Sugar Baby Watermelon seedlings

yiplaApril 24, 2007

Hello,

I've just started gardening, and I planted a few sugar baby watermelon seeds from packet on April 2nd. It seemed like they might be a little slow? I've kept them on my windowsill so far, and I'm wondering if they are growing normally. Here is what they look like:

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raisemybeds(SouthernCT)

Hello - you are in my zone. Your seedlings look leggy. That means they are stretching to get the light, which produces a weaker, inferior seedling. I also will be growing Sugar Baby again this season, as it did so well last Summer. Watermelon can easily be started right outside when the weather is warmer - it comes up quickly. If I were you I would plan on waiting a few more weeks and then starting from seed out in the garden.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 6:09PM
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Violet_Z6(6a)

They look like the window sill is not enough providing light because they're looking "leggy" (the stem is thin and is extremely long).

Try using a grow light or putting them outside during the day if it is 60 degrees or above.

Here is a photo of a healthy watermelon seedling:

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 6:11PM
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yipla

raisemybeds, When did (when will) you plant your seeds outdoors last year (this year)? I had thought it might already be too late. And, the seeds took 12 days to germinate. Do yours take that long?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 6:23PM
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yipla

Also, Violet, you say put them outside when it is over 60 degrees outside. Does this mean 60 degrees minimum, at night too? Will they die if it is below 60 degrees at night?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 11:49PM
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Violet_Z6(6a)

yipla,

Good question. Watermelon are native to Africa and thrive in a warm, dry climate with a long growing season. The optimal growing temperature for melons and watermelons is 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Melons and watermelons can be transplanted when the soil temperature at the 2-inch depth is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit (which is the specific answer to your question). You can extend your growing season in the beginning by using cloches and black plastic mulch.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 11:05AM
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melanie-germany

well, I think you guys are lucky to have watermelons, my puppy jumped up in my window and decided to have a feast on seedlings...I have to replant ALL watermelons, canteloupes and cucumbers. I'm kind of jealous, good luck to you all though.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 1:24PM
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yipla

Thanks for the help, I will try transplanting my seedlings and also growing from seed directly outside using cloches.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 1:26PM
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kniles38(5)

On top of the leginess, it looks like they are way too close together. The roots grow like crazy and they may already be rootbound. I would move them into a much larger container, since they are still a couple weeks from going outside.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 1:36PM
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raisemybeds(SouthernCT)

yipla - As I recall, I planted the watermelon as an afterthought in late May, with a plastic dome cover sort of half-opened over the planting site to intensify the sun's heat but not too much. It sprouted in about 3 to 5 days. I left the cover on for a week or so, then mulched the growing area and left it alone pretty much. I got 4 melons out of that, and the area is a long thin former flowerbed about 1 foot by 8 feet long. I hemmed it all in with 24" high garden fencing and kept tucking the plant vines inside the fencing when they would escape. Worked for me.

All those curcurbits - watermelons, cantaloupes, squashes, cucumbers and so on, just wait until it's hot outside and plant them right where you want them. End of story.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 8:51PM
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yipla

raisemybeds, that's great help. Did you just plant 1 seed? Or did plant several to see how many would germinate? Also, when were you able to harvest melons and how many melons did you leave on each vine? (Also, because I have never done this I don't know. Does each plant have several vines, off of which 1 melon can grow? Or is it better to leave just 1 melon per plant?) Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 9:03PM
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squiredogs

I was also wondering about the vines. I bought 4 seedlings, and each one has 3 little vines with leaves. Do they count as separate plants? I ask because they are in an Earthbox, and I'm only supposed to have 4 plants. Do I have to pinch each planting down to one shoot or vine?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 7:16AM
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cambse(8 - Renton WA)

yipla,
Plant three or four seeds about 6 inches apart in a square or triangle shape. This is called a "hill". You can actually make raised hills (soil will warm up faster) or you can have flat hills. When the seedings are about 5 inches tall, thin to the strongest two seedlings. Cut the other two seedlings off at their base. Don't pull them up as you might the roots on the seedings you are keeping. Watermelon grow on vines that ramble on for about 15 feet and frequently more. They take a lot of space. I have always let my watermelon grow as many melons as they set. Perhaps in a different climate you need to thin to one or two melons but I never have. The biggest reason I know of to thin to one melon a vine is to attempt to grow a larger melon rather than several smaller ones. Don't water too much after your seedlings have gotten larger, watermelons like it hot and dry.

squiredogs,
Watermelons will grow several vines off of one plant. That is how they are supposed to look. I do not believe that you can grow watermelon in an Earthbox. They require a lot more growing room. If you wish to try, I would only grow one seedling (with all three vines) in a box. I do not really know what you can grow in an Earthbox, this is just my opinion.

Have fun gardening,
Carole

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 2:43PM
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lilacs_of_may

I have my watermelon seedlings under grow lights. All three have sprouted, although they took a while, but they seem to be growing slowly. The zucchini that I planted later already has 3-4 leaves.

