Choose a location where your plants will get full sun and good air circulation. A gentle, south-facing slope is ideal. Watermelons can grow in many kinds of soil, but prefer a light, sandy, fertile loam that is well-drained. Add generous amounts of manure, compost and leaves to your garden and work the soil well prior to planting. Watermelons like lots of water. Keep the soil moist at all times.
How to Plant:
Soak seeds in compost tea for 15 minutes prior to planting. Plant in hills 1/2-1 inch deep. For regular watermelons varieties, sow two to three seeds per hill, spacing the hills 8-10 feet apart. Thin seedlings in the hill to two seedlings one week after they have germinated. Small bush varieties may be spaced 3 feet apart.
Transplants: If black plastic was used to pre-warm the bed, cut holes in the plastic and set the plants 1/2-1 inch deeper than they were growing in their containers. Water thoroughly after transplanting.
Watermelons are heavy feeders. Apply a slow release balanced fertilizer during planting. Spray plants with liquid fertilizer and seaweed throughout the growing season. Cut back on nitrogen levels after flowers form. Continue with phosphorous and potassium applications until just before harvest.
Tip: Cover plants with floating row cover to keep the air and soil warm.
Determining when to harvest watermelons can be difficult and requires some experience. For the most part when ripe, the curled tendril at the stem end dries to brown, the underside of the melon turns yellow or cream colored, and the melon will yield a deep, resonant sound when thumped. Allow 80-90 days for bush varieties to reach maturity and 90-100 days or more for the larger varieties.
Insects and Diseases:
Cucumber beetles, aphids, mites, squash bugs, fusarium wilt, anthracnose, alternaria leaf spot, and curly top are some of the problems home gardeners may encounter while growing watermelon.
Seed Saving Instructions:
Watermelons will cross-pollinate, so isolate 1/2 mile from other varieties to maintain purity. When fruit is ready to eat, the seeds are also mature. Collect seeds and wash gently with a mild dishwashing soap. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry.
Powdery Mildew (Sphaerotheca Fuliginea) :
This disease is favored by high humidity and tends to occur on older leaves first. Symptoms first appear as white powdery residue primarily on the upper leaf surface. On the lower surface of the leaves circular patches or spots appear. In severe cases, these spread, coalesce and cover both the surfaces of the leaves and spread also to the petioles, stem, etc. Severely attacked leaves become brown and shrivelled and defoliation may occur. Fruits of the affected plants do not develop fully and remain small.
Control : Carbendazim (1ml/litre of water) or Karathane (0.5 ml/litre of water) is sprayed immediately after the appearance of the disease. 2-3 sprays are taken at an interval of 15 days.
Anthracnose (Colletotrichum Sp.) :
High humidity and moist weather favours the development of the disease.. Symptoms appear on the leaf as black spots, which later turn pink in colour. In case of severe infection the disease spread to the developing fruit.
Control : Repeated sprayings at 5-7 days interval with Dithane M 45 (0.2%) or Foltaf (1 g/litre of water) effectively controls the disease.
Fusarium Wilt (Fusarium Oxysporum f. Sp. Niveum) :
Initially the plants show temporary wilting symptoms, which becomes permanent and progressive, affecting more vines. The leaves of the affected plants show yellowing, loose turgidity and show drooping symptoms. Eventually, the plant dies. In older plants, leaves wilt suddenly and vascular bundles in the collar region become yellow or brown.
Control : Three sprays of Karathane (6 g in 10 litres of water) or Bavistin (1 g /litre of water) immediately on appearance of initial symptoms at 5-6 days interval controls the disease. Leaves of fully grown vines should be thoroughly drenched during spraying.
Downey Mildew (Pseudoperonospora Cubensis) :
It is prevalent in areas of high humidity, especially when summer rains occur regularly. The disease is first seen as yellow angular spots on the upper surface of the leaves. Under conditions of high humidity, whitish powdery growth appears on the lower surface of the leaves. The disease spreads rapidly killing the plant quickly through rapid defoliation.
Control : Excellent control of this disease can be achieved with Ridomil (1.5 g/litre of water) which must always be used simultaneously with a protectant fungicide such as Mancozeb (0.2%) to prevent the development of resistant strains.
