Learn how to grow watermelon and add this favorite summertime treat to your garden. Homegrown watermelon picked at the peak of sweetness tastes so much better than one bought at the store.
Watermelon needs plenty of space and at least 80 days of warm temperatures to grow well. If you have both, learn how to grow watermelon with these tips.
7 Tips for How to Grow Watermelon
1. Select the best variety of quality seeds for your climate and location
2. Choose and prepare a good location for planting watermelon
3. Plant watermelon seeds directly in warm soil
Watermelon does best when directly sown once soil temperatures reach 70℉. Plant outside 2-3 weeks after your last frost date. Sow 3-4 seeds 1 inch deep, 4-5 feet apart. Water well with seaweed emulsion after planting. Thin to the strongest plant when plants have 3-4 leaves.
If using square foot gardening, plant shorter bush varieties, plant at the end or corner of a bed and plan on one plant per 2-3 squares.
The best time to plant in the low desert of Arizona is from February 15th through March.
In cooler climates, start seeds indoors in 4 inch or larger pots 1 month before planting outside. Watermelon is very frost tender; wait to plant if there is any danger of frost.
6. Mulch the plant and protect the fruit
Mulch plants well to prevent weeds and conserve moisture.
Once fruit is set, use cardboard or a melon cradle to lift fruit off ground to protect from pests and diseases.
7. Harvest at the right time
Knowing when a watermelon is ripe is often the most challenging part of growing them. Here are a few things to look for:
- Three tendrils along the stem (going back to the root) end are brown, dry, hard, and curled.
- The underside of the watermelon turns creamy yellow or white.
- Low-pitched thump when you hit it lightly – practice thumping unripe melons to hear the difference.
- Sheen of watermelon changes from slick to dull looking.