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growing watermelons for the first time

Posted by vegetarian 6 , NJ (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 6, 06 at 13:20

Hello all,
I am trying to grow watermelons for the first time. I will be setting out some Sugar Baby transplants grown from seed.
Can you please tell me
1) when do you start sowing seeds indoors?
2) can I plant watermelons as an underplanting say with Okra?
3) do the areas where the vines roam need to be mulched?

Any other tips, tricks etc ?

Thanks for all you feedback!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

I like to start seeds indoors 15th - 22 of April [except for my EXtra early ones under plastic for a while].

I don't mulch outer areas of the vines and watermelons will NOT rot from lying on the ground.

I don't think that you would want any competition in your melon patch from other crops or weeds.

Very rich, very deep and loose soils produce the best watermelons. I suggest you especially prepare spots for each melon. Enrichment with WELL rotted manure is good. One thing to try to do is provide a very well drained bed/hill for the melons as they sure hate the cold wet weather that tends to hit sometime in May it seems.

In northern areas I like to add a small sqaure of plastic mulch to give warmth early on.....not so big that rainfall is diminished much.
I tend to add the plastic right after transplanting by cutting a smallish hole in the center and slipping it carefully over the plant. This makes it much easier to set the plant out....first


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

I will also be growing watermelon this year for the first time. My biggest question is, how often should I water them? I plan on growing Golden Midget Watermelon from SeedSaver.org. I am also going to try to grow Blacktail Mountain Watermelon from them too (if they can get me the seeds on time). Does anyone have feedback on either variety?

Thanks for your help.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Wayne, when you start your seeds indoors when do you plant them out? Also, does this timing work for cantaloupes as well?


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

I like to transplant them outside about May15...slightly variable according to weather. Cantaloupes seem to handle early cool weather in May a little better than watermelons.

I tried Blacktail Mt. and both died before fruit ripening....other varieties did ok. Perhaps for a first time watermelon grower you would not have much disease problems. Melons are not like corn for example. I don't have disease problems there year after year after year. But melons are disease prone after the first two years unless if you aren't careful.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

I'm by no means a watermelon expert, but I love them and am getting better at growing them. Last year was my best year ever. My tips:

1) watermelons are a desert plant and send down a long 4 foot tap root, from which other roots branch out. Dig your watermelon area down deep. Last year I dug down 3 feet.

2) soil should be rich. I like a combination of composted horse manure, topsoil, sand, and peat moss.

3) you want a steady supply of water. I use drip irrigation and water 2-4 times per day, depending on the plant.

4) I like to thin to one or two plants per hill, max. You don't want them competing with each other.

5) The variety is very important. My personal favorites are Black Diamond Yellow Flesh and Moon and Stars Yellow Flesh. These have consistently done very well for me. I have not had good luck with the "smaller" varieties. So choose a variety that is supposed to grow to 25 pounds or larger.

6) When it's time for pollenation, make sure you have lots of bees. If you don't, you can successfully hand-pollenate.

7) Do not water with an overhead method -- you could have fungal problems.

8) I don't mulch. I found that it attracted more bugs who liked to hide under the mulch than actually providing any benefit.

9) I start my seeds in March and transplant out end of April. Since you are in New Jersey, I'd recommend starting early and transplanting out as soon as the weather is favorable. You don't have a long growing season and watermelons need lots of heat to ripen.

10) There are a number of signs for picking a ripe watermelon. Post back here in July and we can start a thread on that -- happens every year !

Best of luck. A home-grown watermelon absolutely can be the best you've ever had.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Wayne,

I like those ideas. I too have learned about watermelons the hard way....mostly by what hasn't worked well first. I had too many years of frustration with football and soccer sized fruit that were not usually so good in taste and texture plus more wilt than a person could believe. Oh yeah, I hit paydirt with a melon or two every few years!!!

