Few fruits scream “summer” quite as much as watermelon. There are many watermelon varieties including those in surprising hues and different sizes. Out of all the types of watermelon to grow, make sure to select one that will produce and ripen in your zone. Northern gardeners will want short season crops while warm region growers can select from a wider catalogue.
In order to get juicy, sweet watermelon, you need to select the right option and time your planting to suit your zone. These fruits need anywhere from 90 to 130 days from seed to harvest, making them a tough plant to grow in cooler climes.
Short Season Watermelon Growing
Big melons need about 4 months of warm, frost free weather. In cooler climates, the seeds will need to be started indoors and planted out after any danger of frost has passed, usually 6 weeks prior. Harden off seedlings and prepare the bed by mixing in a generous amount of compost. The smaller varieties are the best choice, but there are some large fruits suitable for shorter seasons. Here are a few short season watermelon varieties for northern gardeners:
- Sugar Baby- A smaller variety, with dark, almost black rind, and reddish orange flesh
- Yellow Doll- A fun choice with small fruit, thin rind and surprising yellow flesh
- Cole’s Early- Developed as an early hybrid, large striped fruit, sweet, pinkish red flesh
Big Watermelon Fruits
If you are looking for fruits that can get to giant proportions, there are several to try. Keep in mind they need to be started as early as possible, will need plenty of water and rich, well- draining soil. During watermelon growing periods, keep the area weed free. Use soaker hoses or drip systems to prevent fungal diseases. Fertilize once the plant starts developing buds. In order to promote monster fruit, cull all but the largest so the plant directs all its energy to producing heavy, large melons.
- Carolina Cross- Can get an impressive 250 pounds
- American Champion- A variety from the late 1800s that will produce fruit at a more modest 100 pounds
- Yellow Belly Black Diamond- A yellow fleshed type, fruits come in at around 60-70 pounds
- Blue Rind- As the name would indicate, the rind is bluish green. Comes in at 160 pounds
Playing with Color
Red fleshed fruits are the kind we all remember from our summer picnics but watermelon breeding has undergone a surge, developing melons for every need and taste. There are now seedless hybrids, types with different colored rinds, and even a rainbow of flesh tones. You can find orange, yellow and even pink fleshed types of watermelon to grow. Each has classic watermelon flavor but may vary in intensity and sweetness. Plant several of these choices and you can make a beautiful fruit salad filled with color.
- OrangeGlo- By all accounts, the most flavorful of the orange varieties. Also resistant to wilt disease and insects
- Harvest Moon- A pink variety of medium sized with crisp, sweet flesh• Amarillo- Deeply yellow with striped rind