If you dream of devouring home-grown watermelon this summer, now is the time to take action in most areas. Here’s how.
- Sow seed directly in the soil. If it’s still a bit chilly where you are, start seed in pots in a warm, sunny spot, and plant them out next month when the soil has warmed up. If you’re in an arid or subtropical area, plant established seedlings this month. This will help return a harvest before summer conditions get too hot (arid) or wet (subtropical). In the tropics, grow watermelon in the dry season, as it doesn’t cope with soggy, humid summer conditions.
- Position in a spot with plenty of sun and space for the vigorous vine to ramble.
- Train the vine upwards if you’re short on space. Use a strong, secure support that will take the weight of the fruit.
- Add plenty of compost and some organic fertiliser when preparing the ground.
- Loosen the subsoil if the ground is hard, to make it easier for the deep roots to penetrate.
- Shape the soil into generous planting mounds 1m wide by 30cm deep. This provides good drainage and increases root depth. Level the top of the mounds and create a ‘dish’ to catch water. Plant three seeds per mound, 2.5cm deep.
- Water in and allow the soil to dry between watering.
- Choose the strongest seedling and remove the rest.
Look for more food crops to get started in your garden now, including potted fruiting fig trees, in the October issue of ABC Gardening Australia magazine, out now.