But for me early transplants are the way to go.......of course into that deep rich soil of topsoil, peat, sand, and horse manure!! I really like having home grown melons all through July, August, and September. While the seedless are getting better, I can get even better tasting ones plus lots of variety in my home raised ones. I especially like Raspa, Rojo Grande, SF790 HQ, Orangeglo, and Tiger Baby [early one].
And Wayne, I just cannot understand this 4 foot taproot thing. I have pulled up a lot of roots to dispose from the area the vines, fruits, and roots for disease preventing purposes and I never find that root. Mine go horizonal in the top 6 inches for the main part. Perhaps some extra healthy ones direct seeded in deep sand that is a bit dry and the season long might make that root...?? Any way I am getting some great fruits without that big root.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Wayne and Wayne, Slightly OT, but would you recommend growing cantaloupes (< 4 lbs or so) on a trellis and, if so, what type of construction? I'm really tight on space and have some Cherentais, Winter Yellow Canary, Emerald Gem and Noir Des Carmes seeds that I'm thinking of growing this year.

Thanks.
Mark


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Mark,

I have grown fastbreak cataloupe on a trellis the last couple of years. I bought 1/2" electrical conduit in 10' lengths, and spaced them 4 feet apart. I pounded the conduit about 3 feet into the ground, and used elbows to attach the top piece. I have used pantyhose to support the canatloupes in the past, but this year i'm going to use nylon netting. I hope this helps.
James


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Mark: I too trellis *most* of my canteloupe. One thing I found last year was that mice were gnawing at my Vert Grimpant which wasn't trellised. I promptly put up a bunch of "mini-trellises" to get those babies off the ground. Problem solved.

I have limited space and every inch counts. I find that it is easier to keep track of the melons if they are trellised. It is too easy to break a vine by stepping on it if you let the plants sprawl. I also trellised Honeydews and Prescott Fond Blanc last year. I use a fabric netting that I buy by the yard at a local fabric store and make simple slings for the melons when they are tennis-ball sized. I secure the slings to a standard wooden trellis using nylon "tie-wraps" (zip-ties). The melon then grows into the sling; I take the slings down after picking the melon and store for next year.

I don't trellis watermelons but I do carefully move the vines around as they are growing to leave areas where I can safely step to inspect and pick melons.

Wayne_5: I was at first skeptical about the tap root when I read it but I did find over the last couple of years that the roots did extend down very deeply on my watermelons. I kept the soil extremely loose though -- so loose that if you stepped on it you would sink at least 6 inches. Of course by the end of the season it had sunk in considerably.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Wayne and Wayne: Thank you for the info. It is very helpful.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Great information Wayne and Wayne! Thank you.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

What is the best fertilizer for watermelons (Nitrogen,phosphat,potash ratio)?


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

fertilizion ratio........don't know. A stab at it....8-10-10. Now where do you find that? I usually find 12-12-12!!


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

My daddy alway's told me , "no more than 3 per vine", all others were to be pinched off,,, "no more than 3 per hill", all others were to be pinched off, and no more than 3 in 3 feet of one another, you get the jist!!! He grew the most fabulose melons I've ever had.. Plus, he waited till the canope died, till the vines were toast, he said it made the melons sweet,.. we picked, enjoyed, and threw the vines in the compost pile. I think the real secret was waiting till the canope died


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Wayne 5, I will link below an excellent and well regarded study made years ago on root development in crops which is surprising to many. You have to scroll way down to Chaper XXXI to find Watermellons.

I love watermellons and do not really have enough room and sun in my garden to expect much, but cut way back on peppers and Okra this year to squeeze in three hills. I have a Tom Watson and a Crimson Sweet in one hill and two hills of Orange Glo. One Tom Watson is growing pretty fast and looking encouraging, a couple of Crimson Sweets are coming along, one larger than a softball on the ground and a smaller one just popped up on a vine climbing on the chain link fence, but the Orange glo have had blooms but no mellons set thus far. I think that I can make a sling for the one on the fence since they do not get very big.

Do you guys find that most of the mellons set on the vines are some distance from the hill ?
Bill P.

