Watermelon is a perfect nutritious summer treat that keeps you hydrated. For most home gardeners, watermelon can be a fun fruit to add to the growing season. Watermelon is relatively easy to grow outside in climates with plentiful sun or in greenhouses in cooler climates.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about growing watermelon outside this summer. This way, you’ll have it on hand to eat on its own, or use in salads, salsa, and beverages, all season long.
What You Will Need:
- Watermelon seeds
- Healthy soil mixed with compost or manure
- Shovel or spade
- Large knife
- Spacious garden/adequate room
- Three to four months of warm weather
A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Grow Watermelon Outdoors
Step 1: Prepare the Soil
Watermelons require nutrient-dense soil to grow to their full potential. To enrich soil prior to planting seeds, you can mix it with compost or manure. Watermelons grow best in soil that is not too dense and drains well. Prior to planting, make sure there are no hard clumps or rocks in the soil. between 6.0 and 6.5 is a good pH to grow your watermelons.
Step 2: Dig the Perfect Row
Watermelons do their best with plenty of space and lots of drainage. When you dig your rows, make sure to create raised rows in which to plant your the seeds. Raised rows can help create a better drainage system and help ease weed removal. If you are planning to sow multiple plants, make sure to dig long rows to guarantee adequate space. Watermelons require three to five feet of distance between each seed. If you have the room, you can allow for more space in between each raised row to make walking easier during the harvest season.
Step 3: Plant the Seeds
As mentioned before, watermelon seeds should be planted three to five feet apart in each row. First, you can lightly mist the soil with a garden hose so that the watermelon seeds have adequate moisture when planted. The soil should not be too dry or too wet before planting your seeds. Next, sow two to three watermelon seeds in ½ to 1 inch holes and cover with soil.
There are several varieties of watermelon and depending on the climate where you reside, choosing a variety with a shorter or longer growing season will be a factor to consider. If your location sees frost earlier in autumn than other places, you will want to choose a watermelon variety with a short growing season, such as sugar baby, yellow baby, or golden crown.
Step 4: Care for your plants
Watermelons require one to two inches of water per week. You will need to water your melon patch with a hose to supplement rainwater. The watermelon plants should be watered during the morning, near the base of the plant. Avoid water contact with leaves, as this can scorch leaves on a hot and sunny day.
Watermelons require pollinators to create fruit, so it’s important to create a garden environment that supports pollinators. You can plant other flowering vegetables or flowers to attract pollinators to your garden, such as lavender, marigolds, and pumpkins.
When watermelons begin to grow and become low hanging fruits, you can place straw between the fruit and the ground to create a barrier. This barrier will help protect the fruit from rotting.
Step 5: Harvesting your watermelon
Oftentimes, watermelon from the grocery store can be under ripe. This is because watermelons do not continue to ripen once picked. Growing watermelon at home is the best way to ensure ripeness and flavor. To make sure your watermelon is ripe before picking it from the stem, you can make a fist and lightly thump the watermelon. If the watermelon sounds hollow, it should be perfectly ripe. Visually, you can tell if a watermelon is ripe by the color of the side of the fruit resting near the ground. If it’s more of a cream or yellow, you’re good to go; if it’s white in color, the melon most likely requires more time to ripen.
Watermelons can take anywhere from 70 to 100 days to grow, so this is a fruit for patient gardeners. But, nothing is quite as rewarding or tasty as homegrown.
Patience is Key
This guide has shown you everything you need to know about growing watermelon outdoors. Remember to talk with local gardeners and do your research before choosing the perfect watermelon variety for your climate.
If you enjoyed this article make sure to share it with your friends, and in the comments below! Tell us which variety you decided to grow, and your favorite way to use this wonderful fruit.