When to grow watermelon?

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Post a comment or question Display Newest first | Oldest first, Show comments for Australia | for all countries 14 Jan 20, Dale gibson (New Zealand – sub-tropical climate) Hi there ,I planted my watermelon seed in early November and surprisingly they germinated within 2 to 3 weeks ,..6 weeks on an the growth is very slow…it is mid January 2020 I live tolaga bay east coast nz …weather climate is warm and hopefully will continue threw to march …have I left it to late.. let me no. regards 15 Jan 20, Another gardener (Australia – sub-tropical climate) I’m sub-tropical Qld – they plant seedlings here late august and pick the melons up until Xmas. Planting later leaves you wide open to heavy rain, hot weather. A lot of rain when the melons are fully developed and they can/will split. Water melon seeds I threw in the garden in Oct germinated within 2-3 weeks. Here you can grow a spring and autumn crop. I would suggest you planted too late. If not growing I don’t think the soil is very fertile. 16 Nov 19, Anne Hay (Australia – temperate climate) What sort of of soil should be used for growing watermelon. Should they be grown in the sun or shade and what do you feed them please. 18 Nov 19, Another gardener (Australia – sub-tropical climate) Any reasonable soil just not heavy clay soil. In the sun and any general vegie fert. If you prepare your soil well before planting by adding compost, manures, organic fert, inorganic fert, then that is enough to grow the crop. I have never used any of these soil enhancing products. If you grow pretty good crops without them why waste money putting all that stuff on. 04 Nov 19, (Australia – sub-tropical climate) What fertiliser do you use and where do you put it. Also how often do you water? 05 Nov 19, (Australia – sub-tropical climate) It is best to prepare your soil and add the fertiliser (compost, manures, in-organic fert , organic fert) when preparing it unless you want to use these soil enhancers that have very little NPK. 05 Nov 19, anon (Australia – sub-tropical climate) Most veges just need an all round fertiliser. Leafy veges a bit more N, fruity/root veges a bit more P/ K. Read up about what N P K does in the soil. that will determine what you put on. But it is impossible to go and buy 20 different fertilisers for 20 different plants. I buy the same fertiliser to fertilise all my vegetable, lawn and shrubs. Also look at crop rotation. A leafy crop will take the N out, so you might plant a root crop after. When plants are very small they need a light watering each day, as they grow you can water less often but put more water on. Plants half grown need watering each 2-3 days. The amount depends on how big that plant grows. You would water lettuce a lot less than 1.8m high tomatoes. I water 3 days a week. 23 Sep 19, jamie clodial (Australia – tropical climate) what are the harvesting conditions to grow watermelon 30 Sep 19, Anon (Australia – sub-tropical climate) Are you growing them or harvesting them? 30 Apr 19, bella (Australia – temperate climate) it doesn’t have any sowing depth or distance or the proper months to plant Showing 1 – 10 of 139 comments

Home grown watermelons are one of the real sweet treat pleasures of summer. How do you know when your watermelon is ready? There are lots of tips that will help you with harvesting watermelons. Just remember that patience is a virtue with this summer favorite.

Vegetable gardening is a love of mine and watermelons are one of my favorites, so I have been trying to get some to grow in my garden. Did you know that there are many watermelon varieties, you may not have heard of?

Watermelons are not the only popular melons to grow in a home garden. Cantaloupes and honeydew melons are great too. See my tips for growing these melons here.

Did you know that watermelon is thought of as both a fruit and a vegetable? It is considered a fruit because it grows from seed, and has a sweet flavor. But it is considered a vegetable because it is harvested and eaten like other vegetables and is a member of the same family as squash, pumpkins and cucumbers.

Tips for Harvesting Watermelons.

My watermelon patch that is spreading like crazy. It seems to grow a few feet every day. The darn thing was sprawling all over my garden with not a watermelon in sight until a little while ago when it started producing in large numbers. Finally…it’s time to harvest them!

But wait. They look ripe and they are heavy, but I get only one chance to do this right. What do I need to be aware of when it’s time for harvesting watermelons? The trick is to make sure that they are neither too ripe, or not ripe enough, but how do we know?

