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This is a volunteer watermelon plant that just popped up in my back parking lot at my business location. I have no idea where the seed came from. The parking lot is topped w/ limestone rocks an 1 1/2 inch in dia. Underneath the rocks is caleche fill dirt. My point is the soil is terrible. The only water the plant has received is from scarce rain water... we are still in a droughtl. I occasionally empty my melted ice chest water on top of the plant. This plant is thriving. The plant leaves are bright green, w/ no signs of insect damage at all...there are no soil amendments, no fertilizer, no compost tea...no cucumber beetles...no aphids...no spider mites...no leaf worms...no bugs whats so ever. A perfectly healthy plant in the middle of a parking lot. Just blows my mind...see pics below...
Watermelons need loose soil and a little water and they are pretty carefree. I have had some dandy volunteers in fence rows. My best melons this year was volunteers beside my shed where I had cut out a jungle of Cherry Laurels.
What a testament to perseverance those melons are. They survived a beginning that was dubious, existed on whatever water and nutrients they could find in the worst of soils, and survived the harshness of enormous heat that the rock pavement probably drew. Determined to live, eventually overcame the odds and began producing wonderful fruit. What a lesson for those who find it hard to keep going. It took only what water naturally occurred and a little love from a friend with an ice chest. We serve an amazing Creator. Thank you, hornstrider, for taking notice of those melons and sharing that with us. Do you mind if I use your picture, if I share the story on my facebook, website, or something?
Solace...wow what a nice reply...thank you very much. You can use those pictures for anything you want...Someone ran over one of the melons before it was ripe, and I saved the seeds. One of the melons should be ready to pick next week. If someone does not steal them I will give a taste report!!...Thank you once again Solace...
I picked one of the volunteer watermelons, and I must it was the absolute best watermelon I have ever tasted. I wish I could say I grew it, but I am afraid I must be honest, and say it grew itself without any assistance from my efforts. Like I said I am saving the seeds, and I will try to grow next summer...I picked the one melon last night just before I left work...came home and sliced it. Yummmmmmmmmyyyyy...
I had wonderful luck with my first crop of watermelons last year, but had a lot of trouble identifying when to pick them. I let the first ones get too ripe, because i was waiting for the vine to shrivel. I cannot hear anymore so cannot do the Thump test. Any other way to tell when the water melons get ripe?. I did not have any problems telling when the cantaloupe were ready by the vines.
I plan to grow a bigger patch this year but had several medium size melons per plant last year.
I miss having watermelons - I hope I can get mine to do something instead of just setting there in the gh - maybe they need more light and heat. We'll see. Can you determine ripeness, Ernie, by the spot on the bottom of the melon? I wonder if you could use one of those digital tuners people have for their guitars? Take a thump when they're green, and see what key it registers, and then take a thump when they've had time to ripen. Might work! And you can read those, instead of having to hear them like a tuning fork.
I did find the yellowness of the spot on the bottom related to ripeness, but it seems that has to be in contact with the ground to turn yellow. if it is growing on top of a vine or leaf, it does not seem to turn like it should.
I may just have to wash a few dishes in return for having my wife do the thumping. But the tuner may well be a good idea. I was surprised at how easy they were to grow, especially in the heavy soil in that part of the yard, so i am making the garden bigger just for cantaloupe and watermelons.
It certainly is not a game of skill. I did not expect much and really did not think it was warm enough here to ripen them, and I bought some plants and planted some seeds, and could not tell the difference. Easiest thing i ever grew beside bermuda grass.
Ray der Phan, Mark, an experienced gardener and neighbor, was surprised at how many melons were on each vine. I may be setting up for a big disappontment next year.
But i am going to grow more melons and fewer bush beans because they are so much eaiser to pick.
Now I have posted pix before of melons grown by my Nephew and he says the best way to judge ripeness is to keep a careful journal and carefully note the DTM and add extra days when it is cloudy or just overcast also when the stems starts to shrink it is about done ..OCD to the max he measures the stems with calipers and measures the melons with a tape grows many melons over 100lbs over 500lbs in the back of the pickup
I always thought, when buying watermelons, the stem end would be dry, and the stem shriveled, and that worked on the cantaloupe, but some of my watermelons did have the yellow spot and some did not, and none of the stems shrivled up. So, some of mine got too ripe. I will be sure this year the bottoms are in direct contact with the soil, that none get rolled over, and will check when the stem changes in size or color. I may even caliper a few of the stems, as suggested above.
All I can say is I am aware of what I do that's wrong or sometimes more like what I don't do. My best year was digging holes with a post hole hole digger ,filling that with compost, and watering with a root feeder and miracle grow as the root on the melons grew.
I got lots of Cantelopes and three or four watermelons from 10 to 25 pds , lots of work for me. though dragging old heavy hoses and setting that up, I'm lazy!!!
Different places are just that i guess, it takes lots of effort here ,other places I have lived all it had taken was occasional watering , and I am really not that big on the idea of "gassing with commercial fertilizers" the vegetables that I am eating.
My favorite would be like Wild Berry picking !! lol
That is the way Life works, too. We learn from our mistakes.
We have to water every drop here. We have not had an inch of rain since last March or so..
I use drip irrigation for everything, but this year i am going to coil a loop of drip tube around every melon hill, with about 3 emitters in the coil at each plant. Those vines produced six or eigh melons per vine last year, but i think they would have done even better with water applied over a larger area.
I had an excellent watermelon and cantaloupe year on some new ground. Diseases are the bane of melons especially after a couple of years in the same area.
I watch the watermelons individually...kind of knowing and watching them grow. As soon as they quit growing, they are getting close to ripe. I check regularly the tendril nearest the stem. When the tendril starts turning from green to yellowish, it is brown then after about 4 days. Now we are getting real close on most varieties. Some yellow and gold varieties and a few old timers are now ripe. However, most red varieties and especially seedless varieties are improved by another week on the vine. Before picking, check the bottom to see if it is creamy or goldish...this won't happen so reliably with small iceboxers. Don't let the stem die or get brown...that only happens several days after picking.
I had the most scrumptious cantaloupes from Willhite's Sugar queen, Burpee's Early Crenshaw [one 22 pounds], and Godess.
Great watermelons were sangria, Raspa [one 38 pounds..that is big for Raspa], and Cooperstown seedless. My two Gold Strike and Orangeglo both made well over 100 pounds of melons apiece...but these golds need picked earlier than most reds.
I immediately copied your post on when melons ripen, and i appreciate it as that is advice that will be easy to follow.
I did notice last year when the melons stopped growing in size, but kept waiting for the dark, dull green color to brighten up, and the stems to start to dry. I did not know to check the tendrils.
I just bought some Hale's cantaloupe started plants, and they were good heavy producers, with two colors of ripe flesh inside. a nice pale green, and the normal orange, but both colors tasted the same. I savee some seed from those to see if the bicolor happens again. I hope to find water melon plants or seeds no bigger than volley balls, as there would be too much waste to cut big ones.