Here is a link that might be useful: Root development in crops


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Thanks, Bill for the nice link about root development. I have viewed that a couple times before.
"Although the main roots and their numerous horizontal branches were confined almost entirely to the surface foot of soil,".................
That lifted phrase says it all to me. Yes there is small and minor rooting down deeper. I have pulled more melon roots than about anyone...to help protect against soil fungals.

Orangeglo is slow to germinate and slow to get going, but oh then!

I find that the female blooms are always further out on the vine than the male blossoms...about 6 foot.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

I had good luck with Sugar babies last year. This year I am trying Black diamond and Carolina cross.
Sugar baby pic.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Dang Frugal, that is like lookin at the bones after most all the turkey is gone! ":^)

Perhaps we need to figure a way to tie a little disclaimer to your pictue or post some kind of warning. See pic. linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Overdose


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Hey gonefishin, that's not me in the pic,really ,but I know the way that man must feel!!! Now you see how I felt looking at those nice fish pics you had,VERY nice, and I am still hungry for some good catfish!About the melons, I still have a hard time telling when they are ripe so I try to remember which ones have been there the longest and do a feild check once in a while.
dead tendrills
little ridges
creamy on bottom
slightly flattened
broom sraw on top
X # of days on the vine
ETC.

OR whack it open and have a look?
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

I wish that picture was lighter, but it looks like some good mellons and maters.

They say all those things are indicators of ripeness, they also say that thumping them to determine when one is ripe is an art. That may be the closest I will ever come to being called an artist. ":^) It just takes some practice, but I am very seldom wrong. It can even indicate when one is over ripe. When you pass a bin of watermellons in a grocery store, thump those on the top of the pile and listen to the difference in how they sound. Pick the one with the dullest thud, (rarely are any of those over ripe) not the tight ringing type sound. Thump it again when you start to cut the one that you selected so that you can remember what it sounded like in relation to how ripe it is. Like every thing else, nothing is fool proof and there are always some variables involved, but I would not mind betting some money on my selection. The odds would be much greater than those at Vegas or on one of them boats.
":^)
Bill P.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

I went out to take the last picturepretty late and my motion sensor light on the house would only stay on for three seconds at a time,[another good deal clearance rack,haha], I leaned over the fence to activate it, got ready to shoot,and it went off;total darkness. After three tries I took a quick pic. If my neighbors were watching me do this they probably thought I had lost the rest of my mind!!!
I love the digital camera,because a picture truly is worth a thousand words. At the rate I type ,(peck),It would take a long time for that many words.It is fun to have my daughter teach me how to do stuff on the computer, well fun for me anyway.
How much water do yall give your melons? Some of mine are ripe ,some are not.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

I bet that was quite a show, frugal. ":^)

I have not tried to measure the water that I give mine, acting on Wayne's suggestion, I try to keep them hydrated. I have soak hoses and use a steel rod probe to check the depth of moisture in the garden to know when to run those soak hoses. Plus, on these hot days, I usually spray the crown of the hill with a garden hose in the heat of the day. Mine seem to be growing fast, when you compare the size and dates on the pictures below, with those above in the thread. The crimson sweets like the one in the sling on the fence has a couple more on the vines, but they are on the concrete block along the bottom of the fence and on the ground, linked below.
Bill P.

Here is a link that might be useful: One on the ground


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

What's up with the pics on the "link"? Does that help people download stuff faster? Could you give me a way to do this? My pics are on photobucket now.As always any help is appreciated.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

I think he did that so as not to "weigh down" the thread with too many pictures. Although I have to say, some of the pictures in this thread, while fastastic to look at, are nonetheless about 5 times the filesize they need to be. I know it's inconvenient to rescale images but there are still a few dialup users out there...


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

I think that it does Gary, because they do not load until someone clicks on the link, but my knowledge and expertiese is pretty limited on that kind of stuff.

To do one like I did in the posting above, you just select the top line of text beneath the picture that you want to link to which is titled URL, copy and paste it into the first little box beneath the big box where you type your posting, then type what ever you want to call it in the next little box and click on message preview. I have noticed that when you start a new thread, those little boxes are not there with the initial posing.

