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Top tips to growing watermelon

Watermelon plants creep, crawl and trail their long tendrils all over the ground, they need a decent patch of land to set down roots as well as a long, hot summer. We've put together some top tips to watermelon success below. 

  • Watermelon need hot, dry summers to flourish. Frost will kill a watermelon plant at any stage, so be sure not to plant seedlings into the garden until late spring or summer when the threat of frosts has passed. 
  • Watermelons will benefit from digging in Tui Organic Sheep Pellets and Tui Blood & Bone at the time of planting.
  • To reduce damage to fruit, plants can be encouraged to grow up frames. Either insert canes and wires or plant them near a sturdy fence. If your watermelons don't have support, place straw underneath each fruit to keep it off the ground. 
  • Watermelon need plenty of water and a humid environment in the early stages of growth. Never let water collect around the stems, as they will rot quickly.
  • Bees and other insects pollinate melons, but hand pollination might be required, especially if there are not many insects around. The male flowers generally occur in small groups, while the females are solitary. The females are also recognisable by a swelling behind the petals. Pollinate several female flowers at the same time, they will then all set fruit and develop at the same pace.
  • When the fruit are fist sized, feed weekly with a liquid fertiliser like Tui Seaweed & Fish, when they get close to being full size and mature, feed with a fertiliser high in potassium like Tui NovaTec Premium.
  • In the weeks before harvesting fruit will expand rapidly if given enough water, however be careful not to give them too much water as this can cause them to split.
  • In late summer, remove young fruit that are unlikely to reach maturity. All the plants energy will then go into growing the remining fruit. 

Common issues:

  • Slugs and snails are a real threat to growing melons. Regularly apply Tui Quash to keep them away. 
  • Powdery mildew can be a common problem with watermelons, especially in humid conditions. Planting too close together can assist the spread of powdery mildew as airflow is reduced. Try thinning and pruning plants to create airflow and water plants at soil level to avoid the fungus being spread. Natural fungicide spray options are available from garden centres.
When should I plant
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
  • Harvest in 75-80 days

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