I need watermelon help!

TruscifiApril 14, 2013

My son's watermelon plants are taking off. They made it through the late frosts thanks to a thick blanket of mulch, and are spreading like crazy, and we have seen quite a few little baby watermelons. Unfortunately so far none have gotten bigger than a large pea. They seem to just disappear. I would like to help my son have a good crop, but I've never grown watermelon before and I have no idea what I'm doing, lol! Any suggestions would be helpful!

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thetradition(9b)

The fruits aborted because they didn't get pollinated properly. Lot's of things can cause this... too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, incomplete pollination, etc. Plants will hold on to a fruit or two when the conditions are right! The best thing to do is keep the water consistent and your plants fed. Watch for fungus and bugs and be prepared to begin a spray program if/when necessary.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 12:04PM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

You can try hand-pollination. It's pretty simple; just pluck a male flower, remove he petals & rub the stamen on the female flower's pistil. Male flowers lack the tiny embryonic fruit @ their base.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 1:10PM
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Truscifi

That sounds like an excellent job for my son. He's hoping to get a good crop so he can sell some this summer. I'll have him start on it tomorrow!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 9:13PM
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L_in_FL(8B/9A Border, NW FL)

Checking the plants daily for flowers and hand-pollinating works - I've done it. It does get old after a while.

To avoid needing to hand-pollinate in the future, the best thing you can do is keep bee-attracting flowers near the watermelon patch year-round - or as close to year-round as possible. After a while, the local bees will be accustomed to looking for food in your yard. If the bees are visiting your yard regularly, they'll find the watermelon flowers and take care of the pollinating for you.

There's a lot of watermelon season left, and bees like melon flowers. So the bees will probably find your watermelon plants eventually even if you don't plant more flowers. But if you get more attractants out there you'll catch the bees' attention sooner.

Here is a link that might be useful: Flowers for Bees

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 9:57AM
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Truscifi

Hmm. I have azaleas, cukes, zukes, basil, and sage now, but I took some time off from the garden when I had my little one so there was nothing out there for almost a year. I'll have to make sure I have something for them every season from here on out. I wouldn't mind a few butterfly bushes too. Maybe they would help keep the caterpillars off my veggies too. Thanks for the link!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 10:34AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Audra,

Part of the problem now is the citrus are blooming and it draws the bees away. You will only get 2-3 watermelon (if they are full size type) per vine anyway.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 7:32AM
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Truscifi

Darned citrus! ;)

They are minis, should get 6-8 lbs each. Hopefully he will get at least 3 per vine. He went out yesterday and today and hand pollinated. He plans to do so every day until some start to grow. Keep your fingers crossed for him!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 6:58PM
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Truscifi

My son has been dutifully hand pollinating every day, and he now has 4 grape sized watermelon babies! He is very excited. Hopefully these will grow well. Thanks for the help, and if anyone has any other suggestions we are all ears!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 5:14PM
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thetradition(9b)

Don't let the fruit lay on the ground! Put a brick, a rock, an overturned saucer, boards or something that won't hold a pool of water under the fruits. This will help keep them from rotting. However, your biggest challenge will be consistent water, but not too much (it'll make them split before they're ripe). If you have hungry critters that might attack the fruits, cover them with a laundry basket with a few bricks on top to hold it down.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 5:36PM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, F

And here I was hoping this was seeking help in EATING watermelons. *sigh* I guess I can put up my fork and salt shaker...

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 8:40PM
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