Some people are able to imbed the links in the regular text of the typed message, I have the info somewhere but have not taken the time to try to teach this old dog another new trick. ":^) I have a bit on my plate right now and figure that I may be able to get around to it someday.
Bill P.


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RE: Picture size

Which ones are you talking about Feldon. I have found that after I upload my pictures to Photobucket, they automatically resize them as they are uploaded. THEN I edit each one and select 75 percent of the size that they reduced them to and resize them down a little more so that when they are posted, one does not have to scoll back and fourth horizontally to read the associated text. If I take them down to 50 percent, they look too small. The ones that are linked usually have a little magnifying glass with a + in it when you run the cursor over the picture, that you can click on to enlarge the picture.
Bill P.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time


389kb (75 seconds on dialup)


72kb (17 seconds on dialup) -- re-compressed with an image viewer

I don't want anyone to feel self-conscious about posting pictures. I really love it when people do and I have gone out of my way to post pictures wherever I can. Just saying if there's a quality setting in Photobucket that reduces the image QUALITY without reducing the image SIZE, I would try it and see what it gives you.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Bill your pictures are fine. :)
Your watermelons are coming along very well. Look at the leaf size on that crimson sweet vine. So what was that you were saying about no luck with watermelons? Ringer.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

I'm also new to growing watermelons this year. I planted Crimson Sweet, and my plants are doing very well. I have 8 plants that are around 7 feet long each with a total of 12 melons growing so far.

I planted them from seed in a bed of manure compost at the beginning of June. I fertilize weekly with a liquid formula of 18-18-21. Also, I try and water every evening, but lately I have fallen short of this goal.

Should I water them more often? I have heard of people watering their plants twice daily without any harm. The only thing I worry about is root rot or disease. We have only had around 1 inch of rain in the past 30 days so the only water they get is from me. How often, and how much should I water?


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

i planted sugarbaby watermelons from seed the first week of june, and they are doing great, several are 10ft long, and have several melons the size of tennis balls. didnt ammend the soil much, just put in some topsoil and some time release fertilizer, watered them once a day, kept the water on them until the water just started to puddle on the soil, only took a few seconds for the puddles to disappear, but thats just how i do it. i'm sure if you read more of the posts you'll get an idea of how much to water. From what i've read here and elsewhere the average should be about an inch or two a week.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

I planted a watermelon from a seedling and initially it appeard to die. I discarded the info that cam with the plant. However, it came back to life and has spread all over the place. I have a lot offlowers and quite a few small watermelons. One of the melons is a little larger - currently about the size of a cantelope. The others are about the size of golf balls and tennis balls. How long does it take to get to full grrowth and how will I know when it is ripe? Also, I do not know what kind of melon I have. It appears that as they grow it is staying round and it is a lighter shade of green with dark green stripes. Can you help me?


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Watermelons need 2 inches of water per week, which is 130 gallons per 100 sq ft.

Gonefishing, your watermelon overdose photo darn near cost me a keyboard. I choked on my coffee and blew it out my nose and mouth and all over my keyboard. Hurt pretty bad too. I found it rather ironic that you used a photo that should have had a warning label, as an example of a warning label.
If anybody has allergy problems , squirt some hot folgers into your sinus'. Works pretty dang well. Not sure if it's the heat or the caffeine, so it may or may not work with de-caf.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Dang, blueseatx. Glad that I helped find something over the counter to help relieve sinus nasal discomfort! ":^)

Here, if it is any consolation, check my trials and tribulations in another thread on this same page, linked below.
Bill P.