Check your seed package.

Seed packages are a wealth of information. They tell you when to plant the seeds, how far away to space them, and how long they take to grow. The time to harvest can vary slightly but most watermelons will be ready to harvest 80 to 120 days after the seeds have been planted, depending on variety.

Don’t know when a watermelon is ready for harvest? Check out my tips. #growingveggies #I♥watermelons 🍉

Check the tendrils.

Those curly green things growing on the ends of your melon will first turn yellow and then change to a brown color. When this happens, it means the plant is no longer feeding the watermelon and the time for picking one is getting close. If your tendril looks nearly dead, the melon is definitely ripe, and could even be over-ripe. Pick these ones for sure.

Look for a crack at the stem

Sometimes the stem of the watermelon will split on the stem itself just above the top of the melon. If there is a small crack at this point, it indicates that the fruit should be ripe and ready to harvest. Note: you don’t want the watermelon itself to crack. That is a whole separate issue.

Press the Watermelon

Try pressing on the watermelon. If you find that it gives a little, it means that it is ripe. Don’t press too hard, though, or you will bruise the fruit and this could ruin the quality and taste of the melon.

The Color of the belly will change

Watermelons sit on the ground as they mature and their bellies change color. As the plant gets closer to the time for harvesting, the underside will turn from green to white or yellow color (depends on the variety). Also, look at the surface of the the melon. It will start to take on a dull color.

Another thing to check for is the color between the stripes, if the melon grows with them. There should be some contrast between the stripes.

Check the size.

Many seed packages will tell you what to expect for size from the melons that grown. Check the expected size and if it’s close, all things being equal, it should be near to ripe time. The watermelon on the right is more likely to be ripe than the smaller one on the left since it is closer to the size that is expected from the plant.

Do the Thump Test

I have to admit. I’m not the best at this trick. It appears my gardening ears don’t differentiate between thump and “don’t pick me now, I’m not ripe.” But for those of you with better hearing than mine, the theory is that if you pick up a watermelon and thump it with your hand, it will make a hollow sound indicating when it is ripe.

My experience with the Thump Test

Apparently the “thump” test is difficult for less-gifted ears. One cut into this melon proved to me that there must be another test that will be more accurate than listening for a hollow sound, since this is what awaited me.

Dang it all, not even the seeds were ripe enough to save. However, I was impatient with my test and tried it long before the package told me that it might be ready. That really is the best test of all and you need patience to see it through!
Something tells me that the 80 -120 day rule might have been a good one to follow. It is a very good thing that I had nine more melons out there waiting for me.

Follow the tips above and watch for the signs. Try to make sure that you’ve waited the number of days that your package tells you to, and check to see if your fruit shows the signs that it’s ready to harvest. If you do, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying fresh watermelon on your summer picnic table.

What tips do you have for harvesting watermelons? Let me know in the comments below.

Image adapted from one at Wikipedia commons. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Photographer: Kumon

Admin Note: This post first appeared on the blog in August of 2014. I have updated the information, and added new photos to give a better idea of harvesting watermelons.

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This was my fourth year of growing watermelons in Melbourne. Surprisingly, watermelons are very easy to grow in our Melbourne climate. You use similar methods to those methods used in growing pumpkins, but they take far less space than your average pumpkin vine. If you can spare a few square metres of garden space, then I definitely recommend having a go at growing them. This year I even grew some on the shed roof!

Here’s Leaf Root & Fruit’s guide to growing Watermelons in Melbourne. I have also successfully grown Cantaloupe (Rockmelon) and Honeydew melons in Melbourne, using the same methods.

This year we grew several varieties of watermelon. We also grew Honeydew and Cantaloupe

When to Grow Watermelons in Melbourne

Watermelons originated from Central Africa and require a warm, humid climate. Most varieties are harvested 3 to 4 months after planting. So, to ensure that they have a long enough growing time over the Melbourne summer, they should be planted from mid-October through to early-November

Watermelon vines are sensitive to frost. So, ensure that you hold off sowing seeds until all danger of frost has passed. The seeds require warm soil temperatures. I have successfully germinated watermelon seed in pots, in a greenhouse, and then transplanted the seedlings. However, I find that the disruption of the seedlings during transplanting, means that any early start, is negated by the time it comes to harvest. If you do start plants indoors, then take extra care when planting out, so as not to disturb seedling roots.

