I am trying to grow crimson sweet watermelon this year and the plant is
growing really slowly. Compared to the pumpkin and cucumber we planted
it is really lagging in its growth. We started with only 2 plants and
one died and the one that is still hanging in there had some problems
with wilting but it pulled through and now its growing ok but really
slowly and the stem is still fairly thin.
I am in Northern New Jersey and I started thes plants around the end of
may and transplanted them in early june.
I'd appreciate any tips and info on growing watermelons.
without more details, it'd be difficult to really know for sure why your
plants aren't growing well. let's start with a few questions. are you
growing the watermelon in the same ground that has grown cucumbers/squash
related plants for a # of years? they are in the same genetic line and share
many diseases, as well as drawing many of the same nutrients from the soil.
so planting the same types of plants in the same area year after year works
against u 2 ways - diseases become resident in the soil and the soil slowly
loses the nutrients those plants most need. a combination of crop rotation
and nutrient replacement (hopefully thru organic means) helps with this
you mentioned that your squash/cucumbers are doing better. it's been my
experience that they are less fussy than melons (especially squash).
u're down to a single plant that had to overcome "wilting" during the time
it was probably trying to get established. many plants never fully recover
from such trama. secondly, it's hard to say melons won't do well in your
garden based on a single plant. if u had 10 plants in place the other 9
could be doing very well. i plant around 20 melons every year, it seems
there's always a hero and a runt in every batch.
lastly, why are u growing a "southern" melon that far north? nurseries all
across the north should be selling watermelons more suited to our shorter
growing seasons. for 5 years i attempted to grow crimson sweets. each year
i'd get gigantic melons (sometimes 30 lbs or more) that would rarely ripen
before our first frost (zone 5 here - 1st hard frost around oct 1st). one
year i found a nusery that carried a variety called "yellow doll" (also
known as "yellow baby") so i gave them a shot. even in our coolest summers i
get boatloads of ripe melons from this variety. don't let the yellow flesh
bother ya, they are awesome tasting (ppl prefer them in blind taste tests).
my kids are so used to them that they think the reds are the unusual ones.
Nothing grew there except for grass. I dug up the grass and planted
the 2 watermelon in this spot by themselves. I had planted a dozen
seeds but I only got 2 to germinate.
I just picked this seed pack because our 6 year old son wanted to pick
it. I didn't realize this variety was meant for warmer climates. It's
been really warm up here lately though.
I think I should have let the watermelons grow a little longer indoors
before transplanting them.
Hopefully this one plant will pull through and produce something.
Thanks for the feedback,
Watermelon does not transplant well, They could have been stunted
before you transplanted. For transplants you can do little more than
germinate them. They also do not like clay soil. Other than that they
are a lot easier to grow than squash. Vine borers and their associates
don't bother them.
Good morning Steve,
Probably the biggest reason watermelons don't do as well in the North, is
because most of them need a high germinating temp, 60 or above. Then, if
you transplant them and the temp falls to around 50, they get "set back", or
stunted in their growing process.
The second reason, and this is just my opinion which is not based on facts,
is that when you start your plants indoors, it is critical that you
transplant them on time. Melons, squash and others have a tap root. This
root goes down several feet to provide the plant with water. I haven't
actually compared the results, but melon plants I have transplanted after
they were already pretty big, needed to be watered nearly every day. People
I knew that raised melons and actually planted the seeds in the ground,
didn't water nearly that often. I feel that the tap root on my transplants
had gotten root bound with the rest of them, rather than what it was
intended to do.
Try planting the seeds in the ground next year, but not too early. If it is
too cold, they wont germinate until it warms up enough for them. It that
takes too long, they will mold in the ground, unless coated with a fungus
preventing solution (some I bought were red from the coating that the
supplier had used).
yes, in the North there are two solutions to this, one is to do what
Steve in the Adirondacks does (make a trench with hot manure, that will
heat the soil) and the other is to plant the seed under cover
(hoophouse or tunnel). I have myself noticed how much variation there
is in my transplants, some cuke plants start pumping cukes by late
June, and other plants remain small and start fruiting a month later.
Next year I am going to combine both methods, as I will take the plunge
with both watermelons and melons. Thanks for the Yellow Doll tip.
well, most melons don't do well in the north. if u pick melons that are well
suited to the north, such as the smaller yellow-fleshed varities you'll do
fine (assuming all other conditions are good in your garden).
to inspire all you northern gardeners who don't think they can grow melons
as far north as michigan (or other zone 5 areas), please check out the
following pics i took over the weekend.
first pic is of the 1/2 of my garden that has my melons (90% yellow doll's,
10% dark belle - an asian variety i'm trying out this year):
this next pic is of a dark belle melon fast on its way to maturity, it
should triple in size from here:
this one is of a yellow doll variety, this should at least double in size
there's other garden pics in there if anyone's curious. we will harvest far
more melons this year than we can possibly consume. even on the chilliest
summers here, our transplanted melons perform very well - again, it's a lot
to do w/ the variety, yellow doll (or yellow baby).
Thanks for posting your melon pics! I never grew watermelon so I was
expecting bigger leaves and vine. Now that I've seen these pictures I
think our plant is doing ok although it is still lagging behind yours.
Our plant hasn't produced any flowers yet. Hopefully it will soon.
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