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Old 06-01-2012, 10:17 AM   #1
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watermelon Growing watermelon

I’m not a fan of Burpee anything…. that’s for sure. They did do a decent job providing basic cultivation requirements for watermelon though, How to Grow Watermelon - Gardening Tips and Advice, Seeds and Plants at Burpee.com. They said this about watermelon and it’s on the money, “Watermelon is a space hog; vines can reach 20 feet in length. So plant where there is plenty of open ground. Amend soil with organic matter such as compost or composted cow manure.” I grew a few watermelon plants last year and they really do require a lot of real estate. I started some watermelon from seed this year and they’re the only plants I haven’t found just the right spot where they can sprawl like they did last year so they’re still in the greenhouse. I really should get them in the ground. I’m just deliberating over exactly where since they take up so much space and pretty soon… I’ll end up sticking mine in the front yard in this pit we’ve got that we’ve been filling with invasives removed from the wetlands if a place to plant em doesn’t slap me in the face soon.
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Something else mentioned that caught my eye was this, “Watermelon plants have moderately deep roots and watering is seldom necessary unless the weather turns dry for a prolonged period. When vines begin to ramble, side dress plants with half a cup of balanced fertilizer (5-10-5). A third application of fertilizer should be made when melons are set. Withhold water as melons start to mature to intensify sweetness.” I understand the water requirements and I’ve got my black gold compost to satiate the fertilizer requirements but…. I’ve never heard the term side dressing before so if someone could give me the low down on that…. it’d be great. Another thing….. does withholding water REALLY intensify the sweetness? Sounds logical but…. is the taste difference noticeable between plants that continued to receive water and those that didn’t? Just curious if anyone’s done any side by side comparisons.
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Old 06-01-2012, 10:45 AM   #2
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I absolutely love watermelons and have grown the small ones. Big ones don't do well here.
Side dressing is just fertilizing out in the root zone of the plants. At the demo garden we scratched in a bit of alfalfa meal. Along side of the row or out around the base of individual plants, just not up against the plant. You have rabbits, our advisor said rabbit food is a good cheaper version but if in pellets must be covered well with soil not just scratched in. Side dressing once after you start to see the melons form probably is a good idea but since I'm usually just after a few small ones to eat straight from the garden I seldom bother.
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Old 06-01-2012, 11:28 AM   #3
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Ok.... I understand. Fertilize everywhere along the length of the vine where it put down roots not just at the base of the original seedling and.... you even gave me fertilizer ideas I can live with. Our summer rabbit hutches are all outside and sometimes they move their bowls into areas of their runs where rain hits their pellets and cubes so I pitch water logged food as soon as I spot it. I could start putting wasted feed in a 5 gallon bucket to save for this "side dressing" I'm supposed to be doing. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!
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Old 06-01-2012, 12:53 PM   #4
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Gloria's right. Side Dressing doesn't mean anything other than fertilizing it after it's already planted. I guess you put it on the side of the plant instead of below it?

I'd probably pick up a piece of vine, and spread the fertilizer over a portion of where I thought the roots were certain to be. If you're using something that will "burn" the plants, (commercial fertilizer, fresh chicken or horse manure) be sure to cover it with dirt so it doesn't touch your plant. But if you're putting compost or rabbit poo, I don't know that I'd worry too much about that.

Whatever your fertilizer of choice, put more than you would for most other plants. I understand that commercial growers use a LOT of it for watermelons - a ton per acre.
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:34 PM   #5
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Equil- I don't know if you have the space or need but I knew a Guy and he would get a yard or 2 of Composted manure in the spring dump it and leave it in a big pile and sow the watermelon or cantaloupe which ever he would grow that year right in the top of the pile. The vines would grow down and cover the pile and at the end of the season he would use the pile to put the rest of his garden to bed for the winter and start with a new pile in the spring. Just a thought I see manure for free on craigslist all the time maybe if you get some fresh in the fall and let it sit over winter and plant in the spring? Just a thought hope it helps.
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Old 06-02-2012, 11:43 PM   #6
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An alternative way to grow melons in compost (see photos)

I have four of these "instant" compost circular fence rigs set up. Easy to do with a few posts and zip ties.

  • I fill them to the top with garden refuse and leaves in the fall.
  • Come spring, I remove 2/3 of the compost and place it under my raspberries and grapevine plants. No need to haul compost across the yard from my main compost pile. That's why I call it "instant" compost.
  • I leave 1/3 of the remaining compost in the circular fenced area. Stuff a recycled bird seed bag around it (to keep mosture in) and plant melons or gourds in them. Works great!

Growing watermelon-img_0981.jpg Growing watermelon-img_4242.jpg Growing watermelon-img_4243.jpg Growing watermelon-img_4244.jpg Growing watermelon-img_4247.jpg
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Old 06-02-2012, 11:50 PM   #7
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Two years ago we had pumpkin vines growing in the middle of our compost pile. We hadn't planted them, they'd just sprouted from seeds from the previous halloween's jack-o-lantern. The vines grew huge, climbed over the 6 foot fence, and produced several large pumpkins along the way, some in the neighbor's yard (to the delight of their kids!). I imagine watermelon should grow that way, too!
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