By MEREDITH KIRTON
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus)
Almost nothing says summer like a watermelon. Cold from the fridge on a hot day, or still warm from growing out in the sun and then split open to gorge on that sweet flesh, it is the stuff from which childhood memories are forged. They do, however, need some space to grow and time, as they take on average about 3 months to harvest.
The fast growing vines sprawl along the ground in any sunny position, but they do best if the area is also well drained and well irrigated until the fruits start to ripen and the vines are well fed. Each vine normally reaps only about 5 fruit, so normally a half dozen vines are grown. For best results, create a mound with added compost and blood and bone and into the top of this sow 3-4 seeds. After germination, choose the best two seedlings and remove the others. Repeat this over a few nearby mounds and your watermelon patch will start to grow. If you want to double the crop, plant corn in the same patch as they are great companions.
You can tell when a watermelon is ripe and ready for picking because the side nearest to the ground will yellow, and a tap on the skin makes a hollow sound like a drum. The spiral coil near the stem of the fruit will also start to brown. Cut them off from the main vine, and refrigerate.
Native originally to Africa, they spread all around the world with the slave trade and ended up in the USA. Although pink to red shades of melon are the most common, watermelons are actually available in white (Cream of Saskatchewan), yellow (Yellow Crimson and Mountain Yellow) and orange (Sweet Siberian and Orange Tendersweet) fleshed types. There are also yellow rind versions such as Golden Midget and yellow spotted skin type called Moon and Stars. Sugar Baby is a particular favourite with home gardeners as the vine is more compact and the fruits actually fit in the fridge!
Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS