Gardening

How to plant watermelon

Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus

Watermelon is a herbaceous plant with branches that can reach a few meters in length. Due to the weight of the fruit, it is usually grown prostrate on the ground, but it can also grow as a vine on supports.

The fruits are rounded or oblong, have a thick skin and a very juicy pulp, which is usually red or pink-red in color, but which can also be yellow, orange or white. The peel can also be eaten, but raw is less palatable, so it is more eaten cooked or sautéed, and can also be used in preserves.

Probably from the Kalahari desert in southern Africa, watermelon has been cultivated for thousands of years, and today there are a large number of cultivars of this plant.

Climate

This plant grows best in hot weather, with temperatures between 20 ° C and 34 ° C. It can also be grown in greenhouses in regions with a colder climate.

Watermelons are usually more flavorful when grown in a condition of low relative humidity.

Brightness

It needs direct sunlight.

Ground

The soil must be well drained, light, fertile, with good nitrogen availability, rich in organic matter, with a pH between 6 and 6.8. Sandy soils are the most suitable.

Irrigation

The soil must be kept moist during the plant’s growth phase. During fruit ripening, a decrease in the frequency of irrigation can favor the production of sweeter and tastier fruits.

Planting

Sowing of seeds is done directly at the final location if the climatic conditions are adequate. Otherwise, the seeds can be sown in pots 10 cm in diameter or in bags for seedlings, which are kept in warm places. Seedlings should be transplanted carefully when they reach 10 to 15 cm in height. In the final location, pits of 30 or 40 cm in diameter and depth are opened, with the soil removed, fertilized and replaced. The seeds are sown at a depth of 2 to 5 cm, placing up to six seeds per hole, subsequently eliminating the weakest seedlings in order to leave only two or three plants per hole. Seed germination usually takes between 4 and 14 days. The spacing can vary from 2 to 3 m between the pits.

Cultivation

The presence of pollinating insects, especially bees, is essential for flower pollination and fruit formation to occur. If the watermelon plantation is small and it is observed that there are no bees and no fruit formation, pollinate the flowers manually with the help of a small brush with soft bristles. There are male flowers and female flowers on the same plant, with male flowers starting to appear first than female ones. In large plantations, the introduction of hives during flowering may be necessary.

Another precaution that can be taken if the plantation is small is to place a bed of straw, wood or other material under each fruit, so that they are not in direct contact with the soil, decreasing the likelihood of attack by pests and diseases. Carefully turning the fruit over a few days can cause the watermelon to have a uniform external appearance.

Eliminate malformed fruits.

Harvest

The harvest of watermelons usually starts between 80 and 110 days after planting, depending on the cultivar planted and the environmental conditions. Ripe fruit usually produces a hollow sound when tapped with the knuckles. Also, if the fruit is not turned regularly to maintain a uniform appearance, the part of the fruit that falls down from whitish to yellow when the watermelon is ripe.

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