Here is a link that might be useful: Other thread


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

This is also my first garden. I have learned a great deal in raising watermelons this year to bad the seasons almost over. When I first started I used a lot of mircle grow and grass clipping and lots of water. My results were a lot of vine growth and some fruit and a lot of blossom rot. Mircle grow does help the vines grow, but the growth on the fruit was slow and was slow in producing watermelon. I changed my fertilizer, to a 10 10 10 plant food now the seasons about over with I am seeing a dramatic differences in sizes of the flowers and rapid weight gain in my crimson sweer watermelon. I was told the by a professional to use less nitrogen and more potash for growth and weight. I hope this helps anyone who is growing their first garden too.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

10-10-10 does pretty well as a melon fertilizer. Perhaps 8-10-12 would be ideal when using those kinds of fertilizer.
My melons that ripened after August 10 have been super. I lay a lot of that to the varieties I raise and some micro nutrients.


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RE: growing watermelons the first time.....

I should have added to the above post....I let my melons get nice and ripe.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Wanyne, how big did your carolina cross get, I am really curious is it still growing or did you cut it and if so what was the weight on it?


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Here is are my photos of my 2 watermelons. My first photo I took after I cut the watermelon which weighed in as 34lbs. and was 2 feet in length. I divided it up and shared the wealth with my neighbors & husband's work employees. I thought I was growing Crimson Sweet but if you look at the second photo (in the garden) you'll see it looks exactly like a Georgia Rattlesnake (Heirloom) watermelon.
Dorry


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

The watermelon tendrils were still green so I decided to follow someone elses advice in this vegetable forum group. I knocked on the watermelon & it sounded hollow to me plus the watermelon has been in the garden growing for about 100-120 days. I think that was long over due for picking. The taste is out of this world! This watermelon (Georgia Rattlesnake- A Heirloom) is highly recommended to grow from a first time grower of watermelons.
Dorry


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Hey, blueyes, those look mighty good. From the pictures you sent I can see that your having the same trouble that I am with the wilting and black spots on your leaves. Do you have the same simtumpts on you tomatoes too?


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Thanks henry_garden! :o) Actually, my watermelon plant has been staying healthy and green without any problems until... recently when it started getting a bit cooler during the day & evening. I think my watermelon plant is done growing for the season. One of my tomato plants has had problems ever since we got those very hot days in the middle of the summer. It has been going downhill with the tomatoes & the sickly plant.
What's going on with your plants henry_garden?


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

I just notice that your melons have the same kind of black spot as mine do. I had planted lots of tomato plants around my watermelons. I planted crimson sweet watermelons this year and did well with them. For some strange reason the tomato's got the black spot diesease and it spread to my watermelon plant. I believe it was probably from the unusual amount of rain this year. I did try out for the state fair and one first place with my watermelon it weighed 30 pounds. I reciceved second place for weight category. So not a bad growing season. I still have a few growing now but the your right the season is about over with.


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RE: Fall watermelons

Man, I sure wish that my watermellons had been as active in the late spring and early summer as they have become since our weather cooled a bit and we got a little rain. I have at least 10 new mellons on the vines and am finding more every day. And they are growing at a fantastic rate.

I had tilled the empty spaces where I had removed other plants, lightly to prep it for planting fall greens after spreading the rest of my good home made compost and broadcasting some 21-0-0 ammonium sulfate, then mixed the seeds for the greens with dry molasses as filler and broadcast that. We got almost two inches of rain which probably took some of that on down around the watermellon roots and that may have something to do with it, dunno.

Only three of them saw fit to set on the ground, the rest of them are on the vines that want to climb up the fences. I have slings or hammocks under three of then now and will soon have to rig up four more. Fortunately, I have some of those mesh onion sacks that I plucked out of the supermarket dumpster when I was dumpster diving for produce to make compost with. They should be strong enough to hold them, although three of them are the long green Tom Watson mellons which was so good earlier. It went about 23 pounds according to our bathroom scale, but the ones growing now are growing so fast, I don't really know what to expect from them. I also have several more of the round striped Crimson Sweets and at least two long striped one similar to the rattlesnake mellon pictured above. The seed for it came from a very good, big mellon that Tom gave me last summer. I planted the seed in a little seed tray just to see what would happen, then transplanted them into a half barrel that I had mixed up some stuff in. I hope that they have time to make, and I think that they probably will.
I may try to take some pictures of them in the morning.

