growing watermelon

This was our first time growing watermelon in our Florida food forest, and it was a total success.

The first week of April, we planted 2 four packs of watermelon transplants from Rockledge Gardens along a 50-foot section of weed cloth spread across the field.

I cut holes in the cloth, every 2 feet with a hook knife. Later, I felt I should have spread them further apart, but they ended up running through the grass, not the cloth, so it was never an issue.

50-foot weed cloth with holes cut for watermelon transplants.

I used a small hand shovel to break up the soil through the hole and moved aside the dead grass.

After carefully transplanting the watermelon seedling, I packed a few large handfuls of soil around it.

Day one (April 7)

We had a few days of rain, so I didn’t have to do anything. Here they are two weeks later.

Two weeks later (April 20)

Almost one month after planting. All the watermelon seedlings survived and had several healthy leaves on them.

Three weeks later (May 1st) getting bigger…

The Florida summer rains were heavy this month and I was getting a little nervous that I should have raised them up higher. The plants looked great, but when they started fruiting, I knew we may have a problem with the watermelons taking in too much water and exploding.

Baby watermelons began to appear 6 weeks after planting the watermelon seedlings. (May 21).

We were starting to see little watermelons growing along the cloth, but at this point, the grass was so tall that they were hard to find.

After 8 weeks, the watermelons are almost ready! (June 1)

Ants had built a humongous ant mound under the cloth around the watermelon on the first plant. If this was in my front yard, I would have flooded them out with the hose, but because I have no access to water in the field, I just decided to let them have it. Within a week, they had eaten the whole watermelon.

The tag on the watermelon plants just said “watermelon”. I was thinking they were going to be huge, so when I noticed 2 of the watermelons starting to rot, I realized this is pretty much as big as they get (a little smaller than a bowling ball), and we began to harvest them on time.

Harvested after 10 weeks (June 14)

Kinda bummed I didn’t get any pictures of us actually cutting them open, but we ended up eating 9 watermelons. We would have ended up with many more, but I made a few mistakes.

Looking back

I didn’t do my research prior to planting these – but I should have calculated the day of harvest when I planted these. I expected these watermelons to grow into large watermelons, so a few busted and rotted before I realized they are just a bit smaller than bowling balls.

I thought I would have regretted not improving the soil first, but I didn’t have any issues!

Finally, this wasn’t an issue, but something worth noting. If you let the watermelon vine spread across the yard, the grass will grow up over it and you won’t be able to mow or weed eat, in fear of hitting the vine. The tall grass worked as a buffer to keep the watermelons from sitting directly on the soil, where bugs can easily chew on them.

chickens eating a store-bought watermelon (since I didn’t get a pic of ours)