Table of contents
- Watermelon Growing Tips
- Watermelon Growing Tips
- The Fruit
- Eating The Fruit
Watermelon growing tips will help you to harvest right at the start of a long hot summer in the tropics. Just slice and slurp!
Growing watermelon in the tropics is worth doing. The watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is a fast-growing herbaceous running vine. It is believed to have originated from northeast Africa.
There are too many varieties of watermelon to name here. However, there are four basic types of watermelon: seedless, picnic, icebox, and the yellow/orange fleshed.
Watermelon Growing Tips
Watermelon grows in the tropics! It also grows well in sub-tropical areas and will also grow in temperate areas if it is planted in the right location. Consequently, in the tropics it will thrive more in the dry season.
The plant does not cope well with extreme heat and humidity that comes with summer in the tropics. This is because fungal diseases and bugs will cause them maximum grief at this time of the year.
Location and Soil
You will need plenty of space for your watermelon vine. Plant watermelon where it will receive full sun. It will tolerate a little wind. However, watermelon prefers well-drained sandy loamy soil. In addition, it loves added manure or compost.
Time needed: 3 minutes.
How to grow watermelon from seed.
- Seeds are not true to type.
Watermelon seeds are not true to type. So obtain heirloom seeds. This way you know exactly what the resulting fruit will be.
- Build mounds
Prepare mounds of soil and sow the seeds into them. This way the plant will drain water faster than it would in soil on flat ground. A 20cm mound is sufficient.
- Sow your seeds
Sow seeds 2cm deep. You should space your plants approximately 30 cm apart.
- Water and Sun
Your watermelon seedlings should be in full sun. Make sure you water them thoroughly, at least once a week.
Most varieties of watermelon will produce mature fruit within 100 days of planting.
Watermelon Growing Tips
Flowers are insect pollinated. We have heaps of native bees, so for us it is never a problem. However, if the insects aren’t doing their job, you can do it yourself by hand pollinating.
Hand pollination of watermelon is best done first thing in the morning.
One of our watermelon growing tips is to apply nitrogen. So use a nitrogen based fertiliser to fertilise young watermelon plants. However, once the plant begins flowering, switch to a phosphorus and potassium based fertiliser for optimal melon production.
During the dry season, watermelons are thirsty, requiring a lot of water. However, it is said that correctly limiting water at the end of the growing season makes the fruit even sweeter.
One of our watermelon growing tips is to mulch. Mulching watermelon is useful in the tropics to control weeds. During the dry season, mulching can also help to retain moisture and save water loss through evaporation.
Pests and Diseases
Blossom End Rot results in dark, sunken lesions on the blossom-end of fruit. This is caused by calcium deficiency in the fruit. This deficiency could be caused by a number of things. Common causes are a) extreme fluctuations in soil moisture, b) large amounts of salts, and c) a soil that is very high in nitrogen.
Harvesting takes place 12 to 17 weeks after planting. One indication the fruit may be ripe is that the curly green tendrils start to turn brow. Another well-known indicator is when you tap the fruit with your fingers and it returns a hollow sound.
Watermelons are 92 per cent water, so consuming the fruit can help one to stay hydrated.
Breeding has produced very sweet large fruits with tender flesh and almost no seeds.
The juicy flesh can be red, white, or yellow. Indeed the thickness of the rind also depends on the variety. The watermelon fruit varies from 1 to 2 kg to 20 kg or even more more! However, the number of fruits per vine varies from 2 to up to 15.
Eating The Fruit
Our growing watermelon tips are all about producing the fruit! Watermelon is eaten fresh, most preferring it chilled. It is also juiced and can even be frozen and eaten as a popsicle.
Health Benefits of Watermelon Growing
As the fruit has a high water content, it contains very few calories per volume of fruit.
The fruit has a high water content, which along with some fibre, promotes a healthy gut.
Consuming watermelon provides a refreshing boost to your immune system. Indeed it has vitamin B6, which aids in the production of red blood cells that are crucial in regulating the immune system in the body.
It also contains Vitamin C which is so useful in boosting your immune system. As a result, this will help protect the body against infections and illness.
Watermelon also contains antioxidants which can help remove molecules known as free radicals from the body. Specifically, watermelon contains a carotenoid known as lycopene which is an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties. Indeed, this carotenoid has been shown to provide anti-cancer, cardiovascular, anti-aging and other health benefits.
The prebiotics in watermelon help to promote good gut bacteria that are crucial to good health.
Growing this fruit in the tropics is well worth it, so we hope you have found our watermelon growing tips useful.
Other Tropical Fruits
- Black Sapote
- Custard Apple
- Dragon Fruit
- Guava Tree
- Kumquat Tree
- Mamey Sapote
- Natal Plum
- Passion Fruit
- Paw Paw
- Star Apple