If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to grow, care for and harvest your own watermelons, then follow our handy guide!
Watermelons are very popular, especially during summer. They are healthy and a great alternative to your usual snacks.
If you are in the U.S. and you live somewhere warm with long growing seasons, you can grow your own watermelons in your garden. If you live in a colder climate, you could also grow watermelons but we recommend starting your seeds indoors.
It takes watermelon plants between two and three months to mature. You can learn how to plant them, take care of them and harvest them in the sections below.
How to Plant Watermelons
If you are living in a colder climate, you need to start your watermelon seeds three weeks before the end of winter and then transplant them about two weeks after winter.
If you are living in a warmer climate with a long growing season, you simply need to sow your watermelon seeds three weeks after the last frost. But, you should check soil temperature to make sure it is at least 20 celsius to guarantee germination.
To sow watermelon seeds in your garden, dig the patch where you want to grow them thoroughly to loosen the soil. Dig the soil about two foot deep and then mix the loose soil with compost.
Next, create five foot square wide hills for drainage and heat retention and set the seeds about one inch deep and two feet apart. Each hill will only accommodate two to three seedlings if you follow the above spacing.
How to Care For Watermelons
After setting your watermelons in the soil, you need to focus on watering. You will need to water your plants frequently until they produce fruits. Once they produce fruits and the fruits grow a bit, you should reduce watering by 50% to make the melons sweet.
By frequently, I mean pouring about two inches of water, two to three times every week. However, you must not overwater your watermelons. Just keep the soil around their roots moist.
It is not necessary to fertilise watermelons, but some people do it. Fertilising watermelons with a nitrogen-rich fertiliser accelerates vine and leaf growth.
How to Harvest Watermelons
Melons typically ripen over two weeks. Therefore, you have to watch them closely once they become big enough. The easiest way to tell if a watermelon is ready is to hit it gently. If it sounds hollow, then it is ready for harvesting.
There is a second way to tell if a watermelon is ripe, this is to press it. If it has some give in it, then it is ready.
You can also examine the tendril to tell of your watermelon. If it is green then your melon is not ready but if it is half dead or dead, your melon is ripe to be harvested.
To harvest a watermelon, cut the stem very close to it with a sharp knife. Got a few too many watermelons and need inspiration with what to do with your haul? Check out some recipes here!
Tips and Common Problems
Mulching your watermelons is recommended as this will help to cut down on the amount of weeds and conserve moisture.
You should use a black plastic cover too as this will ensure moisture retention, prevent weed growth, warm the soil, and accelerate fruit development.
If you notice pests, you will need to eliminate them using organic pesticides and then cover your watermelon plants using row covers until they’ve produced flowers. This will allow pollinators to get in but keep pests out.
Powdery mildew can be a problem for many o your garden fruits and appears as a white powder. It can be easily solved by keeping your plants moist and growing them in a slightly cooler area of your garden.