How to Grow Watermelon
Who doesn’t love watermelon? This popular summer fruit is not that difficult to grow given the right conditions.
Cantaloupes and honeydew are some of the most popular choices for backyard gardens. They are easy to grow as long as they have plenty of room to spread, good drainage and plenty of sunlight. Popular honeydew varieties include Venus and Super Dew. Popular cantaloupe varieties include Ambrosia, Imperial and Hale's.
If you live in a colder climate, pick short-season or early melons so they have enough time to ripen.
Pick a spot in the garden that gets full sun, though the plants will tolerate some afternoon shade. Work some compost or organic fertilizer into the top few inches of soil with a rake. Mound the soil into small hills spaced five to six feet apart, which allow the vines to spread out and the roots have a deep base. Cover the hills with black plastic to increase soil temperature, maintain moisture level, control weeds and speed growth. Tack down the corners with yard staples.
After the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed, make a slit in the plastic with a knife to allow for planting. Plant about 12 seeds 1/2" deep into each hill. Lightly cover the seeds with soil and water well. Be sure to mark the site with the planting date and seed variety.
When the seeds germinate, thin to three plants per hill. Work a sprinkling of slow-release vegetable fertilizer into the soil around each plant. Next, apply some liquid fertilizer over the plants, which is absorbed immediately to give the seedlings a jumpstart. Melons require an inch of water per week. Do frequent and thorough checks of the plants to look for pests like aphids and bean beetles.
It takes 70 to 110 days for most types of melons to ripen. Ripe cantaloupe will release easily from the vine, but pruners should be used to harvest honeydew. Once harvested, the melons will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.
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