Growing & Harvesting Watermelons
The best time to grow watermelons is during the warmer growing seasons. Watermelons can either be transplanted or direct seeded in the vegetable garden. When direct seeding we recommend planting seeds every 12 inches along the row and thin plants once they emerge to one every 2 foot. In the spring, we recommend transplanting in our seed starting trays that have internal vertical root training ribs in order to get a jumpstart on the growing season. This will allow for plants to go in the ground before the soil is warm enough for direct seeding in the vegetable garden. Since watermelons are susceptible to plant diseases if leaf moisture is present we prefer to use drip irrigation to reduce these problems and feed the plants more effectively in the garden. If you have heavy amounts of rainfall using a fungicide like Liquid Copper will help reduce disease pressures as well. Watermelons are ready to harvest when the tendril or curly Q which is located between the fruit stem and the fruit has completely dried up. The tendril is typically curly and green but will become dry when the fruits are ready for harvest in the vegetable garden.
While there are several different varieties of watermelons in the world we carry some of the best that we have found to grow in the vegetable garden. Greg’s favorite watermelon variety that he has grown in the vegetable garden is the Crimson Sweet. The Crimson Sweet variety is known for its deep crimson flesh, high sugar content, and is an All American Selections winner. This is a seeded variety that tends to be a little larger than some of the other watermelon varieties that are grown in the vegetable garden today. Another popular variety that we carry is the Moon and Stars Watermelon. This heirloom variety is known for its rather unique coloration pattern containing a dark green skin and yellow spots on the exterior of the watermelon which resembles moons and stars. Along with the Moon and Stars variety, we also carry a Yellow Moon and Stars Watermelon. Similar to the traditional moon and stars watermelon exterior the Yellow Moon and Stars contains a yellowish-meat variation interior that has a sweet flavor profile. Two other excellent heirloom varieties we offer is the Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelon and Charleston Gray Watermelon.
Tips for Ripe Watermelons
On this week’s episode, Greg discusses how to determine when watermelons are ripe in the garden. Over the years there have been many different ways to tell when a watermelon is ripe such as how green the exterior is or how yellow the belly is. However, Greg is going to explain the easiest way to determine when watermelons are ripe. The best way to determine if the watermelons are ripe is by the sunspots on the watermelon exterior. When there a little sun exposure on the watermelons it can be a good indication that the watermelon is ripe. Along with this indicator, the curly Q that’s attached where the stem meets the vine is completely dried up all the way to the back of the mainline stem. Greg shows an example of a watermelon that is almost ripe and we can tell this because the curly Q is dried up about halfway on towards the mainline stem. Along with another watermelon that is a few weeks off till becoming ripe. The easiest way to know if a watermelon is ripe is by checking the curly Q or tendril to determine if it is completely ripe and ready for harvest in the vegetable garden.