The Q&A Archives: Watermelon Seed Starting

Question: I purchased Crimson Sweet Watermelon Seeds, Lot 3, packed for 1998. Since I live in the Northeast, I decided to start them in peat pots before transplanting them into my garden. 5 weeks ago I planted them in peat pots, 1/2" down and kept the soil moist. Nothing. 2 weeks ago I decided to try keeping the seeds between 2 moist paper towels...nothing. My other vegetable seeds that I started early have sprouted so I'm not sure what I've done wrong with these seeds. Any help would be appreciated.

Answer: Watermelons are warm-season crops and grow best when both the soil and the air temperatures are warm. Your plan to start the seeds indoors and the transplant seedlings out into the garden is a good one. Since you've had success germinating other seeds, you obviously know the basics. Sow watermelon seeds about 1/2" inch deep. They'll take form 7-15 days to germinate at 70F to 90F degrees. You'll probably have to provide some bottom heat to your watermelon seed-starting flats to get the seeds to germinate. There are several heating cables and special seed-starting heating pads available on the market. Or, you can wait and plant your seeds outdoors when the soil warms up.

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