The watermelon, with the scientific name Citrullus lanaus , is one of the most popular fruits to consume when the warm months arrive. Its sweet and refreshing flavor is one of the best companions of spring and summer and, therefore, it is worth making a place for this tasty cucurbit in our garden.
If you want to learn how to plant watermelons , join us in this article where you will see a practical guide on how to plant a watermelon seed step by step and more tips to grow and harvest it.
When is the watermelon planted
Watermelon seeds need a temperature of at least 15 ºC to germinate, and it develops in an ideal setting of between 23 and 30 ºC. Due to this, it is usual to plant watermelon seeds in spring , around April and May in Spain, when the risks of frost, which would kill the seedlings, have already passed.
However, as long as you keep this temperature frame and your local climate in mind, you can plant your watermelon seeds earlier if time permits. Another option at your disposal is to plant the seeds in a seedbed and keep them covered in a controlled environment, to later transplant the watermelons outside when the temperature rises. With this method, you can advance the entire process between 2 and 3 months.
How to sow watermelons step by step
- Prepare the ground: if you are going to plant your watermelons directly outside, you will need to clean the soil of weeds and remove it to aerate it and loosen it. Break up large clods and leave everything even and light, so that their drainage is as good as possible. Watermelon is a plant that needs good humidity levels, but at the same time it is sensitive to fungal attack, so proper drainage will be vital in its cultivation. It is also not a very demanding plant with the nutrients of the soil, so you do not need to add organic matter at this point.
- Distribute the distances: this plant develops a lot, so it will be necessary for you to assign each plant about 2 meters of space between others, both in the same row and between different rows.
- Dig the holes: the seed does not need to be very deep, but we will make the largest hole to prepare a bed with some organic matter. About 10 cm deep will be enough.
- Add organic matter: the ideal is to use worm humus , which is a very complete and beneficial organic and ecological fertilizer . If you don’t have it, compost is also a good option. Add to cover three-quarters of the hole.
- Sow the watermelon seed: leave the seed on top of the layer of organic matter that you just put, finally, just covered with soil.
- Mulch and water abundantly: with watermelon, it is advisable to be especially careful with the development of weeds, so mulching the soil is a very interesting option, which will keep adventitious weeds away and at the same time increase the temperature of the soil. Afterwards, water abundantly but without flooding.
- Final recommendations: if when your seedlings germinate and start to grow you see a wave of cold coming, you can use bottles or jugs of water with the base cut off and without a cap as improvised greenhouses, which protect them from the worst of the cold.
Basic watermelon care
These are the basic care of watermelons :
- Soil: very good drainage needed. It is not demanding in organic matter.
- Irrigation: frequent. The soil must be kept constantly moist or the fruits will crack. Without puddling or wetting the plant.
- Climate: it needs temperatures above 20 ºC to develop optimally. It is very sensitive to frost, which will wreak havoc on the crop.
- Light: it requires a lot of sunlight, from its very germination. In the early stages, the seedlings run the risk of thawing if they do not receive enough light, an especially important detail if they are planted in a seedbed for later transplantation.
When to harvest watermelons
Watermelon is one of those plants in which the time of harvest may not be as obvious as we would like, and it takes a good measure of experience to learn to distinguish the exact point of harvest from the fruit. Here are some tips for knowing when to harvest watermelons :
- Usually, the harvest time will arrive between 2 and 3 months after transplanting it to its final location outdoors.
- Another clue that the plant itself gives us is when the tendril that develops where the fruit joins the plant is already completely dry.
- The last sign is when the part of the fruit that is in contact with the ground shows yellow markings.
How many watermelons does a plant give
The production of each watermelon plant is quite variable and depends largely on how optimal the conditions in which the plant is developing are.
The most common is that the production remains at a number of between 2 and 3 watermelons . It is possible that the plant produces a single fruit, as it is also possible that it produces more than 6, but in the latter case it is difficult for all of them to be of good quality for consumption.