Growing Watermelon In The Backyard

Growing Watermelon In The Backyard

A warm-season favorite, watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is the crowning glory of many summer backyard vegetable gardens. There are some ways to grow watermelon in your backyard. Spread a 2-inch layer of compost over the site to supply nutrients to the melons. Alternatively, apply 2 cups of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 25 square feet of garden bed. Turn the compost or fertilizer into the top 6 inches of soil with a spade. Pull the blade of a hoe down each side of each planting row to create a 4-inch high mound down the row. Make each mound at least 2 feet long and 1 foot wide. Space the mounds 18 to 24 inches apart. Sow the watermelon seeds 1 inch deep down the center of each mound. Space the seeds 6 to 8 inches apart. Once the seeds sprout, thin the seedlings so there is only one plant every 12 to 18 inches on each mound. Water the melons once or twice per week so the top 8 to 10 inches of soil remains moist and don’t allow the soil to dry out. Watermelons require approximately 2 inches of water per week and will need less irrigation if there is rainfall.

Spread a 2-inch layer of straw mulch over the bed once the seedlings are 6 inches tall. Straw retains soil moisture and protects the developing fruits from soil-borne diseases and pests in your backyard. Water the melons with compost tea every two weeks until the watermelons reach full size. Sprinkle the fertilizer on the soil 6 inches from the base of the plants. Reduce watering once the watermelons reach full size but before they are fully mature. Harvest the watermelons when the tendrils near the vine end of the fruit turn brown and brittle and after the ground spot changes from white to yellow. Cut the watermelon from the vine with a sharp knife.

Outdoor Garden With Watermelon

Outdoor Garden With Watermelon

Watermelons also are prone to mildew caused by humidity and dampness. If your garden is near the woods, remember that wildlife enjoy ripe melons, too.

Outdoor Yard With Watermelon

Outdoor Yard With Watermelon

Watermelons don't tolerate transplanting well, so it's necessary to sow the seeds directly in a sunny location once average daily temperatures reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit and frost danger is past in the spring.

Watermelons In The Backyard

Watermelons In The Backyard

A 10-foot row of watermelon plants will produce 8 to 40 pounds of fruit, which is enough for one to two people. But watermelon yield varies depending on the cultivar and health of the plant.

Outdoor Backyard With Round Watermelons

Outdoor Backyard With Round Watermelons

Although relatively simple to grow, watermelon plants are finicky about their growing conditions and require plenty of space, warmth and water to perform well.

Round Watermelons In The Yard

Round Watermelons In The Yard

Watermelons like sunny, hot weather. Plant seeds once the chance of frost has passed and daytime temperatures reach 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gardening With Watermelon

Gardening With Watermelon

Long, hot summers produce the sweetest watermelons. A few weeks before the end of the growing season, reduce the amount of water to encourage sweetness.

Round Green Yellow Watermelon In The Yard

Round Green Yellow Watermelon In The Yard

A watermelon vine produces both male and female flowers. The male flowers are smaller and appear first. The later female flowers are larger and require pollination by bees to develop the fruit.

Backyard Garden With Watermelon

Backyard Garden With Watermelon

Watermelons grow as annuals in most climates, but short-season varieties grow best in areas with only a short window of warm, sunny weather, such as in rainy coastal regions.

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