Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus)

When to Plant

Sow directly into the garden once the danger of frost has passed or for an earlier crop, start indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost using 3-4” Jiffy peat pots and make sure to weather/harden off the plants before setting them in the ground.

When transplanting, take great care not to disturb the root system.

Location/Soil

Best when planted in a rich, moist, well-drained soil in full sun. Transplants should only go into the garden once soil is completely warmed. Plants will do better if there is some shelter from winds.

Planting & Growing Information

Sow seeds 2.5 cm (1″) deep and sow 5-6 seeds per hill or 5 cm (2″) apart. Plants should be spaced/thinned to 2-3 plants per hill or 15 cm (6″) apart. Rows should be spaced 1.5-1.8 m (5-6′) apart.

Seeds germinate in approximately 5-7 days.

Days to Maturity

From date directly sown in garden.

Other Information

Adequate moisture is essential during the growth of the plant and during pollination while fruits are setting. After this, water only when soil becomes dry as high rainfall or excessive irrigation as the melons near maturity will adversely affect fruit flavor.

Water around the base of the plant and be careful to avoid splashing dirt onto the leaves which can transfer diseases from the soil to the plants.

To improve the chances of having nice sweet matured fruit by the end of the season, it can be helpful to limit the number of fruits on each plant (by removing blossoms) after you have 3-4 watermelons forming which will allow the plant put all its energy into those remaining fruits.

Harvesting & Storage

Watermelons that are allowed to ripen on the vine have the best flavor so if possible protect plants from light frosts.

Check under the melon – if it has a yellow or light colored bottom, it should be ripe. If its stripes are found all around the melon it’s just not ready yet.

If you have a good ear, tap on the watermelon: if it sounds hollow, it’s ripe. Not hollow, unripe.

Companion Planting

Likes: Corn, radish