Wednesday, July 11, 2012

First Golden Midget Watermelon

Before leaving on a week long vacation, I pollinated a pair of female flowers on my golden midget watermelon plant. When I came back I found this on the vine: my first watermelon of the season. It's got a way to go but clearly this one has a chance. I need to find something to hold it up on the trellis. The vines of the plant are growing fast now and I've had to pinch off several side shoots, limiting the plant to just three vines. The yellowing in the leaves and vine at the base of the plant is slowly progressing up the plant but it doesn't yet look like it will take over. And no sign of spider mites.

A week without me directly watering everything didn't hurt much. Tomatoes and hot wax peppers are ripening, I've got a plump California wonder pepper to pluck, and the basil is lush and bushy. The celery is progressing but I'm guessing it hasn't been getting enough water and the temperatures this past week have been up into the 90's. I should sample a stock and decide what to do with it.


jeannie said...

congrats on your watermelon producing fruit. i tried to grow a sugar baby but the seedling didn't take. i started off indoors but only 1 of 5 survived so i planted it outdoors and then i planted another seed in the same planter which sprouted but then both seedlings withered away. i don't know what happened or maybe it's the soil? i used miracle-gro organic potting mix. i thought this would be fine but then i read somewhere that watermelon plants like a sandy soil?

do you have any tips on having a successful watermelon plant from seeds?

Jeff said...

When I started this one I also started a few sugar baby watermelon seeds and only one of those made it to transplant size. And then it died off a few weeks after being transplanted.

Watermelon plants don't like being transplanted. My transplant success rate with watermelon in containers is only around 50%. That's why I always start way more than I'm going to use. Some people recommend growing them in biodegradable starter pots so you don't have to remove the seedling from its container for transplanting. I can never be bothered though.

I don't think there is anything wrong with your potting soil. It's not unlike anything I've been using. Although it lacks enough nutrients to keep a plant like watermelon growing beyond... a month perhaps. But it wouldn't be a sudden death. You'd have some growth for a while and it would stop growing and the leaves would start changing colours.

A sandy soil would drain faster. Watermelon plants, especially fully grown plants, will drink lots of water. But like most plants, they're roots will not tolerate sitting in too much water for too long. So a sandy soil would solve that problem by helping the water drain away from the roots faster.

I've never used sand in my potting soils but I did have problems with a watermelon one year that I believe started with a potting soil that was too dense (too much compost). The soil was always damp and I was over-watering it. It didn't grow very well until I stopped watering it for a while... then the spider mites moved in.

jeannie said...

thanks Jeff for your advice. i started off with biodegradable pots because i read that they didn't like to be transplanted. and i sowed one seed in the same planter after transplant. do you think it's too late in the season to try again? the garden is in new jersey.

Jeff said...

I do think it is too late to start again, but never to late to experiment. If you can spare a few seeds you could start again to see if you have better luck.