first time for watermelon

mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)March 30, 2014

I have a much bigger garden now and love watermelon so naturally I want to give it a try. I have sugar baby seeds. My plan is to try a vine or 2 on a trellis but my trellis is not straight up. I attached wire fence to the top of the 6' chain link and angled it down to a point about 3 feet out from the bottom. I also will do cantelope and cukes on another trellis the same way. I know a couple thing about them so any other advice would be great. Also might try a bigger type just for fun.

1. I know they Dont naturally climb so I'll help them and ill also let one sprawl if I have space.
2.I read that they Dont transplant well and peat pots are suggested if I try to start early. Is that worth it or should I just wait and start them in the garden?

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I want to try watermelons again this year, but I don't trellis mine. My cukes do well on a trellis, cantaloupes drop from the vine so easily they will have to be supported, I plan just letting mine run over the lawn. If I have the time and room I will try to start mine inside, and, or warm the ground with black plastic. After saying all of that, the best cantaloupes I have grown just came up wild in the compost pile.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:03AM
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Mike I am not an expert but I have great germination direct sowed. big beautiful plants.
my problem has been getting great production. Last year I got a few tiny mature ones and the rest died in the cold.

Thanks for the idea on the sloping trellis I am going to do the same. I have just the piece of fencing for a few plants.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:08AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Mike, You can sow the seed indoors if you want, but it also sprouts quite easily and quite quickly in the ground if direct sown. You need to wait until the soil temperature is around 70 degrees before you direct sow. I've grown it both ways. The only real advantage to raising seedlings to transplant outside is that if you start the seedlings indoors and put them in the ground once the soil temperature hits 70s degrees, you might get ripe melons a week or two earlier than from seed sown directly in the soil. Watermelon plants are very sensitive to cold weather, so starting them early outdoors tends to not work out well as they won't grow well in cool soil or cool air temps and will just sit and sulk.

I have trellised everything you can grow on trellises, including Sugar Baby and it did just fine when grown that way. I trellis most all of my melons some years, depending on how much space is available for them. Now that I have the new (well, new last year) garden out back with mostly sandy soil, I can just let them sprawl on the ground if I choose. When you grow them on a trellis the melons can be more exposed to direct sunlight than when the plants sprawl on the ground, and if they get too much sunlight they can sunburn. Usually the weight of the developing melon makes it hang down beneath the foliage when it is trellised and it will do just fine. If you see a melon on a trellis that is too exposed to sunlight as it ripens, try to rearrange the plant a little on the trellis so leaves will protect the melon from sunscald.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 9:52PM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

thanks everyone!

Dawn. I built my trellis at an angle so the fruit would hang below and the leaves would be on top. At least that is my plan, although it still waits to be tested. I started some in peat pots tonight and I was thinking I would also start some direct around May 1st and see if I can stagger the ripening. Will that work?

2 years ago a did cantaloupe and it was the best tasting ever. Last year my vines got eaten by bugs but that was at my other place.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:48PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Mike, It ought to work as long as the weather cooperates. In Oklahoma, you just never know.....

Sometimes the plants put into the ground later will catch up and produce at the same time as the ones that went into the ground earlier. That's because the earlier plants were growing in cooler soil and air temperatures, so were growing more slowly.

I stagger corn plantings the way you are planning to stagger your melon plantings, and some years it is perfect and we have a long corn harvest and other years the later plants catch up to the earlier ones and all the corn is ready at once. That's part of what makes gardening interesting though---trying to figure out how to get things to occur how and when you want.

When I am trying to spread the watermelon and cantaloupe harvest out over a longer period of time, I plant multiple varieties with different DTMs at the same time and that works fairly well. We still have too many ripe melons at the same time sometimes, but it is a burden we've learned to tolerate. If the worst thing about a person's summer is that they have too many sweet, yummy and delicious home-grown melons, then it has been a pretty good summer.

If you get too many melons at once, you can freeze the melon in the form of melon balls or chunks. To eat the melon later, thaw it out only halfway and then eat it. I think of it as a natural popsicle.

When we really have too many melons, I feed them to the chickens. Yes, our chickens are terribly spoiled.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 7:35PM
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wulfletons(Zone 7a)

I direct sowed mine last year (planted them about the same time and n the same bed as my okra). The plants germinated very well and they provided great living mulch to the okra plants. Unfortunately all the fruit rotted at the blossom end long before the fruits got totally ripe...I'm assuming from inconsistent water, although I really didn't feel like I had been inconsistent. I hope you have better luck than I did! Let us know/

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 7:58PM
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