Archive for growing watermelon in southwest florida

Wonderful Watermelons

Posted in Fruits of our labor with tags , , , on September 3, 2011 by PickMeYard

We just harvested watermelons from our yard for the first time.  We’ve never grown them before.  For some reason, I avoided it and I’m not sure why.  We found them easy to grow and oh, so rewarding.

Our watermelon vine taking over.

I started a watermelon plant from a seed.  I did it on a whim and had no expectations for the poor plant.  The seedling grew, I hardened it off and transplanted it smack in the middle of one of my garden beds.  I had some good sized cherry tomato and basil plants in the same bed.  I truly didn’t believe the young watermelon plant would survive.  I gave the seedling sunshine and water, then ignored it.  It seemed stunted to me at first and I wasn’t surprised.  I kept thinking I should just throw the little plant out, but didn’t get around to it.  The next time I checked on it, it was growing wildly in every direction.

The die off can be seen in this photo.

I figured I’d just end up with a ton of vine to pull and no fruit.  The summer weather was really heating up with temps in the 90′s, lots of rain and 80 degree nights.  Watermelons like 80 degree daytime temperatures and 60 degree nights.  They prefer it hot and humid.  Even though watermelon plants need lots of water, too much wet weather can cause all kinds of problems. Our vine had millions of stink bugs on it.  We don’t grow ours for profit so we didn’t even try to fight them.

Can you see the watermelons?

The kids started noticing baby watermelons all over the vine.  They’re really cute.  I let them grow to maturity.  I wasn’t sure when to harvest them so I studied up.  I read that the stems should turn brown and wither and the bottoms of the melon should have a yellowish patch.  The stems never changed from their green color and the the vine started to die off, probably from blight.  I had healthy-looking and enormous watermelons all over the place and they were screaming “pick me”.  I figured I’d better harvest them whether they were ready or not. They looked pretty, but I still didn’t hold out much hope for them. I’ve bought plenty of watermelons at the supermarket that looked beautiful but were completely void of flavor.  

A baby watermelon. Awww...

I let Grayson be the taste-tester.  As we cut into them they burst open with a big pop. “Well, what does it taste like?”, I asked with eagerness.  He replied with gusto that it was the best watermelon he’d ever tasted in his life.  He’s a watermelon lover, so I trust his review.

Homegrown watermelon.

I harvested all the melons at once and ended up with lots of watermelons to give away.   I was asking everybody I knew if they wanted a watermelon.  We gave our goats lots of watermelon too and they went crazy over it.  Now there’s watermelon vines growing where we were leaving the fruit for them.  Good thing we have lots of honeybees!

So, how do you grow a seedless watermelon?  It’s quite interesting.  The seedless watermelon is called a triploid and it is grown next to a seeded variety called a diploid.  Click here for the rest of the story on growing seedless varieties.  We’ll stick to the heirloom varieties in our yard.

My grandmother used to cut up her watermelon and freeze it, then make smoothies with it.  Fresh watermelon juice with mint and salt is one of my all-time favorites.  Check out Mom-a-licious for a watermelon margarita recipe. Don’t forget about watermelon gazpacho.

Sweet melons!

Growing watermelons has now been added to our list of “must grow in our yard”.  We’re going to try some different varieties this time.  We’ll use crop rotation and grow them in a different area of a garden.

Come grow with us!

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