On this week’s episode, Greg and Travis talk about growing watermelons — seedless watermelons are grown commercially and heirloom varieties on the homestead. Greg’s favorite variety to grow in his garden is the Crimson Sweet watermelon. This is a round watermelon that has an excellent, sweet taste. In previous years, he’s also tried other varieties including Orange Glo, which is an orange-meated watermelon that has a great taste as well. He mentions other popular varieties for the home gardener like Charleston Grey, Jubilee and Moon & Stars. They discuss the importance of using crop rotation and drip irrigation when growing any kind of cucurbit, especially watermelons. Although watermelons don’t typically experience significant insect pressure, they are very susceptible to fungal diseases. With excessive rainfall, fungal spores are able to get into the watermelons and start germinating which can cause powdery and downy mildew. By practicing a 3-year crop rotation and reducing leaf moisture with drip irrigation, many of these fungal diseases can be kept under control. For the home garderner, growing older open-pollinated varieties are much better than growing the seedless watermelons. They also discuss how seedless watermelons are grown commercially. Seedless watermelons begin with a diploid watermelon seed that is treated with a chemical called colchicine. This chemical disrupts the cell division process which results in a tetraploid seed. When that tetraploid plant is grown in the presence of diploid plants (pollinators), the reproductive result is a triploid fruit that has no viable seed. This triploid fruit is the seedless watermelon. According to Greg, the reason home gardeners should not grow the seedless variety because the seeds are so expensive. Here in the deep south are climate and soils are excellent for growing watermelons, so we have heavy production of commercially grown watermelons surrounding our area.
Show and Tell Segment
On the show and tell segment this week, Travis talks about the different varieties of peppers that he’s growing this year. The first one is a corno di toro type called Carmen, which is a sweet pepper that turns red upon maturity. This variety has been very prolific so far. He’s also growing Banana and Cubanelle varieties, which are also sweet peppers. The cubanelle variety is more of a blocky pepper which makes them nice stuffing peppers as well. For a hotter pepper, he’s growing the Serrano variety. Serrano peppers are slightly hotter than a jalapeño, although the heat of pepper has a lot to do with how much water the plant is given. With a lot of crop turnover happening in the garden lately the tool of the week is the push pull hoe. One of Travis’s favorite tools, the push pull hoe is an excellent tool for preparing the soil and removing weeds for new crops in the garden.
Viewer Questions Segment
On the question and answer segment, the guys answer questions about purple hull peas and gardening on a hill. They mention that sandy loam soil is probably the best for purple hull peas because they like warm climates and well-drained soils. Also known as field peas, purple hull peas are a staple in the south. Over the years, however, the pressure from the pea curculio insect has made it almost impossible to grow them locally. If your homestead land is hilly like that seen in West Virginia, they suggest planting along the hill, not up and down the hill. Other suggestions including using drip irrigation for constant watering and building terraces/contours to retain water. As long as you plant along the hill they believe drip irrigation will be very effective when planting.