Watermelon vines must have full sun to develop and ripen the fruit.

Preparing the soil for growing watermelons

Watermelons can tolerate a wide range of soil types. But, they do need good drainage.

Prepare the soil prior for planting by adding plenty of well decomposed animal manure or home-made compost. It’s best to avoid poultry manure or rich organic fertilisers as this can cause over production of male flowers at the expense of female flowers.

A soil pH of 6.5 to 7 is preferred, but not essential. If necessary, lime may be added to the soil to increase the soil pH and help to supply calcium. If your soil is neutral to alkaline, gypsum can be added to the soil to supply calcium without altering the soil pH. Calcium deficiency can cause problems in fruit development so it is particularly important for growing melons.

Sowing watermelon seeds

Create raised mounds of soil to improve drainage. Add a shallow depression in the top of the mounds to assist with watering and plant 2 or 3 seeds in the depression. When they germinate, thin out the plants, so that only the strongest seedling remains.

Allow an area of around 2sq metres per plant.

Seeds should germinate within 14 days providing the soil is warm.

Caring for watermelon vines

Despite their names, watermelons don’t like any more watering than other veggie crops. In fact, over-watering them can result in bland, tasteless (although very juicy) fruit. Keep the soil moist with regular watering, but not waterlogged.

This variety of watermelon, called ‘Moon and Stars’ has yellow spots on both the leaves and the fruit.

Watering plants with liquid seaweed, compost tea or a commercial formula such as Seasol will help improve disease resistance and supply additional trace elements during the growing season.

Pinching out the tips of developing vines will help to encourage branching. This keeps the vines compact and can result in more fruit.

Just like other cucurbits, watermelons produce separate male and female flowers on the one vine. It is common for vines to initially only produce male flowers. When female flowers do form, they will always be far fewer in number than male blooms.

Borage is great for encouraging pollinators like bees into the garden to fertilize your watermelon plants

Bees are the main pollinators of watermelons with flowers most receptive to fertilisation during the early morning. Make sure you have plenty of companion flowers to encourage bees into the garden.

Just like zucchinis and pumpkins, watermelon flowers that have not been pollinated develop small, infertile fruit. These develop soft rot at the flower end of the fruit or turn yellow and eventually fall from the vine. Hand pollination is one way to ensure successful fruit formation, although with my watermelon crops, I haven’t had to resort to this method yet.

Each plant can be expected to produce three to six fruit, providing they are watered regularly and receive adequate nutrition.

Watermelon Pests and Diseases

Caterpillars can occasionally feast on watermelon vines. Most are picked off by birds, or you can conduct regular “search and destroy missions”.

Aphids love to feed on new shoots. These sap sucking insects can spread virus diseases. There is no control for virus affected plants and virus diseases can be transferred to the next generation of plants via infected seed. Aphids can produce a substance called honeydew. This can promote sooty mould and debilitate the plants. See our guide to controlling aphids for dealing with these pesky critters.

As fruit approaches maturing, you will need to protect it. Rats, mice, crows and possums all find watermelons tasty too!

How do you know when to harvest your watermelon?

Just like harvesting pumpkins, the traditional practice for determining ripeness is to tap the fruit and listen for a hollow sound. Deterioration of the vines including shriveling of the tendrils on the fruit stem is another sure sign that your fruit is ripe for the picking.

Watermelons have a variable shelf life according to variety. When harvesting the fruit, be sure to clip a short section of stem with the fruit rather than pull it from the vine. This will minimise damage. Handle watermelons carefully so as to avoid damage to the skin.

Watermelons are not a particularly long keeping fruit, so eat them quickly. Whole watermelons can be stored for up to two weeks in a cool, dark area, OUT of the refrigerator. Storing whole watermelons in a cold refrigerator can cause the flesh to break down.

