Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) grows in vines with wide, wrinkled leaves. This plant loves heat and will grow quickly once it settles down without needing much care. The following article will provide an explanation of how to plant and care for watermelons.
Part 1 of 3: Preparing to Plant
Step 1. Select the type of watermelon you want to grow
This fruit has a size that ranges from 1.3 kg to 32 kg, and with red or yellow flesh. Jubilee, Charleston Gray, and Congo watermelons are large, cylindrical watermelons. While Sugar Baby and Ice Box are smaller and shaped like a ball of the Earth.
- Decide whether to plant watermelon seeds or transplant them. Watermelon seeds need to be germinated at temperatures over 21 °C. So if you live in a cold climate, you may want to start growing your watermelon indoors a few weeks before the growing season, so that you'll be able to plant the seeds early in the growing season. Otherwise, plan to plant watermelon seeds directly into the ground at the start of the growing season, when temperatures stabilize above 21 °C.
- Watermelon seeds and grafts are available at plant stores in early spring.
Step 2. Choose a planting location
Watermelon plants need at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. This plant also has vines that spread out and take up a lot of space; set up 1.2 x 1.8 m for each plant, unless you are growing mini watermelon varieties.
Step 3. Prepare the planting area
Use a hoe to prepare the planting area well, breaking up lumps of earth. Remove other plants or dig deep into the soil.
- Watermelon likes loamy, fertile and well-drained soil. To find out if your field has good drainage, look for a time of heavy rain. If you see standing water, then your land drainage is not good enough.
- To fertilize the land, plant compost on the surface of the land.
- Watermelon will grow best in soil that has a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. Test your soil's pH to see if it is suitable for growing watermelons. If not, then you can change the pH of the soil by adding ingredients available at the plant store.
Part 2 of 3: Growing Watermelons
Step 1. Create a mound of earth
Use a tractor or plow to create "mounds" of soil (like hills) to plant watermelon seeds. Leave a distance of 60 cm - 1.8 m from one another. Elevating the soil used for planting ensures that the soil is loose enough for roots to grow, and oxygen can reach it easily, and removes excess moisture from your plant's roots. These mounds can also help retain moisture in dry weather.
Step 2. Plant the watermelon seeds
Form a flat surface slightly concave at the top of the mound. Then make three or four holes in the soil with a tool or with your finger, about 2.5 cm deep. Insert one to four watermelon seeds in each hole. Then cover with soil, gently pressing the soil to keep the moisture around the seeds from evaporating quickly.
Step 3. Wait for it to start sprouting
The watermelon seeds will germinate and the plants will emerge in about 7-10 days, depending on soil temperature and depth. Keep the soil around the seeds moist during germination, providing water nearby so it can reach the newly formed roots.
- When the seedlings start to grow, choose the two strongest ones to give them enough room to grow.
- Do not let the planting land dry up; You have to water it at least once a day.
Step 4. Cover each mound with suitable material once the plant reaches a height of 10 cm
You can use pine straw, grass or compost. Try to provide as much cover as possible to keep out weeds, retain moisture, and prevent the soil from overheating from direct sunlight around the newly sprouted roots.
Step 5. Reduce the water when the flowers start to bloom
After the flowers begin to bloom, water every 3 days if the soil starts to dry out. But make sure not to give too much water, because watermelon only needs a little water.
- Keep leaves and fruit dry. You can put the fruit on clean wood, or a large rock, etc.
- On very hot days, the leaves will shrivel even more. If you notice leaves looking wilted in the afternoon after a hot day, water them.
- The sweetness of watermelon can be increased by delaying watering one week before harvesting. But don't do it this way if it causes the stems to wilt. Give water as usual so that the second plant can grow well.
Step 6. Clean weeds regularly
Be sure to clean the area around the roots, around and above the stems.
Part 3 of 3: Harvesting Watermelon
Step 1. Make sure your watermelon is ripe
Under perfect conditions, watermelon will grow to give it a sweet taste in about four months in warm weather. Harvesting them prematurely will only give the watermelon a less sweet taste.
- To check the ripeness of the watermelon, tap the fruit. A blurry sound indicates that the watermelon is ripe. Also check the bottom if it has changed color from white to yellow then the watermelon is ripe.
- The curly vines near the watermelon stems will also dry out when they are ready to be harvested.
Step 2. Cut the watermelon from the stem
Use a sharp knife to cut the watermelon from the stem near the fruit well. Freshly harvested watermelon can be stored for 10 days.
You can get 2-5 watermelons for each vine
- Avoid cucumber beetles. This one pest likes watermelon. Other pests also such as fleas and mites.
- Do not sow seeds until the temperature has reached a minimum of 15.5 C. The best land temperature for planting is 24 C. It's okay to start potting seeds a few days early if needed.
- Downy mildew and those with powdery mildew can be a problem for watermelons. Because cucumber beetles will transfer bacteria that cause plants to wilt. For that, control this fungus.
- Don't wait too long to harvest watermelons. So that the watermelon does not become too ripe.
- Watermelons can be easily damaged by snow.
- Watermelon is sensitive to heat from fertilizers. Mix commercial fertilizers well before spreading them, and apply only a small amount.