Growing Watermelons in Tasmania
Watermelons grow on vines like pumpkins. They require a lot of space or can be grown vertically in small gardens. The do best in hot dry summers, so some Tasmanian gardeners cover their soil in black plastic to help keep it warm enough for the melons.
Don’t over water towards the end or they won’t be as sweet.
Watermelons like a rich, well-draining soil. Work in plenty of compost and well-rotted manure before planting.
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.
Add some bonemeal to each hole before planting your seedlings. This will help your watermelon vines to develop the strong root systems they need to produce a bountiful harvest.
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.
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.
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 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.
Once the bottom of the watermelons start to turn yellow and sound hollow when tapped, they’re ready to harvest. 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,
Milk spray or baking soda solution work well and can be sprayed on affected plants.
What to do about Powdery Mildew?