Watermelon is one of the most delicious fruits around, and it's also one of the easiest to grow. If you've ever wondered how to make your own watermelon, this guide will help!
Watermelons are rich in vitamins A and C, as well as potassium. They can provide you with more than half of the daily recommended value of vitamin A, which helps support your immune system and promote vision health. Watermelons come in many shapes, sizes and colors; try growing a few different varieties in your garden this summer for a refreshing pick-me-up!
Growing your first crop of watermelon
If you've never grown a watermelon before, it's easy to be intimidated by this large, round fruit. But watermelons are actually incredibly easy to grow! Watermelons need warm weather and plenty of sunshine to thrive, so they're best planted in the summer.
Once your seeds have germinated and sprouted into seedlings (which should take place within 2 weeks), give them plenty of room as they grow into full-sized plants: at least 4 feet from any other plants or obstacles so they have enough space for their massive leaves and vines.A few tips to keep in mind…
- If you're planting a watermelon in your garden, you will want to choose a spot that gets at least 8 hours of direct sun per day. Watermelons need lots of sunlight to grow properly.
- If you're planting directly in the ground, dig out a large enough area so that all parts of the plant are planted 1 foot deep. The watermelon vine grows very long and wide, so be sure that your bed is large enough for it!
- To help keep things moist during dry times (especially if there are no sprinklers), cover the bed with mulch or straw. This will also help control weeds and retain moisture while allowing excess water to drain away from it instead of sitting on top where it might cause damage when temperatures rise
- Plant your watermelon seeds in well-drained soil that stays dry between watering. Excessively wet soil will cause the roots to rot, so keep this in mind when planting your seeds.
What type of watermelon should you grow?
As is the case with many fruits and vegetables, watermelons come in many different variations that you should know about before grabbing your seeds from the store. Here are a few of our favorite common variations and their key differences.
Sugar Baby Watermelons
Sugar Baby Watermelon, as their name suggests, are known for their small size - perfect for a small family or to enjoy yourself! These watermelons typically weigh around 8-10 pounds and are an exceptional choice if you are growing watermelons in a raised garden bed. All the watermelons photographed for this blog are Sugar Babies!
These juicy watermelons are perfect for picky eaters, as they are completely seedless! No more avoiding the good bits by the skin - you’ll be able to enjoy all 18-20 pounds of the Fascination Watermelon!
Crimson Sweet Watermelons
Looking for something familiar? Crimson Sweet Watermelons are commonly found at the grocery store, so you will recognize this decadent flavor immediately! Crimson Sweet seeds tend to be a little pricier than other varieties, but growing your own is still a great way to save on the cost of purchasing individual watermelons from the store!
If you have lots of space to work with, try growing Jamboree Watermelons! This variety offers a firm flesh with jam-packed flavor, and the best part is they’re not your average circular shape! Jamboree Watermelons take on a unique long, oval shape and weigh in at around 25-27 pounds each!
How do you know when to harvest?
When you’re growing watermelon, the time until harvest will be listed on the seed packet, but this is often listed as a range, usually about 65 - 90 days, which doesn’t offer a whole lot of specificity. To avoid harvesting too early and finding a disappointingly unripe melon, here are some signs to look out for once your melons reach the 65- 90 day window.
This tip is maybe the most well known - knocking on the outside of a melon searching for the hollow, solid thump. While it can certainly point you in the right direction, we like to think of this indicator as supportive evidence, rather than a deciding factor since it's a bit interpretive. In general you should listen for a dull, hollow-sounding echo through the melon.
A better indicator is the field spot. As its name implies, the field spot is the place on the belly of your watermelon that rests on the ground (or garden bed.) Because this spot gets very little sunlight, it is generally lighter in color than the rest of the melon. A ripe melon’s field spot should be a warm golden color, as opposed to light green or white.
Another way to assess a melon’s ripeness is to observe the tendril closest to the melon, on the main vine. This tendril will begin to dry out and turn brown as the melon ripens, and when it is brown all the way to the main vine, your melon should be crisp and ready to eat!
Another good indicator of ripeness is the texture of the outer rind. Whether your variety has stripes or not, you should be looking for the melon to be dull, and a bit rough to the touch. A bright and glossy melon is not ripe just yet!
We hope you enjoyed learning about watermelons and their easy growing process. If you're ready to get started with growing your own garden, head on over to our store to pick out the perfect raised garden bed for you!