Usually pits, ridges or beds are irrigated a day or two prior to planting of seeds and the next irrigation, preferably light, is given 4 or 5 days after planting of seeds. Subsequently the irrigation is given at weekly intervals.In spring-summer crop, frequency of irrigation is very important as water stress during fruit development leads to fruit cracking. Mulching of the hills after sowing reduces moisture loss at the time of emergence and prevents crust formation. It is necessary to keep the moisture well maintained at the root zone, to promote rapid taproot development. Application of water should be restricted to the base of the plant or root zone to avoid wetting of the vines or vegetative parts, especially when flowering, fruit
set and fruit development are in progress. Frequent wetting of stems, leaves and developing fruits will promote diseases and rotting of fruits. Frequency of irrigation is reduced when the fruits reach near maturity while it is completely stopped at harvesting stage.
The fertilizer doses to be applied depend on variety, fertility of soil, climate and season of planting. Generally well decomposed FYM (15-20 t/ha) is mixed with the soil during ploughing. The recommended dose of fertilizer to be applied per hectare is 100 kg N, 50 kg P2 O5 and 50 kg K2 O. Half the N and entire P & K should be applied before planting. The balance N is given 30-35 days after planting. The fertilizer is applied in a ring at 6-7 cm from the base of the stem. It is better to complete all the fertilizer applications just before the fruit set.
For increasing the percentage of female flowers, NAA (100 ppm) is sprayed once at two-leaf stage and the same is repeated after 6-7 days.Gap Filling and Thinning
Under ideal conditions, the seeds germinate within 8-10 days after sowing. One to two healthy seedlings are retained at each spot while the rest are removed or used for gap filling.
Depending upon the season about 2-3 weeding operations is required. The first weeding should be done 20-25 days after sowing while subsequent weeding are done at an interval of one month. When the vines start spreading, weeding in between the rows, or ridges, becomes unnecessary since vine growth can smother the weeds.
n watermelon, apical shoots are pinched when the vines are 1m while allowing the side shoots to grow. This practice gives significantly higher fruit yield. At the initial stages of fruit setting, malformed, diseased and damaged fruits are removed and only 2-3 fruits per vine are retained. This results in increased fruit size and yield.
Watermelons can be profitably grown in the interspaces of newly planted orchards during the initial years provided there are sufficient irrigation facilities.
IARI, New Delhi
Mid-season variety, medium sized fruits with average fruit weight 6-8 kg. The rind colour is light green with deep pink-flesh; TSS 11 to 13%. The fruits ripen in 95 days.
IARI, New Delhi.
The fruit slightly small in size, round in shape having bluish black rind and deep pink flesh with small seeds. TSS 11-13%; average weight 3-5 kg. The fruits ripen in 85 days.
Cross between IIHR-20 & Crimson Sweet; mid-season variety; fruits round, rind colour is light green with dark green stripes and flesh crimson colour, TSS 11-13%. Average fruit weight 6-8kg.
The fruits are round to oval with green rind and dull green stripes. The flesh is deep red, very sweet taste with TSS 12-13%. Average fruit weight is 6 kg. It stands well in transport and storage. Resistant to powdery mildew and tolerant to anthracnose disease.
Fruits large in size with dark green rind, average fruit weight 8-9 kg/ha, moderately sweet with TSS 8-9%.
Early maturing variety, Fruits are round and small with red flesh and seeds, average TSS is slightly lower than Shipper variety.
ARS, Durgapura, Rajasthan
A late maturing variety, fruits are round rind is thick and light green in colour, flesh sweet and dark red in colour, good keeping quality, TSS 11%, average fruit weight 6-8 kg, seed with black tip and margin. The fruit ripens in 125 days.
ARS, Durgapura, Rajasthan
A late maturing variety. Rind is green in colour with stripes; flesh yellow in colour and moderately sweet, seeds are large. Average fruit weight 4-5 kg.
last week, i visited ichr, bangalore for arka manik seeds but they said there were no stock...where can i get those seeds other then there at a reasonable cost? and also i need to ask about many hybrid varieties offered by namdhari, indam & other seed companies...they claim that they grow melons wieghin 10kgs. but the seeds are ten times more costlier than arka manik.. please enlighten me more about these two aspects