Watermelon Growing


If you spent the 10 years it would take to read this whole thread, somewhere in it you’d see a post from me saying that even though I’ve grown hundreds of mellons every year for about 38 years, I still can’t always tell when a melon is ripe. And, while I’m usually pretty good at it, it is just something I’ve learned to recognize based on several factors including the shine/sheen-or absence of-on a melon. But most importantly, you would see in that same post that I think almost all the things people tell you to use- like all those you just listed- are only slightly better than a guess once a melon is full sized. I’ve seen over ripe melons with green tendrils and under ripe melons with brown brittle tendrils. Same for most of the other so called “tales”. They offer some good guideance, but certainly are not foolproof. My point is, don’t feel bad- picking a melon at the right time can be difficult. Also, some melons are a lot more forgiving, meaning they can stay at peek ripeness for several days up to almost 2 weeks (10 days) whereas others go from underripe to over ripe in less than a week. As much as I love Orangeglo, it is one that goes from ripe to over ripe pretty quickly.

Anyway, keep us posted and maybe we can help you be more successful this year.


This is the first time in many, many years that I’m deliberately trying to grow watermelons. I say “deliberately” because in 2012 I had a watermelon vine to randomely come up at the base of one of my blueberry bushes and produce two watermelons, which was my only real success with watermelons. LOL! Anyway, this year I decided to try Orange Tendercrisp and some red watermelon, the name of which I’ve forgotten. Anyway, we shall see. Wish me some luck, because I have historically I have found them frustrating. As I said, my only real success was an accident. God bless.



Marcus- I just wanted to say good luck and I hope you do well. As you may have noticed, for all the fun I have with fruit trees, after 6 years I still feel like I’m below the learning curve and tend to struggle with some things more than I think I should at this point. So a little relief in hearing that someone as knowledgeable with fruit trees as you are has struggled with watermelons- something I’ve become pretty good at after 35 years. ha. But before I go patting myself on the back too much, I have to believe it has as much to do with soil, climate, and other things I cannot take credit for. So honestly, for all the pride I take in my watermelon successes, the truth of the matter is I just plant seeds, keep the weeds out, fertilize a few times with some triple 15, and that’s it. I almost never spray for anything nor do I need to. My point is just to say I don’t think it’s rocket science- either your location is well suited or it isn’t. If it is, I think you’ll do well and if it isn’t you won’t. All that being said, I hope you have a great experience this year. Pound for pound of consumable fruit, I think watermelons have a much higher yield than any other fruit when measured by input hours! Good luck!


Kevin, if I recall correctly your watermelons took serious hits from…was it foxes or raccoons(?) last summer. Have you figured how to harvest some for yourself this year?


I’m pretty new to this still, but I’ve found a decent solution to my squirrel, raccoon, and rabbit problem! I grew cream of Saskatchewan and blacktail on a trellis last year, and as the melons grew, I made slings to support their weight with some of my dads old unwanted t-shirts. I lost all the melons to the furry fiends except one! The only one that was saved was one that was fully wrapped in shirt material instead of just a sling supporting it. This only happened cause I already put the scissors away and didn’t feel like cutting the piece any further! I guess they didn’t like the texture of shirt and they left that one be while decimating the rest! Didn’t get any blacktail due to the pests but cream of Saskatchewan (2nd season with this variety) was delicious! For me, this melon was far more flavorful than any market variety I’ve tried, but for the 2018 season I’ll be growing several more varieties, so we will see how it holds up! I learned my first year with it that you’ve got to wait around 5-10 days after the tendril dries before it gets really sweet! My cousin doesn’t usually like watermelon but she loves this one! I could have kept it on the vine to get a bit sweeter but was still good! Of course the squirrels left me only the smallest melon on the plant!


That just goes to show how wildly tastes differ and also highlights the fact that taste ratings may be very subjective. I don’t suppose you happened to have measured the brix by chance did you? I have grown 3-4 different white watermelons, and while Cream of Sat. is my favorite of them all, I just don’t care for it at all. Mine just weren’t very sweet at all, and even had a very slight and mild cucumber-like taste that I wasn’t a fan of. I’ve even tried them more than one year, so I don’t think it was a fluke. Of course, we have different growing conditions so there could be a substantial difference in sugar content I suppose, but it also may just be different taste preferences. Would you say your Cream of S. was fairly comparable to a typical store bought watermelon IN TERMS OF SWEETNESS, or was it a lot less sweet but you like it for its other taste profiles? Just trying to get a feel for the level of sweetness of your melon vs as average watermelon. thanks


Oh gosh I’m not even sure how to go about measuring the brix! As far as my growing conditions, I’m in zone 6b, altitude is 6800 feet! The local soil is all rocky clay, so I grow in raised beds or containers. I mixed in some good aged steer manure and mushroom compost in the basic potting mix with some of the local soil. The vines never exceeded 10 feet but were quite productive, though the squirrel benefitted more than I did on that! It got pretty good sunlight, there’s a pine shadow that would hang over it about an hour in the morning, then it was in the sun from around 8:00 am to 6:30 pm. The monsoon times things nicely, I didn’t have to worry about watering for about 2 months, and by the time it stopped, I was cutting the water it received to enhance flavor. I wouldn’t say mine were cucumbery, more like a classic but slightly milder watermelon taste with a tropical perfume to it. More or less as sweet as the ones from the grocery, but has definitely been surpassed in sugars by ones I’ve purchased before. I really enjoyed these, there was the slightest bit of acidity to balance the sweet but at a pleasant level, I definitely prefer sweet over tarter fruits! This year I’ll be growing cream of Saskatchewan, Kaho, and what is hopefully legitimate Densuke! I’ll have to check back in with you on how it compares to these!


Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Your growing conditions ARE quite different than mine (the soil you used, your elevation, rainfall, fertilize, and your ability to reduce water near harvest time (a smart move, btw)). I’m not sure which of those or combination of those made a difference, but if you say that your Cream of Sat melon was even close to other watermelons, then something was most definitely different! And it isn’t purely my own tastes- I had several people try mine and they always said the same thing “it’s very different, but it isn’t sweet enough”. Anyway, good luck with your next ones. I did think Cream of S. was my favorite white…others were even LESS sweet, bordering on being more of a vegetable than fruit.

I hope you are also growing some more traditional melons- some of my favorites like Orangeglo, Crimson Sweet, jubilee, etc. However, those are all pretty big melons and couldn’t be trellised. On the small ones I like Blacktail Mountain better than Sugar Baby, but they are both pretty heavy on seeds. Anyway, thanks for sharing…enjoy your melon adventures.

Oh…you really should get a refractometer to measure the brix/sweetness. there is a thread here somewhere on the best ones for the money-there are some pretty good ones for not a lot of money.


Thanks so much! I’m hoping to branch out to some more of these traditional ones you mentioned, just concerned about the larger ones ripening in time for my area! I was going to just stick with the 3 I picked before, but the melon bug has got me pretty good, and now I’m going to have to make another order from baker creek anyways since they released the black goji berry! Just looked up the Crimson Sweet and I’ve gotta have it, looks like it would have that good crisp texture! Do you have any recommendations for low seed varieties? My brother is picky and bothered by the seeds, and it’d be nice not to have to pick too many out when sharing with my goofy spoiled dogs!


If I can get Orangeglo to ripen up in zone 2 I think you could as well. Some of mine were overripe because I was learning how to tell when a watermelon was ripe and I was afraid to pick too early. This year I am trying Crimson Sweet.


That gives me a lot more confidence to try them, thank you!


I am getting impatient to plant my watermelons, this time last year the highs were in the 80s, low in the 50’s, watermelons were planted. This year lows in the 40’s and the highs in the mid 60’s to very low 70’s forecast. I am looking at May 2nd or later before I can plant. Also have corn I want to put in the ground.


Perhaps you can plant them inside in pots. I’ve never had a problem transplanting them out.


How big do you let your watermelons get inside before transplanting?


I have had them in large 1 gal pots and blooming when I set them out. My theory was that if they were going to be set back by a week or two I wanted them far enough along so it wouldn’t matter. But my growing season is much shorter than most so you may not need them that large.


I start them in 3-4" pots. They have 1-3 true leaves usually when they go out. I up planted some yesterday to larger pots because it is too cold for them to go out for at least 3 weeks. And there may be yet another cold spell. Our high and low temps have been running between 10-15 deg below avg for this time of year and if that happens, I just up pot. Hopefully this cold will relent.


Which watermelon has the most sought after taste? I realize it’s a subjective issue, but I happen to have some room left. They’re just finishing up selling seedlings at the home centers now, and there’s a large array of strange looking watermelons. Different shapes, and different colored flesh (do yellow and orange taste any different than the red ones?).
By the way, one of my grafted watermelons was trying to revert. The vine looked like a super strong squash. Easy to tell the difference!


As you said, its subjective, and certainly not everyone agrees, but the one that seems to most often get the vote for best tasting watermelon and is a favorite of some of us who have grown many different melons is OrangeGlo. It is an orange meat melon that is super sweet has a unique fruity taste that always make me rate it #1, as do a lot of others here (but not all!)


Ok cheers. I’ll try to track it or another orange WM down. I just wanted to check If there’s a flavor difference, or the colors etc. are just a marketing gimmick.


Overall I haven’t found any color to be better or worse on average and if blind folded most people probably couldn’t pick out a melon as being a particular color. The one exception is white or cream colored melons. I strongly dislike every singe one of them that I have ever grown. That being said, I remember someone in this very thread making a pretty long post about how much they loved a white one (I think it was Cream of Satch) which just blew my mind…but as you said, tastes are subjective. I urge you to find some actual Orangeglo though and not just any yellow/orange meat melon. As I said, just being orange or yellow doesn’t mean it will be good.

Maybe you grow one of those $200 each watermelons I often see on videos of Japanese markets! ha Good luck.