Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Growing 95 pound watermelons

My son holding our first giant melon
Well the time has come to harvest our first giant watermelon. This is our first year of growing GIANT melons. For fertilizer I used plain old chicken poop and hay mixed in with dirt. I planted the seeds the end of March right into the ground.

After they sprouted and little melons starting forming It was time to choose the fruit to keep on the plant (there should be only one). Always select the longest with the nicest shape. This will help produce the longest melons.
Here's the steps I used for growing giant watermelons
 1) First and most important Always start with seeds that produce the results that you want. Large melon seeds make good parent stock.
2) Prepare the soil around the plant. I remove the dirt from the plant spot and mix it in a bucket with chicken poop and straw that has composted. I stir it up well and place it back in the hole. Remember that watermelons do not tap deep (about 12 inches), and spread their roots out over a large surface, so prepare a large patch.
3) Since I'm in Texas I plant my seeds in late March. We usually have some cold weather nights so make sure to keep alert on weather conditions. You may need to cover your sprouts to keep them warm on those nights. If you own a greenhouse you can start your seeds in small containers and transplant them later on.
4) When the vines start forming small melons be sure to pour sand on the ground underneath each melon to keep the the ground dry underneath.
5) Later on replace this base of sand with boards like 2x4s or 2x6s to get the fruit off the ground once they are around 50 pounds. This prevents rot. Position board perpendicular to the fruit. Rot is a serious problem and this is the number one thing you can do to prevent rot. Rarely does a melon rot that is on a board.
5) Build a little protection over the fruit to prevent sun scalding. Some 9 gauge metal hoops with burlap sacks hanging over work great. Clip them on with clothespins. It helps keep the skin on the fruit pliable, and keeps the fruit from ripening too quickly. This is extremely important for growing large melons.
6) Water-soluble fertilizers work great and soak in nicely. For this I use chicken manure tea, made by half filling a large bucket with chicken poop, and then filling the bucket with water. After a few days, pour the liquid through a screen and use to side dress the area around the root. This really does work, and I raise some chickens just for this purpose.
7) Do not trim back vines or bury vines.
8) Do not allow vines to get too close to the melon, and especially do not allow the fruit to sit on a vine. The vine will rot and rot will spread to the fruit, and that’s a bad thing. Carefully move melon away from a close vine if you need to.
9) Use drip irrigation since it is very easy, and can be a critical part of growing the giants. Get yourself an old 300-gallon plastic tank from a farmer so you don't have to fill it too often, and buy plastic piping and some irrigation drip emitters. Funnel rain water into this tank if possible.
10) Make sure you don't pick your melon too early or too late.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Even Felix the cat wants some

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