Secrets to growing great watermelon
There is a "Secret" to growing big, good watermelons. Watermelons have the longest taproot of any fruit or vegetable, ranging from three to six feet and with lateral roots as long. In addition to this incredibly long taproot, watermelons "pout".
Here is the way to grow them:
NEVER and I mean NEVER start watermelon earlier than 6 weeks FROM THE DAY THEY WILL GO INTO THE GARDEN. NEVER buy started watermelon plants because you have no idea how old they are. Start watermelons in a large peat cup that can go directly into the ground. If the taproot is disturbed IN ANY WAY, the plant will pout and never recover in time to bear mature fruit.
Using a hand-held post hole digger (you can use an auger on your tractor but holes will need much more growing medium to fill them in) Dig a hole 3 foot deep. Fill the hole with equal amounts of good quality planting soil, sand and peat moss. I also add some OLD well-rotted horse manure because I have plenty of it (I use Miracle Gro planting mix from Walmart).
Set the plants in their peat cups into the top of the hole and fill in around them. For about 2 to 3 weeks, you won't think these plants are doing a darn thing BUT...the taproot is heading down and all of a sudden, the plants will just take off. Water...I have used every method and have decided that using a "weep" hose does the best. I water my plants overnight, every other day. If it is extremely hot, I water every day. I allow each plant and it's runners to get about 8-10 feet long and then I prune them. Watermelons on the ends of the vine will never mature in time and the pruning allows the plant to put the energy into the already formed fruit. Even watering is a MUST because sudden changes in watering is what causes watermelons to crack. Melons are ripe when the two small tendrils closest to the melon on the stem turn brown and the underside of the melon is a creamy yellowish.
I live in northern Wyoming and our growing season averages 100 days frost free (except this year when we had 27 degrees on June 11 and I cried and shook my fist at the garden god.) Last year I produced 75 watermelons from 20 plants that weighed an average of 23 lbs (Had one 72 pounder!) We set out plants May 30 and were eating watermelon by the end of July.
I have grown watermelon all my life and I lived in California until about 30 years ago and there is no better place to grow them then there, but I have NEVER grown watermelon like these. I know it's too late for this year but I seem to never have time to post in the spring.