The watermelon -- what else is there to say? The perfect summer dessert requiring no effort on your part, just a good sharp knife and voila! There are over 50 different varieties of watermelon, most of which you have probably never partaken of or seen. With the resurgence of heirloom seed gardens, there are likely several watermelon plant varieties you would love to plant in the home garden.
Types of Watermelon
All varieties of watermelon share a distinct, mouth-watering, thirst-quenching, sugary flesh encased by a solid rind. Some watermelon types have higher sugar content and are sweeter; and some varieties have different colored rind and flesh. Most of us are familiar with the oblong, dark green watermelon with vibrant, ruby red pulp, but melons may also be light pink, yellow, and even orange. Size can vary among watermelons from small 5 pounders (2 kg.) to a monstrous 200 pounds (91 kg.). There are four basic types of watermelon: seedless, picnic, icebox, and yellow/orange fleshed.
Seedless watermelons were created in the 1990's for those of you who don't think spitting melon seeds is fun. Successive breeding has at last created a melon that is just as sweet as seeded varietals, however, it has not greatly improved low seed germination. Growing seedless types is a bit more complex than simply planting a seed and letting it sprout. The seed must be kept at a constant 90 degrees F. (32 C.) until emergence. Seedless melons include:
Seedless watermelons have tiny underdeveloped seeds, despite the name, which are easily consumed. The melons usually weigh from 10 to 20 pounds (4.5-9 kg.) and mature in about 85 days.
Another watermelon type, the Picnic, tends to be larger, from 16 to 45 pounds (7-20 kg.) or more, perfect for a picnic gathering. These are the traditional oblong or round melons with a green rind and sweet, red flesh -- which mature at around 85 days or so. Some varieties here include:
Icebox Watermelon Types
Icebox watermelons are bred to feed one person or a small family and, as such, are much smaller than their counterparts at 5 to 15 pounds (2-7 kg.). Watermelon plant varieties in this genre include the Sugar Baby and the Tiger Baby. Sugar Babies are sweet pulped with dark green rinds and were first introduced in 1956, while Tiger Babies are golden once mature in about 75 days.
Lastly, we come to yellow/orange fleshed watermelon plant varieties, which are typically round and can be both seedless and seeded. Seeded varieties include:
Seedless varieties include Chiffon and Honeyheart. As you may have guessed, depending upon the variety, flesh is yellow to orange in color. These melons mature in about 75 days. As you can see, there are plenty of watermelon options out there to experiment with in the garden. Maybe you even want to try and grow a square watermelon next!
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.
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