Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.
If you are thinking about growing watermelons this summer, you should check out Willhite Seed Inc. This seed company based in Poolville, Texas, has been specializing in watermelons for over 90 years. They currently offer 51 watermelon varieties! — 22 open-pollinated varieties and 29 hybrids.
Here are a few tips from the good folks at Willhite on growing this dee-licious fruit:
* Watermelons ordinarily are planted early in cold soils.
* Young watermelon seedlings emerge over a longer period of time (up to three weeks) than those of most other crops. One may plant beans, peas, sweet corn, radishes, lettuce, squash, etc., and obtain an instant good stand, but you don’t do this very often with melons — especially when planted by hand. Even under good conditions, it sometimes is difficult to get a good stand when you are growing watermelons.
* Good-quality mature melons are firm, fresh and attractive in appearance with good color.
* Color may vary from deep solid green to gray, depending on the variety.
* Ripe watermelons will have a dull rather than a shiny surface and the underside of the melon will be yellowish in color or beginning to turn from a white or pale green to light yellow.
* The flesh of a cut ripe watermelon should have a fresh, firm texture and bright color.
* Sweetness is largely dependent on variety.
Pictured here is ‘Black Diamond’ watermelon, an open-pollinated variety offered by Willhite Seed. This variety, according to Willhite’s online catalog, is a large melon with a glossy, solid black-green rind. It has deep red flesh that is sweet, tender and crisp and has large grayish-black seed. It is hardy and a good shipper, and the average weight is 40 to 45 pounds. When properly pruned and weather and soil conditions are favorable, one of these melons could weigh 75 to 80 pounds!
For more information on growing watermelons — including how to plant in hills and how to save seeds — see Growing Melons.
Photo from Willhite Seed
Cheryl Long is the editor in chief of MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, and a leading advocate for more sustainable lifestyles. She leads a team of editors which produces high quality content that has resulted in MOTHER EARTH NEWS being rated as one North America’s favorite magazines. Long lives on an 8-acre homestead near Topeka, Kan., powered in part by solar panels, where she manages a large organic garden and a small flock of heritage chickens. Prior to taking the helm at MOTHER EARTH NEWS, she was an editor at Organic Gardening magazine for 10 years. Connect with her on Google+.