Growing Watermelon - Knowledgebase Question

Round Hill, VA
Question by renepettit
January 3, 1998
Can I successfully grow watermelon from seed in my area (zone6/7)? I am not good at starting transplants from seed, but I really want watermelon.


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Answer from NGA
January 3, 1998

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You certainly should be able to grow watermelon in your zone. I am in zone 6 and have done so successfully. When you start from seeds you need to make sure you are using a sterile soilless mix. I recommend that you use peat pots - they are good to use so the roots won't be disturbed when you transplant. Don't overwater the seedlings (don't let them dry out either, check every day), be sure to provide an even light source for them (a fluorescent light suspended 1-2" above the seedlings is great). If you don't have a fluorescent light and are using a window, be sure it isn't drafty and be sure to turn the seedlings every day so they don't get leggy stretching toward the light. Fertilize with a diluted version of an all purpose fertilizer such as Miracle Gro (no more that 50% strength) every other day substituting the fertilizer solution for watering. When the seedlings appear and have grown a bit, snip the weakest seedlings out to leave one plant. When you transplant to your garden be sure to trim away an inch or two of the top of the peat pot and make sure all the pot is buried. If any is left at or above soil level it can wick water away from the plant. Watermelons like rich soil. When you are preparing the gardensoil outside add in generous amounts of composted manure. I also find it beneficial to use black plastic to prewarm the outside growing area. You can use a fertilizer with a slightly higher phosphorus content (the second number in the analysis) than the other nutrients to side dress when fruits appear. Keep the plants growing on black plastic to retain a warm growing soil and keep them well watered throughout the growing season, keep on top of watering especially during fruit production. You didn't ask for a variety suggestion, but may I suggest 'Crimson Sweet' and/or 'Bush Sugar Baby'. They are two of my favorites and both are available from Burpee.

You'll get a jump on the season by starting seeds indoors, but youshould be able to direct seed (that is, plant seed right into the garden rather than starting indoors). Choose shorter season varieties. Fordhook hybrid matures in just 74 days.

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