Exposing harvested fruit to sun and heat will cause skin scalding and deterioration of the flesh. Once the watermelon is cut, it can be stored in the refrigerator and chilled for eating. However, the melon should be eaten within a few days.

Watermelon varieties to consider planting in Melbourne.

There are many heirloom varieties of watermelon available to gardeners in Melbourne. Varieties can produce fruit varying in weight from less than 4 to over 18 kilograms. The flesh may be red, pink, orange, yellow, apricot or white depending on the variety selected. Skin colour is also extremely variable with many different colours and patterns.

Moon and Stars

Moon and Stars watermelon has stunning yellow markings on them resembling moons.

Large oval fruit, with dark green skin dotted with large yellow moons. Yellow flecks that resemble tiny stars are also found on the fruit and the foliage. Flesh is sweet and pinky/red in colour. The fruit keeps longer than other varieties. This was the first year that I grew Moon and Stars. I found this variety to be unreliable and poor yielding. Although, I may just have had a bad batch of seed. We tried growing this variety as part of our Giant Edible Trellis, but the vines suffered from powdery mildew and we only harvested one insignificant fruit off a total of 4 vines. Interestingly, the plants refused to climb and instead preferred to sprawl along the ground.

Sugarbaby

Sugarbaby Watermelons have small fruit on compact vines

A very sweet, early maturing small round fruit with dark green skin produced on

compact vines. It is ideal for home gardeners, because of its smaller size (both vine and fruit). This has been my most successful variety of watermelon. The small plants don’t take much space, and they were the variety I planted on the shed roof this year. The fruit are easy to fit in the refrigerator to chill and are a perfect portion size for one or two people.

Icecream

Watermelon ‘Icecream’. Looks amazing and tastes delicious!

Let’s face it, a variety watermelon with the name “Icecream” has got to be good. Named for its unusually high sweetness, this variety of watermelon has huge fruit. This year I harvested one that weighed 7.4kg! The skin has a light green tiger stripe pattern on it.

Watermelon varieties that I haven’t grown yet, but will trial next season:

Blacktail Mountain

It is an early maturing variety which, suits Melbourne’s cooler climate, as it is tolerant of a wide range of climates .

It is round like a soccer ball, with dark green rind and sweet red flesh.

Cream of Saskatchewan

A small round fruit, striped green and yellow, with a sweet pale yellow-white flesh. This watermelon splits when it ripens, so you’ll never see it in the shops.

Orangeglo

A big, oblong watermelon with light green, tiger striped rind. The flesh is a bright orange colour with excellent flavour. It is a very productive variety.

Crimson Sweet/Warpaint

A round, light green fruit with dark stripes and thin skin. It has sweet red flesh with small seeds.

Apparently it has good disease resistance and is suitable to many climates and soil conditions. Stores well.

Have you had a go at growing watermelons in Melbourne? How did they turn out?

VeggieHarvest

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Watermelon Growing and Harvest Information

Temperature
Germination 75-95 F
For Growth 65-75 F
Soil and Water
Fertilizer Heavy feeder. Before planting, work in compost or rotted manure
Side-dressing Apply balanced fertilizer or compost when vines are 12-18″ long and again when fruits form
pH 6.0-6.5
Water average
Measurements
Planting Depth 1/2″
Root depth shallow in general , some up to 4′
Height 24″
Width up to 30-40 square feet
Space between plants
In beds 2′
In rows 4-8′
Space between rows 5-7′
Average plants per person 2-6
Harvest
Determining when a watermelon is ripe is more of an art than a science. Look for dark appearance overall and a golden yellow spot where the rind was resting on the ground for the most reliable indication of ripeness.
First Seed Starting Date 18 days before last frost date
Last Seed Starting Date 112-151 before first frost date
Companions
Companions pumpkins, radish, squash
Incompatibles None

Watermelons are a summertime treat enjoyed by young and old alike. There is nothing quite as refreshing as a cool slice of watermelon in the hot summer days of July and August. In addition to tasting great, watermelons are a leading source of lycopene (commonly found in tomatoes), in addition to being a very good source of vitamin A and C.

