Crops

How To Grow Watermelons

Watermelons are greedy. They need a lot of room to spread, a lot of water, good drainage, lots of sunlight and lots of nutrients. Despite all these needs, they are very easy to grow.  Watermelons grow from seed. However, don’t use seed out of melons you bought because they probably hybrids which are special crosses that don’t grow true to type.

Planting watermelons

Watermelons are heavy feeders. Therefore you need to prepare soil adding compost or rotted manure. The pH of the soil should be 6-6.8, but the plants can also tolerate a pH as low as 5. Work the compost or organic slow-release fertilizer into the top soil. Then mound the soil into small hills spaced about 100 cm apart. If you can, try to cover the hills with black plastic to control weeds,  maintain soil moisture and speed growth.  Plant the watermelon seeds 2.5 cm deep in each hill. When seedlings sprout, thin them to only two plants per hill.

Caring for the plants

Watermelon vines bear female and male flowers. Therefore, some of the male flowers which appear first will fall off shortly after they open. The female flowers which blossom about a week later have a small swelling at the base of the flower. These stay on the vine to bear fruit.

Get rid of weeds before the vines start running because it will be difficult to tackle a weed problem at a later stage without crushing the watermelon plant. You ca also mulch the soil under the vines to help suppress weeds and slow moisture evaporation.

To keep the vines healthy , you need ensure there’s enough water. The plants are very sensitive to drought especially from planting time to when fruits start to form. However, you need to avoid overhead watering. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged, which will kill plants. Therefore, try to water early in the morning so that the leaves can dry throughout the day. Drip irrigation delivers water directly to soil, helping prevent possible spread of fungal diseases among wet foliage. It’s normal for leaves to wilt under the hot sun. However, they shouldn’t stay like that into the evening.

Watermelons need to keep ripening from direct contact with soil to prevent rot and protect fruit from pests. To do this, place the fruit on a bed of straw or cardboard when it’s about the size of a softball. Avoid light-reflecting surfaces such as aluminum foil which can concentrate heat and speed up ripening.

If you’re using fertilizer, use a fertilizer with more nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium during the period between planting and when the first flowers open. Once flowering begins, use a fertilizer with less nitrogen and more phosphorus and potassium.

Some people believe that pinching shoots as watermelons start to ripen causes the plant to ripen well. However, the vine’s leaves produce the sugars that sweeten the watermelon. So, reducing the total number of leaves available for sugar production by trimming actually lessens the sweetness of the watermelon.

Harvesting

Approximately one week before a melon is ripe, only water to keep the vines from wilting. Too much water will reduces sweetness. Watermelons mature within about 80 to 100 days. You’ll know they are ready when they easily break away from the vine when twisted. If you try to pick a watermelon and it doesn’t twist off easily, it probably isn’t ready for harvest yet. Another sign that the melon is ripe is when the underside changes color from white to rich yellow.

11 thoughts on “How To Grow Watermelons

  1. What you are doing is really commendable. Thank you very much for sharing.

    Do you also hold Agriculture Workshops on various topics? Do you have this topic on watermelon in PDF? I would love to have a copy.

    Thank you very much in advance.

    +260967081278

    1. Thank you for visiting Reuben. We’re not hosting any workshops yet but we’ll let you know when we do.
      Unfortunately we don’t have any of our content in pdf. It’s copy protected because it gets redistributed everywhere.

  2. Thank you for the information.very educative.I have never planted water melons before. But a few friends who have done that have told me you have to apply chemicals frequently to protect them from rot.Is that the only way of keeping the fruit safe.I don’t like too much application of chemicals on fruits.

  3. You are really educating me with this invaluable knowledge. I’m only 18 years of age but I want to enter into small scale commercial farming, my favourite is Cashew nut growing. Please don’t stop, keep it up, keep on educating us.

  4. Thank you, this has been helpful. Am thinking of starting to grow watermelons and this has helped me have a perspective of what I’ll be getting into.

    1. Thank you for dropping by Acty. We’ll let you know once we have some information on wheat and Bee keeping.

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