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How to Grow Watermelon

If you have plenty of garden space, you will want to grow Watermelon in your home garden. Watermelon is a summertime favorite, and a picnic "must have".  "Melons", as they are often called, are a juicy treat, and perfect for hot summer days.

There are a number of varieties of watermelon. The largest can grow over 200 pounds. Home gardeners with limited space, can grow "Bush" varieties. These varieties produce smaller, rounded fruit.

Save the Date: August 18th is National Watermelon Day.

How to Grow Watermelon Plants:

Grow Watermelon plants in full sun. Plants prefer rich garden soil that drains well. They are big feeders. Mix in plenty of compost into the soil prior to planting.

Plant watermelon seeds in rows or hills, planting seeds one inch deep. In hills, plant four to five per hill. After they have germinated, thin to two to three plants. Row spacing varies by variety.

Watermelons can also be started indoors 2-4 weeks before the last frost. To minimize transplant shock, we recommend using peat pots or pellets.

Watermelons plants are heavy feeders. Fertilize when planting, and every 3-4 weeks, until harvest.

Water regularly to keep the soil moist.

It is important to weed frequently, to keep weeds from competing for water and nutrients.

Mulching around  the plants, helps to feed the plant, minimize weeds, and to retain soil moisture.

Watermelon is not a hardy plant. They are susceptible to frost in the spring and fall. If frost is in the forecast, covering plants is a must.

Harvesting Watermelon:

Days to Maturity:  80 to 90 days for baby bush varieties, and 90 to 100 days or more for the larger varieties.

Most people tap on the fruit, and listen for a dull thump that signals it is ripe.

Here are some other signs that your watermelon is ripe: growth stops, the underside turns yellow, and the stem turns dry and shrivels.

Insects, Pests, and Disease:

The Cucumber Beetle is a major problem. Use insecticides at the first sign of  beetles. More on Cucumber Beetle.

Squash vine borers are a deadly problem. They will bore into the vine and eat it away, killing the plant. Read pesticide labels before purchasing, to make certain they are effective against borers. More on Squash vine borers.

Watermelon plants are susceptible to powdery mildew, and are variety of bacteria and fungus diseases. Problems often occur with the arrival of warm weather and high humidity. Treat with fungicide before the onset of warm weather in your area.

More Information:

Garden Recipes - Find Watermelon recipes and garden recipes galore!

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