Watermelon is a fruit that can be grown in our vegetable garden. There are many species to cultivate but, in the case of small vegetable gardens, it is better to choose Baby Watermelons that are smaller in size. But let's find out how to grow and care for them with useful tips and suggestions.
Watermelon is a summer fruit belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family and we can easily cultivate it in our vegetable garden: its cultivation is similar to that of melon. Watermelon is rich in beneficial properties: it is diuretic, anti-inflammatory and it is rich in vitamins and mineral salts. There are several varieties: the best known have the red pulp, but a peculiarity is represented by the yellow watermelon, a fruit with a very thirst quenching yellow pulp and antioxidant properties. What can we cultivate then in our garden? Much depends on the available space: usually the watermelon is very large and it can exceed 20 kg, so for a small vegetable garden it is advisable to choose a smaller one type, such as baby watermelon. Then let’s discover how to cultivate watermelons: from when to sow them to the harvest.
How to plant watermelon in your garden
Watermelon is a fruit that grows well if you have temperatures ranging from 24 to 30 degrees, so it is a typical summer vegetable: a climate below 14 degrees could in fact block its growth, thus affecting the harvest. The ideal would be to place it in an area exposed to the sun to receive as much light as possible during the day. As for the varieties to be cultivated, as we have already anticipated, many horticulturists are preferring American varieties because they have smaller sizes that usually do not exceed 10 kg, are therefore more suitable for domestic gardens: Italian watermelons, instead, tend to exceed 20 kg. For a small vegetable garden the ideal is the Sugar Baby, a small and sweet watermelon that does not exceed 5 kg. But let's see how to grow it.
The sowing of watermelon must take place in spring, preferably between April and May when the climate is mild and there is no risk of frost. Make holes in the ground 10 centimeters in diameter and 5 centimeters deep: place six seeds in each hole. The holes on the row must be spaced at least one meter while, between one row and another, leave about a meter and a half away.
The soil should be soft, well-drained and rich in nutrients composed mainly of sand, stones and organic substances in equal proportions, so as to be compact so as to retain the right amount of moisture that the plants need to grow.
Fertilization and irrigation
As far as fertilization is concerned, the watermelon must be adequately nourished so it is important to enrich the soil with compost or manure that can also be sprinkled on the surface: the soil will be nourished but also free of weeds, it will also retain heat and humidity necessary for good growth. In cooler conditions the soil can be covered with plastic sheeting but also with straw or dry grass. As soon as the first seedlings begin to sprout, and the first leaves will sprout, separate the small plants leaving one per hole.
Once separated, the plants must be watered frequently, especially during germination and transplantation. With growth we will have to water them more frequently as the roots will go deeper and deeper. But avoid watering before harvesting if you want to prevent the watermelon from losing its characteristic sugary taste.
Collection and storage
Watermelons are harvested about three months after sowing. To predict its ripeness is the skin that from wrinkled becomes smooth, with a "waxy" aspect, but also a slight curve around the joint of the fruit to the plant. Furthermore, to understand if the harvest time has come, you can just beat on the watermelon: if you knock and you hear a thud, then it is ready.
Once harvested, the watermelon can be placed in the refrigerator, where it can be stored for up to 25 days.
Diseases and pests
The watermelon can be affected mainly by parasites such as beetles and aphids, the latter can cause a dangerous disease for the fruit, the viroses, or it can be affected by fungal diseases similar to those affecting the melon. To prevent the attack of aphids it is important to sprinkle the soil with wood ash or using other natural remedies such as garlic and nettle: avoid using insecticides or otherwise do not use them in the morning, when the flowers open, otherwise you run the risk of kill useful insects for pollination. To prevent the beetle from attacking, hoe the soil around the plants frequently.