How easy is it to grow watermelon
Planting watermelon: expert tips for growing it
The healthy watermelon provides refreshment on hot summer days. We show how you can grow the watermelon in your own garden.
Watermelons (Citrullus lanatus) are considered exotic fruits that are mostly imported from distant countries. In fact, the origin of the green-pink fruit is in West Africa, so the lush melon plants feel most comfortable when the heat is appropriate. Nevertheless, cultivation is also possible in our latitudes with the right tips and tricks. We'll show you how to grow the melons yourself.
Planting watermelon: timing, procedure and location
Although the watermelon is a pumpkin plant (Cucurbitaceae), it is much more sensitive to cold than cucumbers or pumpkins. You should therefore pay attention to a few points when choosing a location and the right time.
Planting watermelon: the right location
Melon plants are generally demanding in terms of location. Therefore, pay attention to the following aspects: Watermelons prefer a sandy and humus-rich soil. Soils that are too heavy hinder root penetration and tend to backwater. We also recommend preparing the bed with plenty of compost before planting out so that the watermelon plant gets enough nutrients. In addition to the right soil, a warm, sunny and sheltered place is an advantage for melons. The south wall of the house or the warm climate in the greenhouse, for example, offer ideal conditions.
When choosing a location, pay attention to these aspects:
- Light and humus soil (too heavy soils are unsuitable)
- Warm, sunny and sheltered place
- Ideally in the greenhouse or on a south wall
Planting watermelon: the right time
Watermelons are plants that have a high need for warmth - planting them out too early can therefore be fatal! Do not plant young plants outdoors until the end of May to the beginning of June at the earliest, in the greenhouse you can start as early as April. It should be noted that melons are sensitive to temperatures below 12 ° C.
Planting watermelon: the procedure
The actual planting out of the exotic is relatively easy: Place the young plants in the bed with a sufficient distance. Basically calculate 1 to 2 square meters per plant so that it has enough space to grow.
Plant watermelon in the pot
A good alternative to growing melons in beds is to plant them out in a pot. In this way you save space in the bed and still don't have to go without the delicious fruits. When growing watermelon in pots, you should note that the earth warms up faster than outdoors, but also dries out faster. Therefore, choose a saucepan that is as large as possible and water often. It is also an advantage not to place the plant in the blazing sun, because the soil dries out faster there.
Growing watermelons: buy plants or propagate them yourself?
Before you start growing watermelons in the spring, many people ask themselves the question: buy a melon plant or prefer it yourself? We introduce both options and show you the advantages and disadvantages.
Propagate watermelons yourself
Growing your own watermelon plants is quite unproblematic and the germination rate is high. To do this, plant one seed per seed pot about 1 to 2 cm deep from March to April. A temperature of over 18 ° C is necessary for germination, ideally this is 22 to 24 ° C. The window sill is a very suitable place for cultivation and the first seedlings can be seen after 5 to 10 days. As soon as the first leaves appear, the young plants can then be pricked out into larger pots. When repotting, be careful not to damage the roots, as watermelons are very sensitive to injuries.
When propagating watermelons, keep these tips in mind:
- Sow from March to April at a depth of 1 - 2 cm
- Position on a window sill or in a mini greenhouse (min. 18 ° C)
- The first seedlings appear after 5 - 10 days
- Prick into larger pots as soon as the first leaves appear
Buy watermelon plants
A less laborious method than bringing forward seeds is buying young plants that have already been brought forward. You can buy these from May to June in the garden center and then plant them outdoors in the same way. One advantage of these young plants is that they are often grafted on pumpkin rootstocks and are therefore less prone to root diseases. Basically, the purchase is also a question of cost, since larger quantities of pre-grown plants are much more expensive than seeds.
Watermelon: varieties, types and varieties
When talking about watermelon, many people think of the large green fruit with the pink pulp - but the species is actually very diverse. The varieties visually differ greatly from one another, but it is all about the species Citrullus lanatus. There are basically two variations of watermelons:
1. Citrullus lanatus var.lanatus: This variation includes the cultivated watermelons, which are grown commercially around the world. It is the classic watermelon that everyone knows.
2. Citrullus lanatus var.citroides: This wild form of the melon grows mainly in Africa and is also known as the tsamma melon. The pulp of this variation is not pink, but yellowish to light green.
The varieties for cultivation in this country mainly belong to the variation Citrullus lanatus var.Lanatus. Some of them can also grow in Germany's cooler climate.
We introduce some popular watermelon varieties below, a larger list can be found here.
Bush sugar baby
- New breed that emerged from Sugar Baby
- Early ripening with smaller fruits: 2 - 4 kg (1 - 2 fruits per plant)
- Red flesh with a dark skin
- Plant remains quite compact (1 square meter per plant)
- Worldwide popular and popular variety
- Oval and light green fruits; high fruit weight: 5 - 8 kg
- Aromatic light red pulp
- Good resistance to leaf rot and other fungal diseases
- 1.5 - 2 square meters per plant
- Dark skin and deep red pulp; high sugar content
- Fruit size: 6 - 8kg
- The variety is suitable for cultivation in temperate climates and should not be cultivated in rough areas due to the somewhat longer ripening period
- 1.5 square meters per plant
Growing watermelons: proper care
As soon as the watermelon plant has got used to its location in the garden, its growth can hardly be stopped. However, there are a few tips you should follow so that the plant is adequately supplied with water and nutrients.
Properly water watermelons
Watermelons have a high water requirement - not surprising when you look at the juicy flesh. It is therefore particularly important in summer to water the plants sufficiently. The soil should be watered daily, especially every morning, especially during fruiting. Make sure to use only tempered water, as the plant does not tolerate water that is too cold. You can use water from the rain barrel for this, for example. When watering, make sure not to wet the leaves, as this increases the risk of infection with powdery mildew.
Watermelons are considered to be heavy consumers in the garden - a good supply of nutrients is therefore particularly important. Before planting out, it is advisable to first incorporate a primarily organic organic fertilizer such as our Plantura organic tomato fertilizer or compost into the bed. In the further course of the summer, fertilization is carried out again.
Harvesting watermelons: when are they ripe?
The ripening time of watermelons is comparatively long - the large fruits are not harvested until the end of August and into autumn. For the taste it is essential to only harvest ripe fruits, because they only develop their sweet taste over time. To tell if a watermelon is ripe, look out for these signs:
- Dark green skin with yellowish spots
- Dull sound when knocking
- Wilting autumn leaves
The shelf life of watermelons is relatively limited and, ideally, they should be consumed quickly. The exotic fruit can be stored uncut for two weeks at room temperature without any problems. As soon as it is cut, the shelf life is unfortunately shortened very quickly and should therefore be stored in the refrigerator. Freezing watermelons, on the other hand, is not recommended as the fruit consists largely of water and becomes mushy after thawing. You can find out more about the correct harvesting and storage of watermelons here.
If you're more of a honeydew melon fan, this article provides instructions on how to grow honeydew melons.
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I am a geography student and also a hobby botanist. That's why I spend a lot of time in my own kitchen garden, where I grow various types of vegetables with great success. Sustainable and ecological cultivation in harmony with nature conservation is very important to me.
Favorite fruit: figs
Favorite vegetables: eggplant and various types of cabbage
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