Where to Grow Watermelons

Because watermelons require a long, warm growing season, their best production in the United States occurs in the South and Southwest regions, where there is ample growing time and warm weather. Home gardeners in cooler regions can usually do fairly well with watermelons if they start seed indoors a month or more ahead of planting outdoors, but the vines need consistently warm days and nights to thrive. Watermelons need at least 80-100 consecutive days of very warm summer temperatures, at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Watermelons also prefer warm nights, above 70 degrees Fahrenheit is preferred. Watermelons are a warm-season crop, very tender to frost and light freezes. Plan an average of 2-6 plants per person. Watermelons generally take up enormous space, and should not be considered for the small vegetable garden. There are compact varieties that produce tasty and prolific fruits.

Recommended Varieties of Watermelons

The newer refrigerator-size small hybrid watermelons are more satisfactory for the average home garden, especially in the Northeast, where the growing season is shorter. Sugar Baby; New Hampshire Midget; and Lollipop.

Soil for Watermelon Growing

A sandy, light loam deeply enriched with manure and compost is ideal. The soil should be slightly acidic, pH 6. Since the vines are generally planted in hills, better yields can be realized by working in a spade full of well-rotted manure and fertilizer such as bone meal into each hill before planting. A well finished compost would also be a good substitute. In the past we have layered both green and brown garden wastes into a small mound, and covered that with dirt to make a miniature compost mound. After one year, this mound makes an ideal place to plant your watermelons. As a side note: melon rinds are excellent compost material, and would make a good base for such a mound.

Planting Watermelons

Germination in 7-10 days.

When –

To get a head start on the long growing season, start plants indoors 4 to 5 weeks before outdoor planting time. The soil must be warm and the weather settled with warm days and nights, as the plants are sensitive to cooler weather. If nights are cool, use hot caps to protect the plants. Melons can be sown directly outside, but some gardeners report better germination with presprouted seeds.

Note on Seedless Watermelons:

Seedless watermelon seeds are notoriously difficult to germinate, which is the primary reason for their high cost. Direct seeding of seedless watermelon seeds will suffer a very low germination rate, they will almost certainly need to be transplanted. A soil thermometer is critical, and likely a thermostatically controlled heating mat necessary to maintain the soil temperature at the required 85 to 95 degrees F; seeds will germinate quicker at the higher temperature range. The most common reason for failure is too much water in the soil. Water should not be able to be squeezed out of a hand full of soil (too much water), and it should not fall apart in your hands (too little water). Rather, the soil should retain its shape in your hand after squeezing if the proper amount of moisture is present. This is critical for the first 48 hours. Once germinated, temperatures should be returned to those representative of their growing environment. Expect seedlings to be less vigorous than standard seeded varieties, and slightly more susceptible to disease. Seedless watermelons will also require cross germination with a seeded watermelon variety in order to produce seedless watermelon fruit. A couple of germination seeds are often included in seedless watermelon packets. Any seeded variety can be used, the ones included are typically just for convenience.

How –

If you start melons indoors, use individual cells or peat pots, not flats, as the roots are too succulent to divide. When you direct sow, plant 2-3 seeds in a hill and then thin the appropriate spacing, depending on whether you train them on a trellis or let them spread on the ground. For direct sowing and transplants, cover seedlings with hot caps to protect from frost, speed growth, and keep out pests. The vines do best if planted in hills. Rows and hills should be set 5 to 6 feet apart each way, with 2 or 3 plants per hill. Thin to the 2 strongest plants in a week.

How Watermelons Grow

Watermelons grow extensively broad, ground hugging vines with soft, attractive foliage. The flowers appear quite suddenly, and it is interesting to watch the tiny melons start to develop after the flower petals drop. Watermelons have separate male and female flowers, and are not wind pollinated. They typically rely on insects for pollination (most likely bees), and will need your help if insect pollinators are insufficient.

