The Q&A Archives: Problems with Watermelons

Question: I've been trying to grow watermelons for the last couple of years with no success. I tried growing them in my back yard in a spot that gets a lot of sun. The soil type is clay. The watermelon type was Sugar Baby.' The melons got as big as a softball, but then the vines started to wilt. I thought I was providing enough water. Also I tried planting melons in soil made up mostly of soil bought in bags from a garden center and commercial compost, but I didn't get any melons. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Gary Nishimura Chino Hills, CA

Answer: It sounds like you should have had great melons. I think vine borers got in your vines. You can find them by looking for a holes in the vines with a tiny sawdust looking mass. They can be extracted by carefully slitting the vines with a razor and pulling out the grubs. They can be prevented by regularly checking the vines, covering the young vines with a floating row cover until flowering, or spraying with Bt, a safe biological insecticide, when you begin to see damage.

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