Watermelon, famous and very fresh fruit, loved in the summer season, is the common name for watermelon, belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family and classified with the name of citrullus. The plant is grown in different parts of the country, with a concentration in cities such as Ferrara and Reggio Emilia in northern Italy, and Foggia, Caserta and Lecce in the south. Although watermelon is widespread in much of the south. It is grown exclusively for the large red fruit, covered with the typical green skin. Its fruit is a large berry, also called by the name of peponide. Its cultivation lends itself to areas characterized by a warm and temperate climate, without excessive humidity. In particular, the fruit grows and develops in an adequate way in those areas that are spared from rain during the ripening stage. In fact, watermelon loves heat much more than other fruits, and is very sensitive to frost.
The preferred soil for watermelon is a loose or medium-textured soil that is also deep and rich in organic matter. The opportune moment for tillage, at a depth of 40 centimeters or a little less, will fall at the end of the summer season. An opportune moment to be able to make the most of the humidity of the following autumn, as well as the precious structuring effect that follows the alternation of the freezing and thawing phases. Subsequently, starting from February, we will continue with refinement operations in order to eliminate the unpleasant presence of weeds and set up the bed for sowing.
A good fertilization for watermelon will be done taking into account that the fruit is characterized by high nutritional needs. Therefore, at least 3 quintals of manure or compost will be required for every 100 square meters of cultivation, to be buried in the period preceding the creation of the seedbed.
Watermelon pairs very well with other vegetables, such as onions, carrots and spinach, but also with peas, lettuce and tomatoes. It is advisable not to replicate a watermelon cultivation on the same soil before three years have elapsed from the previous one, in order to favor the rest of the soil and to prevent the occurrence of plant diseases.
It operates in holes or in postarelle, which have a diameter of about 10 centimeters and about 4 centimeters in depth. For open field crops, distances of two meters between the rows and about one and a half meters in the same row will be maintained. Then 5 seeds will be placed inside each furrow at a depth of about 3 centimeters and it will be taken into account that about 50 grams of seed will be needed for 100 square meters of field.
As for open field cultivation, it is sown at the beginning of March and harvested between mid-July and the end of August. It is also possible to anticipate the operations by a month, sowing between the last days of February and the beginning of March in the ground, or in special peat pots. In this case, the harvest will take place between the middle of June and the last days of July.
Watermelon irrigation will be of extreme importance in those areas characterized by high drought or in others that experience unfavorable seasons. However, watering should not be excessive, in order not to alter the main organoleptic characteristics of the watermelon such as its shelf life and the degree of fructose. In southern Italy, after thinning out until the end of June, about seven waterings will be carried out. After the month of June, a period that coincides with the final phase of the production cycle, irrigation must be limited in order to avoid problems of splitting the fruit and the loss of flavor.
You can act with some operations to facilitate the development of the plant, especially in a cultivation in a family garden. To increase the quantity of fruiting, but also its earliness, it is advisable to top the main shoot after the fourth leaf, so as to encourage the subsequent emission of female flowers in the secondary shoots.
The most common pests that can cause serious damage to watermelon are downy mildew, which fortunately attacks in rare cases. More frequently, however, there are cladosporiosis and powdery mildew infestations. Among the most annoying animal parasites we remember instead the grillotalpa, the beetle, the nematodes and the aphids.
The most common varieties of watermelon, between Italian and foreign, are: the Municipality of Romagna, round with light green skin streaked with darker green bands. The Sugar baby, of a more homogeneous green, round shape and small size. The Charleston Gray elongated and slightly curved, with a light green color. The Klondike, also elongated but larger than the previous one, with green and whitish striped skin.
Watermelon has a significant amount of water, mineral salts such as magnesium and potassium, and vitamins, in particular C, B and B6. It has a low calorie intake, therefore it is suitable for low-calorie diets, and also has a rich presence of the important antioxidant substance of carotenoids, typical of red and orange fruit and vegetables.