Cultivating Watermelons

To encourage side shoots, when seedlings have 3 leaves, pinch off the growing end. When new side shoots have 3 leaves, pinch off the central growing area again. When fruits begin to form, pinch back the vine to two leaves beyond the fruit. Make sure fruits on a trellis are supported by netting or pantyhose, and fruits on the ground vines are elevated by empty pots to prevent disease and encourage ripening.
The vines are heavy feeders, and also need adequate moisture as they start to develop. Troughs near the plants can be flooded for effective watering. For fertilizer, give each hill about 1/2 cup of 5-10-5 fertilizer, liquid manure or fish emulsion 3 weeks after planting, and again (if you can find the original hill) after flowers appear. Keep the hills well-watered up to the time fruit starts to fill out. Since weeding and cultivating are such problems with sprawling vine crops, black plastic or thick mulch proves an excellent aid to keeping weeds out, soil moisture in, and melons off the ground as they develop. The plastic mulch should be placed on the ground and anchored before planting, then central holes cut for the hills, with a few extra slits to let rain and hose water filter through. Plain cardboard and newspaper covered appropriately also work well in a smaller garden setting.

Storage Requirements
Store fruits in a cool area
Fresh
Temperature Humidity Storage Life
35-55 F 80-90% 1 month
Preserved
Method Taste Shelf Life
frozen good 3 months

Knowing when to harvest watermelons is the most difficult part of growing them. They should be harvested at the peak of freshness for best results. Waiting too long gives you nothing but a mealy mess. Not waiting long enough means you may have to throw an inedible treasure out to the chickens.

There are several methods to identify a ripe watermelon, most of which are not entirely accurate at best. Some say you should tap them and listen to the sound they make, some say to look at the small tail to determine it’s ripeness. The fact is, these are not reliable indicators for all watermelon varieties. The most reliable indicator of ripeness is the color. Ripe watermelons will have darker stripes and the spot the rind rests on will turn from white to golden yellow. Different varieties will darken to different degrees, but this will be your best indicator. If all else fails, plant a variety like Sugar Baby. Its green stripes darken to almost black when it is ripe, which makes the puzzle a little easier.

Watermelon Pests

  • Striped cucumber beetle (East Coast) – or – Spotted cucumber beetle (West Coast): This is essentially the same pest, which changes its coat depending on which coast it chooses. Adults overwinter on garden debris, so good fall cleanup is the first step in control. Yellow sticky traps can also be used for cucumber beetles, but be aware they will also trap beneficial insects. In large plantings, perimeter trap crops of “Blue Hubbard” winter squash can be effective control strategy, as this is one of their favorite plants. Nearby plantings of barrage may also suppress cucumber beetle populations.
  • Squash bug -Handpick adults and leaves bearing eggs. If boards are placed between rows in the evening, these insects will hide under them and can be destroyed in the early morning by uncovering and killing them.
  • Vine borers – These pests are usually not seen until the damage is done. Good fall cleanup to destroy overwintering eggs is important.

Watermelon Diseases

Grow resistant varieties.

The epitome of summer fruits, watermelon is easy to grow when it can receive all the summer sun it needs. From sowing to harvest, here are all the best practices to grow it.

Key watermelon facts

Name – Citrullus lanatus
Family – Cucurbitaceae or gourd family
Type – fruit
Height – 8 to 20 inches (20 to 50 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – rich

Harvest – July to October

Read also: health benefits and therapeutic value of watermelon

Sowing and planting watermelon

Watermelon needs a lot of heat to germinate well, because the seedlings can’t cope in the least with frost.

Since it needs warmth, it is best to grow it in regions nearer the Equator, or at least in a greenhouse if you’re far from it.

Seedlings can be prepared indoors in nursery pots, in a warm and well-lit room. The ideal temperature range is between 72°F and 75°F (22°C to 24°C).

The right season to sow watermelon

Depending on the climate in your area, sowing watermelon is best starting from the month of March under cover in nursery pots followed by transplanting in May after any risk of freezing has disappeared, or you can also wait for May and proceed to sow directly in the plot.

  • Watermelon fears the cold, and requires warm to hot climate to germinate properly.
  • Watermelon loves rather rich soil, feel free to amend the soil with compost or fertilizer before planting.

