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Growing Watermelons in The Northern Territory

Introducing Watermelons

These juicy fruits grow on vines like pumpkins. They require a lot of space or can be grown vertically in small gardens. Watermelons love the long, warm Top End dry season.

Classic Mistakes

Don’t over water towards the end of the season or they won’t be as sweet.

Sunlight

Grow in: Full Sun

Soil Preparation

Watermelons like a rich, well-draining soil. Work in plenty of compost and well-rotted manure before planting.

Sowing Seed

Sow seed: April-July
Sowing depth: Twice the height of the seed

Watermelons are best grown from seed. Plant 4 or 5 seeds per mound and then thin them out once they’re up, keeping only the strongest 2 plants. Space your mounds according to the instructions on the packaging.

Planting

Plant seedlings: April-July

Watermelons are best grown from seed.

Care

Pinch out the growing tips when the vines are about 2m long. This really helps if you’re short on space and encourages your plants to put more energy into the existing fruit. Once the fruit start to grow, it’s a good idea to put something (like a piece of cardboard or plastic) under the them. This helps prevent damage to the bottom of the fruit while it ripens.

Watering

Water deeply and regularly while the plants are setting fruit. Watermelon plants are prone to powdery mildew, so try not to wet the leaves while watering. Once the fruit have started growing, reduce the amount that you water considerably. Less water during this last stage will give you sweeter fruit.

Feeding

Don’t overfeed on nitrogen. Once your vines start to flower, feed them with a balanced organic fertilizer. Fish emulsion or compost tea are good options.

Mulching

Mulching helps to keep the soil moist and the weeds out. Apply a generous layer of organic mulch such as shredded leaves, straw or coconut husk.

Harvesting

Harvest: 12 to 17 Weeks After Planting

Once the bottom of the watermelons starts to turn yellow, and sound hollow when tapped, they’re ready to be harvested. Harvest in a similar way to pumpkins, cutting the fruit away from the vine with a sharp knife. Watermelons won’t ripen any further once they’ve been picked, so make sure they’re ripe before you harvest them.

What to do about Powdery Mildew?

Milk spray or baking soda solution work well and can be sprayed on affected plants.
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