I have part of a bed next to the garlic patch where I plan to put my watermelons and canteloupes. It's roughly 6'x6', or maybe 6'x7'. How many melon seedlings can I fit in there? I have three watermelon seedlings and three canteloupe. I've never grown melons before.

I also have another bed 6'x10' that I'd planned to put my five squash seedlings into. Enough room?

What if I put two seedlings per hill?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 3:35PM
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cambse(8 - Renton WA)

You can plant hills 4 to 5 feet apart or single plant spacing every three feet. Thus, you can plant 2 hills or about 4 plants in two staggered rows in your 6x6 bed. With good soil and fertilization you might even grow one more hill or get another two plants in. However, you'll need to allow room for the vines to grow. The vines are not going to stay neatly within their allotted boundaries. Now having said that, there are bush watermelons. They have shorter vines more suited for smaller areas. I've never grown them myself but I've seen seed descriptions. If you've not already started your seeds or want to think about next year you can hunt them down. I know Burpees (not a recommendation!) has a bush Sugar Baby. There are other bush melons also.
Yes, I do feel the squash bed is big enough. I have planted two squash seedlings in a hill many times and had it work out fine.

Carole

Here is a link that might be useful: Burpees

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 4:21PM
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lilacs_of_may

Thanks for the info. I guess I can slop my other couple of melon plants into the squash bed. As you say, I have plenty of room there.

And that's just the measure of the beds. The melons can ramble around outside the beds if they want, as long as I don't get melons squashing my garlic.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 5:30PM
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cambse(8 - Renton WA)

You can always move a vine if it's in the way. Once the melons get fairly large, you are at risk of having the fruit snap off. Support the melons carefully and you'll have no problems.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 6:27PM
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squiredogs

Thanks - I'll keep an eye on their size. I got the seedlings locally. I don't think they are the bush variety, but I kind of wish they were. Might be better for the container growing. It makes sense to use less plants if they have multiple vines anyway.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 6:17AM
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kimmymolina

Hi all newbie here. My sugar baby seedlings are looking leggy. Not sure how to upload images. Do you think I should re pot them in a bigger container and fill the soil up to just below the leaves? They do not have true leaves yet.

Thanks so much!
Kim

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 7:04AM
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dajsnipe

If your still having issues with longer than normal germination times try presoaking the seeds for 12 to 24 hours, it also helps to nick the coat on heavier seeds with a nail file. Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 6:31PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

Kim- If you're plants look leggy then they aren't getting enough light. Transplanting isn't going to help fix this problem and it could be detrimental. The less you disturb cucurbit roots, the better.

What kind of light and how much light are your seedlings getting? What size pots are they in now? And how many seedlings are in each pot?

A leggy watermelon will be fine once you plant them in your garden. It's a vining plant so the elongated stem isn't a problem. But the cause of their leggy-ness needs to be corrected now before they get worse.

On a side note, where you located? I'm curious since you're starting watermelons now.

Rodney

This post was edited by theforgottenone1013 on Mon, Oct 21, 13 at 19:47

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 7:44PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

Deleted duplicate.

This post was edited by theforgottenone1013 on Mon, Oct 21, 13 at 19:49

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 7:45PM
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kimmymolina

Hi Rodney, thanks for getting back to me. I'm located in Australia and we are in the middle of spring now. The seedlings have been getting about 15 hrs of fluoro light but not consistent. They are all in a 2.5" jiffy pots with 3 in each pot. The weather has been about 25-30 degrees and over outside.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 10:32PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

I had a feeling you were in Australia. :) When you say 25-30 degrees, I assume you mean Celsius, if so then that would be 77-80*F. Those temps are fine to plant watermelons outside. Just as long as the lows don't drop below 10*C. Soil temp also plays a factor but I assume the soil is sufficiently warmed. So plant them outside if you want. Just harden your seedlings off before planting.

As for starting plants inside with lights, the length of time seems okay (keep it consistent!) but the light needs to be directly above the leaves of the plants. As close as possible without burning the leaves. A fan blowing gently on the seedlings also helps to make them stockier and less leggy.

And if I were you, I'd do a search here about using peat pots for starting seeds. In theory they sound like a good idea (you plant the whole pot and don't have to disturb the plants' roots) but in practice they don't seem to be. Lots of people have had problems with them. The main issues are that they dry out too fast when starting seeds. They restrict the plants roots when planted whole in the garden because they don't compost quickly enough. And if the rim of the pots aren't completely buried below ground then the peat wicks away the moisture from the roots and dries them out. So cut or tear away the peat pot before planting.

Rodney

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 8:43PM
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kimmymolina

Thanks so much for the info Rodney. I have given the seedlings some sun and they are sprouting their first true leaves!

Thanks
Kim

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 7:37AM
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