Watermelon is a typical vegetable of temperate-warm areas, not excessively humid. Of great importance is the absence of precipitation during the fruit ripening phase.
it requires medium-textured soils, even loose, well structured, rich in organic matter, provided with good drainage. The optimal pH is between 5.5 and 6.5. Watermelon requires deep soil cultivation (30-40 cm), preferably carried out at the end of summer, to better exploit the autumn humidity and the structuring effect of alternating freezing / thawing. In February, the refinement processes are carried out to destroy the weeds that have developed in the meantime and prepare the seedbed.
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The best varieties of watermelons
There are several categories of watermelons. It is important to understand the varieties that fall into each category. This way, you will know which option to choose for each occasion.
1. watermelon picnic
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These watermelons are the perfect size for a picnic where many people will gather. They generally weigh between 16 and 45 pounds and take 80 days or more to reach full maturity.
Some varieties of picnic watermelons are:
- Charleston Gray
- Black Diamond
- All sweet
- Soft crimson
2. orange watermelons
The name gives this category. You know you have found a watermelon that falls into the "orange" category because of its orange pulp.
These varieties may or may not have seeds. Whatever works best for you. The types of orange watermelons are:
- The king of the desert
- Yellow child
- Yellow doll
3. Seedless watermelons
Seedless watermelons are a great option if you are someone who hates spitting out those annoying seeds. Know that seedless watermelons have small seeds that are harder to notice.
These watermelons generally weigh between 10 and 20 pounds and take 80 days or more to mature. The seedless varieties of watermelons are:
- The queen of hearts
- The King of Hearts
- Jack of hearts
4. watermelons in the refrigerator
This type of watermelon is often called the "coldest watermelon" because it can be stored in the refrigerator and is enough for one or two people. Watermelons in this category generally weigh only five to fifteen pounds.
The most common variety of this type of watermelon is that of baby sugar. It is small and is a great choice if you want to try watermelon but don't plan to feed a crowd. This variety also fits easily in your refrigerator.
Causes of watermelon splits
There are some causes of watermelon splitting. The most common cause for a bursting watermelon is irregular watering. Whether it is bad irrigation practices or drought followed by heavy rain, excessive water build-up can put pressure on fruit. As with tomato cracking, when plants absorb too much water too quickly, the excess water goes straight to the fruit. Like most fruits, water makes up a large percentage of the fruit. When the soil becomes dry, the fruit forms a tight skin to prevent moisture loss. However, once a sudden surge of water returns, the skin expands. As a result, the watermelon bursts.
Another possibility, besides water, is heat. The water pressure inside the fruit can build up when it gets too hot, causing the melons to split. One way to help alleviate cracking is by adding mulch, which will help retain moisture in the soil and insulate the plants. Adding shaded coverings during excessively hot periods can also help.
Finally, this can also be attributed to certain cultivars. Some watermelon varieties may simply be more prone to splitting than others. In fact, many types of thin crust, such as Icebox, have even been nicknamed "exploding melon" for this reason.
Watermelon fertilizer program
There is no set watermelon fertilizer schedule. Fertilization is determined by the current soil conditions and, subsequently, by the stage in which the watermelon plant grows. For example, is it an emerging seedling or is it in bloom? Both stages have different nutritional needs.
When fertilizing watermelon plants, use nitrogen fertilizer at the beginning. Once the plant begins to bloom, however, feed the watermelon with a fertilizer based on phosphorus and potassium. Watermelons require ample potassium and phosphorus for optimal melon production.
Collection and storage of watermelons
Collecting and storing a watermelon is simple. You will know that the watermelon is ripe from its belly. When choosing a cantaloupe and checking where it has been grounded, if the cantaloupe is white, it is not ripe.
However, if the cantaloupe is white or yellow, you will know it is ripe and ready to be harvested.
When you want to harvest a watermelon, cut the stem near the fruit. You can keep the watermelon uncut for ten days. However, if you cut a watermelon, you will have to wrap it well in plastic and store it in the refrigerator for four days.
Now you know how to grow, care for, harvest and store a watermelon. Now, I want to hear from you. Do you have any advice on how to grow a large and sweet watermelon? We'd love to hear from them!
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