How to Grow Watermelons

comments (24) June 29th, 2010

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Brilliantly colored and dripping with sweet juice, a perfectly ripe watermelon is a refreshing sumer treat.
A flower forms on a watermelon vine.
A sling supports the heavy melons as they ripen.
Brilliantly colored and dripping with sweet juice, a perfectly ripe watermelon is a refreshing sumer treat.Click To Enlarge

Brilliantly colored and dripping with sweet juice, a perfectly ripe watermelon is a refreshing sumer treat.

Photo: André Baranowski

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How to tell when they’re ready

Although determining the optimum maturity of a watermelon can be difficult, the plant provides clues. First, inspect the curly tendril near where the watermelon attaches at the stem. It should be dead or brown.


Learn more:

Video: How to Pick a Ripe Watermelon

From this angle it definitely looks like a fruit.   Photo by Muffet under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

How to Grow Sweet Watermelons

Make Room for 'Moon and Stars'...

Watermelon Carving Ideas


Second, turn the melon on its side and inspect the belly. The underside of the watermelon should be creamy-white for seeded varieties and golden yellow for seedless varieties.

Third, thump. A ripe melon should deliver a deep, low-pitched sound. This has always been a popular way to detect ripeness, but I have found it takes a lot of experience to truly tell the right sound.

And finally, if you’ll notice, watermelons have a shiny, bright green color on the outside as they grow. When the watermelon matures, this coloring will dull. This method of determining ripeness also takes practice, and it amazes me to watch my father-in-law harvest watermelons. He can stand at a distance and tell you if the watermelon is ripe or not. He teases me because, although I have had quite a bit of experience harvesting, I still check for the brown tendril and the color of the belly to be sure it’s ready.

Watermelon recipes

Now that you've grown them, try them in soup, smoothies, relish and salad.

Strawberry Watermelon Soup   Watermelon Smoothie with Cardamom
Strawberry Watermelon Soup 
(recipe by Ken Haedrich)
  Watermelon Smoothie with Cardamom 
(recipe by Didi Emmons)
Curried Watermelon-Rind Relish   Watermelon Salad with Habañero and Basil
Curried Watermelon-Rind Relish
(recipe by Didi Emmons)
  Watermelon Salad with Habañero and Basil
(recipe by Didi Emmons)

by Tracy Wootten
August 1998
from issue #16

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posted in: watermelon

Comments (24)

timonrooster writes: i love it.
Posted: 3:40 am on August 20th
charisbaker writes: Good one...
Posted: 2:01 am on August 20th
ballidhoot52 writes: I love this guide
Posted: 12:29 am on July 27th
lyunmoss writes: watermelon is my favourite.
Posted: 5:53 am on July 26th
DonnaCox writes: want to eat this.
Posted: 2:13 am on July 26th
Dallinlarsen555 writes: good one
Posted: 12:51 pm on October 6th
matthewtweedie writes: very nice
Posted: 12:09 am on September 30th
TonjeFjell writes: I love this guide! Watermelon is one of my favorites!
Posted: 1:34 pm on July 31st
TracyPoren writes: I love to eat fresh watermelon and very good post for how to growing watermelon
Posted: 2:52 am on February 11th
SaireyGamp62 writes: I grow 3 watermelons, Crimson Sweet, Ali Baba (seeds are hard to find but once I found a few have saved them, and the last one is Black Diamond. I usually plant in rich compost with mineral worked into each planting spot. Water the ground well before transplant, then mulch heavily with wood chips, and cut the water off them them last week of July. They ripen at different times so we have melon from August thru Mid- Oct although if frost threatens i harvest and refrigerate

The Ali Baba's are stunning,
Posted: 11:41 pm on December 27th
ZoeyJ writes: I just love watermelons. Last year I`ve tried to grow, but nothing happened. I see my mistake in this article, so this year I'll succeed. Thank you so much for sharing!
Posted: 3:47 am on June 16th
growwatermelon writes: Thanks for this awesome guide
Posted: 10:07 am on November 24th
RiverDivider writes: Are watermelon one time plants or do the stems grow more melons after you harvest them? I'm an extreme beginner :).
Posted: 4:59 pm on May 12th
coolveggie writes: hffv
Posted: 6:35 pm on February 16th
coolveggie writes: when do you plant melons in NJ?
Posted: 6:34 pm on February 16th
coolveggie writes: cool! i will grow some. when do you plant watermelons in jersey. not the cow jersey the state jersey.
Posted: 6:33 pm on February 16th
captscot writes: Hi, last summer I grew two types of watermelon. One a Watson, the other Sugar Baby. Both grew OK and produced about five melons each. The Watson made a typical good ripe melon. The Sugar Baby produced melons from about 8" to 11" in diameter. I waited until late fall, until the plants dried up, to pick them. However, each melon when I cut into them was white inside, not sweet, and obviously not ripe. It is now February and I still have one Sugar Baby left, stored in the house and hoping that this last one might now be ripe, what happened?
Posted: 6:06 pm on February 15th
arconagbuya writes: I am a beginner in planting watermeronls, and as usual, I worry a lot if the baby watermerons will make it through. The soil in our place is dry, and I keep on watering them. The babies are 2-3 inches now and just have 1 true leaf sprouted but I already put them in the ground.

This article informs me a lot. Thank you very much!
Posted: 3:32 am on February 6th
pinkdancer308 writes: sounds simple enough! thantks 4 the advice. i will start growing them soon. i live in the tropics so its hot all through the year :)
Posted: 5:12 pm on September 13th
PrairieGardener writes: I have a question. The vines are getting very long. Should one ever cut them at the end to encourage fruit production, rather than more vines and blossoms?
Posted: 10:36 pm on August 10th
4bboys writes: @kubota2410, sounds like it might be a calcium deficient problem. You should use a high nitrogen fertilizer in early stages, but cut back on nitrogen & give lots of potassium once they flower & fruit.
Hopes this helps :)
Posted: 1:09 pm on July 6th
kubota2410 writes: hello, i planted some watermelons and they have ran out about 4 feet and was looking so good, i had about 12 melons and then they started to rot on the ends. is there any thing i can do to turn them around to grow some good ones,or is it to late? thanks
Posted: 5:07 pm on June 28th
petuniababi writes: This article was so educational!!Last year i was so lucky in growing seven nice sized melons,but picked them too soon.Now i know what to do and maybe this year we can enjoy them.Thanks!!
Posted: 1:48 pm on June 8th
psg writes: A very good article for a beginning watermelon grower like me. And the timing is perfect. I have 4 sugar baby watermelons nearing what tI think might be harvesting size. but I don't want to pick too early. The clues in the artilce give me a much better criteria for picking than just the sound when you thump it. Thanks
Posted: 11:06 am on July 23rd
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