This is my first year to try watermelon– last year I had great luck with cantaloupe, which really surprised me– so I decided to try. I got the Sugar Baby variety. I re-read Mel Bartholemew’s classic Square Foot Gardening, and figured I could plant them near a trellis so they wouldn’t get too spread out. However the trellis hasn’t been built, so I’ve just been corralling the vines as much as I can!
I have had no trouble with them so far. I picked the first one yesterday after watching and waiting (im)patiently! Here are some things I’ve discovered along the way:
1. Melons are heavy feeders. Square foot gardening says you can plant them 1 per square foot, but make sure you’ve got fertile soil. Fortunately, my compost pile provides lots of nutrition.
2. Melons like LOTS of sun and heat. Fortunately we’ve got plenty!
3. I actually thought of this one myself after digging and digging, trying to find where each vine was planted: Mark where you plant them so you can water at the roots. The vines get so long and intertwined that it’s next to impossible to find the root. You don’t want extra water on your leaves– that can cause problems– besides wasting a lot of time and water. Next year, though, I’m getting taller markers– like paint mixing sticks!
3. How do you know when to pick?
- You can count days, assuming you’ve kept good records and know how long your particular variety is supposed to take to reach maturity. However, I bought these as seedlings so I wasn’t sure exactly how old they were.
- You can “thump.” You want a dull, hollow sound. The only problem is that these sounded right, days ago!
- Do the tendril/spoon test! (Directions below)
This one’s ready. Can you see the little brown spoon and tendril?
Look a little closer:
And here it is! It was absolutely delicious– so juicy! If you’ve never tried growing watermelons, try it!