I had never even thought about growing watermelon until earlier this year. That is because we didn’t actually plant any watermelon seeds. Despite this we had four watermelon plants come up in our garden. We’re not sure exactly where they came from; maybe the compost – but we usually don’t put watermelon seeds in the compost!
Perhaps they were lying dormant in some of the aged manure that we dug through the garden in spring. Anyway we may never know where they came from. What we do know is that two watermelon plants came up in the middle of our carrot patch and two in with our peas!
We have now got a total of eight watermelons growing on four vines! They are still only small and probably too late in the season but we are going to try our best to see if we can grow them to maturity.
I love watermelon, especially the old fashioned ones with seeds. I don’t know about you but I think the ones with seeds are sweeter than the ones that are seedless!
We were not actually sure what the plants were initially but happened to be in a local community garden in January and saw the exact same plants and they were labelled as watermelon. Since then I have been reading up on information about growing watermelon.
One of the first websites that I came across (here) with tips for growing watermelon suggested that they should not be grown near cucumbers. It suggested that the watermelon plants and cucumber plants would be cross pollinated and result in funny fruit. If this was the case I was in trouble because some of our watermelon plants are growing right next to the cucumbers!
I have since found another website (here) which states that watermelons and cucumber can’t cross pollinate because they are from a different species – phew!
Growing Watermelon: Plant and Fruit Care
From my reading I have learnt that watermelon plants need hot and dry conditions. Well we have certainly had plenty of that lately! It is starting to cool down a bit now as we approach the end of summer so we are hoping that it stays warm long enough for us to harvest some watermelon.
From what I have read online, it seems that watermelons can take anywhere from 35 to 100 days to mature depending on the variety (and the info source!) The general consensus however seems to be about 60 days.
Our watermelons come from late January flowers, so if the conditions are right we might be able to enjoy home grown watermelon in late March.
Some other plant care tips for growing watermelon that I have learnt include:
- plants need deep regular watering and then reduce watering as the fruit ripens
- water under the plants and avoid watering the foliage
- fertilise young plants weekly with fish emulsion
- mulch around the melons to help retain moisture and to keep fruit off the ground
- look out for pests like cucumber beetle
If you would like further reading on growing watermelon, check out the links below:
Growing Watermelon: When is it ripe?
I have read that watermelons will not continue to ripen once picked so it is important to make sure that the fruit is ripe before you harvest them.
Some sources suggest that the watermelons should be tapped, and when they sound hollow that means they are ripe. Other sources suggest that this method is unreliable and that there are other visual signs that a watermelon is ripe.
I like the following video which shows what to look for when checking to see if a watermelon is ripe:
While we didn’t plant the watermelons ourselves, so far it has been fun watching the plants and the watermelon fruit grow over time. I really hope that we are able to keep the plants growing until the fruit is ready to harvest.
We might just have to plant some a bit earlier next year so we can have another go at growing watermelon at home!
** I have updated the pictures in this post because the original melons that came up in our vegetable patch didn’t turn out to be watermelons! We have however grown them successfully, with the help of the above information, using bought seeds.