If sowing in nursery pots, count more or less 3 weeks before transplanting them to the ground. That’s why there is no need to sow early.

  • Lightly press 2 to 3 seeds down in each nursery pot.
  • Ensure that temperature doesn’t drop below 50°F (12°C) during germination.
  • Once sprouted, keep only the most vigorous seedling.
  • 3 weeks later, they can be set into their growing bed, provided that the last frost spells are past already.
  • Provide for at least 3 feet (1 meter) between each plant.

Sowing watermelon seeds directly in the ground

It is also possible to sow directly in the ground starting from the month of May, if the area is prone to mild fall seasons.

This is the case in coastal areas such as climates nearer the Equator.

  • Watermelon requires rich soil to produce a nice harvest.
  • Feel free to add fertilizer or compost upon planting.
  • Loosen up the soil well before before sowing watermelon.
  • Provide for at least 3 feet (1 meter) between each plant.

Pruning and caring for watermelon

Since watermelon requires a lot of heat, it is recommended to place dark stones, shingles or tiles around the foot of the plant, they’ll store heat and share it to the plant.

Trimming the watermelon

If you’ve got the space in your garden or vegetable patch, you don’t need to trim or prune your watermelon to get nice watermelons.

Only prune for maintenance if you’ve got to control its spread to keep it from turning invasive and running over other growth.

  • If so, pinch the watermelon stem just after a female flower (light yellow), counting a few leaves after the flower and cutting there.

Watering watermelon

Watermelon needs a lot of water to develop well and grow fat, especially in case of heat and/or extended dry spell.

  • Water in the morning without wetting the leaves over the summer.
  • Stop watering entirely 1 week before harvesting, because otherwise the watermelons would risk bursting open prematurely.

Harvesting watermelon

The watermelon harvest is best timed more or less 30 days after the blooming and can extend over several weeks.

How to know if a watermelon is ripe

You should observe the watermelon well, because it really isn’t easy to determine how ripe it is. Don’t wait for the watermelon to break off from the stem on its own, this isn’t a good reference point.

It is said that the watermelon is ripe when the flesh has shifted from pink to red, and it must be eaten within the following fortnight.

Watermelon doesn’t react well to having too much water as it nears maturity, and would usually burst or slit open.

Best avoid watering during the last days before harvesting, and try to harvest in the afternoon instead of morning, so that the water content drops a bit.

  • Weight is a good reference for maturity: it must feel very heavy for it to be ripe.
  • It’s also possible to determine that the watermelon is ripe when the small corkscrew growth on the opposite side of where it’s attached to the stem is completely dry.

Keeping watermelon

After having been harvested, the watermelon won’t ripen any more, and it will keep for a few days or weeks depending on how it is stored.

The ideal preservation temperature ranges from 50° to 57°F (10°C to 13°C).

  • Avoid storing the watermelon in a moist room because this considerably shortens its keeping.
  • The watermelon will keep for longer if stored in the shade than in the sun.

Even though the watermelon won’t ripen anymore after it’s been picked, its color and taste keep getting better for about a week, if placed at room temperature.

Smart tips and advice on video about watermelon

All there is to know about watermelon

Native to Africa, watermelon is appreciated for its powerful thirst-quenching properties, as well as for its high vitamin content.

Just like melon, squash, pumpkins and other gourds, watermelon is part of the vast Cucurbitaceae family.

Watermelon is among the largest specimens of this family that brings together gourds and squash.

It is most often round in shape, but can also be oval and grow to reach a weight of 65 pounds (30 kg)!

But most watermelons weigh between 2 and 6 pounds (1 to 3 kg).

It is known for the extremely high water content of its flesh (about 92%), which makes it one of the fruits that are the most loaded in water during the summer and is naturally very hydrating. Surprisingly, the seeds are where the vitamin C is found.

Watermelon is known to have powerful antioxidant activity.

Read also: health benefits and therapeutic value of watermelon

Smart tip about watermelon

The worst enemy of watermelon is the cold: ensure it will never encounter it!

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