How often to water melons? - Knowledgebase Question

Studio City, Ca
Avatar for wendy764
Question by wendy764
June 30, 2010
I planted watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe seedlings on May 12. I'd been watering them everyday until about 2 weeks ago when soneone told me to water them only 2x per week. Is 2x per week enough? I do definitely notice that the vines have grown quite a bit since I went to 2x a week, but over the past 5-6 days I'm watering every other day now. What do you recommend? Thank you!

Answer from NGA
June 30, 2010
How often to water depends on many factors such as your soil characteristics, plants, rainfall and weather. There's no "one size fits all" answer, but overwatering is just as detrimental as underwatering, and I'd have to agree that daily watering is likely too much. You don't want to have wet soil, which will drown roots. Roots need oxygen to complete the transfer of nutrients from the soil. Only water if the soil tells you it's needed, not the calendar! Your goal is to water deeply, but as infrequently as possible, so that water soaks through the root zone (about 12 inches deep), leaching salts beyond the roots and developing a strong, drought-tolerant root system. Don't sprinkle lightly. Stick your finger in the soil to a depth of 1 to 2 inches. If it's moist, don't water.

Finally, a 2-3 inch layer of organic mulch such as compost will help maintain soil moisture and can be turned into the soil at the next planting season. I hope some of this info helps.

Regarding vining crops in particular: Keep well watered, but don't automatically apply water if the plants wilt in the afternoon heat. Transpiration (water loss from their big leaves) can be more rapid than the roots can uptake water to replace it during hot weather. If the plants are wilted in the afternoon, wait until morning to water, as they may recover. Overwatering will rot their roots. If still wilted in the morning, they likely need water.

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