a little earlier lay the plastic film a few days prior to transplanting and cover plants with a well- anchored row cover immediadely after transplanting.
You are better to start with smaller fruited varieties that are not seedless like Sugar Baby or Yellow Doll. They will produce round melons the size of Farmerdill's.
Lastly, watch for diseases. If you plated in a low lying area and you have a few puddling rains Phythoptera can wipe out your crop. Also the threat of Downy and Powdery Mildews are very serious in many areas of the country. Insect pests can also affect your crop so watch for them as your vines grow.
Have fun and invite friends to enjoy the harvest.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 10:49AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I like to start mine just 3 weeks ahead in paper cups with holes poked in. I plant out into black plastic mulch with drip tape underneath and cover with row cover until they start flowering well. Melons are not the easiest thing to grow. It always seems like some plants don't make it. I look under the row cover 2 weeks after planting and add some more seed if necessary. I do 2-3 different plantings to stagger the harvest. Shut the water off once the fruits reach full size so they will be much sweeter. Early on they need lots of water. Do not rush planting. Prep the soil with any kind of manure. They can handle rich soil. I have sandy soil.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 7:58PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

insteng, it a shame you had to bury all of those melons. Maybe next time you could take them to a food bank instead?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 2:09PM
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