Still nada, zip, zilch, zero on them dadgummed Orange glo that have been taking up garden space all summer long, but the vines look good and green.
Bill P.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

I am growing watermelons that sprouted from a disgarded seed last year. I am relatively new to growing watermelons. Each of the melons is growing with a goose neck, widening at the bloom end of the melon and then ending with a goose neck much like that of yellow squash. Is this normal? I do not know which variety it is, but the skin looks like that of the Georgia rattlesnake pictured above. The largest melon is right now nearly 18 inches long and at it's widest part is as big as a giant cantaloupe. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

No, I don't think that is normal. I have seen misshpen mellons of various kinds which I thought have been caused by uneven mositure available to them or something like that, but usually just random ones, not all on a plant. They are usually at different ages and stages, not all being pollinated at the same time.
Someone else may have a better idea than I on the matter.
Bill P.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Usually bottlenecked watermelons are large on the blossom end and very small on the stem end. They are caused by not being polinated on the small end for one reason or another. I suppose besides lack of pollen that the bloom could have been partly damaged or been mishappen.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

If anybody has allergy problems , squirt some hot folgers into your sinus'...

Acutally, a neti pot is fabulous for allergy sufferers.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

i am growing watermelons for the first time........sugar babies.......... 1st off .......any tips? they are about the size of a small coffee cup right now........now problems..........are bugs usually a problem>??? how do i know when they are done>?? i hear when they fall off the vine is that true?? also...........planted tomatoes and cukes next to them..........should i cut them melons back..........because they really do seem to take over the whole garden.?........


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

I really am new at growing watermelon so I hope this doesn't sound stupid!

I have two plants in my garden (put seedlings in the ground mid-May). I chose a smaller Icebox variety (8-10 lbs) due to limited space. Each plant has about 4 sq ft of growing area in the garden, plus "rambling space" out into the yard - they are planted at the garden's edge.

After 6 weeks in the ground each plant has 5 runners about 3 ft. long. The plants have been blooming profusely and I have plenty of bees. I have 1-2 "buds" on each runner but only one has started to grow, it is pea-sized.

Here is my question:

Can one or more of the runners be pruned in order to save space? I don't expect to have space for more than a couple of fruits per plant and the vines that are running into the garden will be getting crowded soon.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Another first timer for the watermelon.

I've had my plants in the ground for a good couple of months now and I have a number of marble sized fruit. They have not gotten any larger than that. I don't recall how many plants are in the bed maybe 5-6. The bed is 5' x 10' and the plants have taken over another 10' x 10' area outside of the bed. They are watered for an hour per day on a soaker system.The beds are filled with mushroom compost and they have been fed additional fertilizer 2-3 times. The pumpkins are coming along fine, the tomatoes are doing overtime this year as well, beans are still producing, the corn didn't fair so well though. Any ideas what may be the problem?

Thanks a million


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

It could be that the plants are too crowded and therefore inhibiting fruit growth. A 5x10 bed would do better with 2 plants.


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

Some tips from an old man that learned from an older Grandpa. Dig a hole about the size of a 3 gallon bowl. Fertilize with compost and a cup of 10-20-10 fertilizer. Put all the dirt back and make a small hill or knoll about 1 foot in diameter above ground level ( this helps warm the soil ). When bloms appear start fertilizing with 6-24-24. They don't need the nitrogen now, but really need the phospherous and potassium. Water about 1 inch of water a week and twice a week in dry spells. Watermelons do not have a 4 foot tap root as somebody said here. Watermelons are very shallow rooted.


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watermelons

watermelons rot on the end at the size or a small football can you tell me why


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

When is the best time to plant moon and stars watermelon in Houston?

Ch33se


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RE: growing watermelons for the first time

This person, located in Northern Wyoming, transplanted from California has really good growing tips for watermelon! On this site. I wrote to them at: brokenbar@tctwest.net
Try to find their site on here.


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