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Crop Profile

Photo by Lisa Munniksma

Watermelon

Homegrown watermelons are as sweet as you can get. Smaller-fruited varieties like Petite Treat and Sugar Baby are good choices for smaller households. Yellow-flesh varieties have a sweet, mellow flavor and are good for gardeners wanting to try something different.

Size: Vines grow up to 10 feet long.

Sunlight requirements: Full sun (A minimum of six hours of direct sunlight is ideal.)

Water requirements: About 1 inch per week

Soil requirements: Average, well-drained garden soil high in organic matter. Melons prefer soil that is consistently moist and temperatures that are hot. Mulching with black plastic keeps the ground warm and moist, especially helpful in northern climates.

When to plant: Seeds can be sown directly into the garden when soil temperatures reach a minimum of 65 degrees F. For better results, start seeds indoors in peat pots three to four weeks before planting outside.

Where to plant: Garden (Trellis vines to keep fruit off ground and save garden space.)

When to harvest: 80 to 100 days. Harvest when the tendril closest to the stem is dry and brown and a yellow spot forms on the fruit’s underside.

Product storage: Store at 45 to 50 degrees F in high humidity.

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