Watermelon is a round fruit with a hard rind.
There are two types of watermelon seeds. These are open pollinated and hybrid melons. Seeds for open pollinated varieties are produced from self fertilization of flowers of one variety.
Hybrids are a result of cross pollination and they have better yields. Buy the seeds from a trusted and certified source.
Space – Water melon requires lots of space
Water- Water melon requires a lot of water and lots of nutrients. Have a stable source of water and soil rich in nutrients. You add nutrients to the soil by adding organic matter.
Enough sun- Water melon requires lots of sun. They do not cope well with extremely hot conditions though. Humid and soggy conditions are the best conditions for fungal diseases and these will wipe out the melon in no time. Temperatures of between 20 degrees-25 degrees are best to grow and ripen a watermelon.
Planting of watermelon.
Start the water melon seeds in the ground, right where they are supposed to grow. They do not like transplanting and so not necessary to put the seeds in a nursery bed. Put enough manure to the soil before planting and plough to mix well with the soil. 1 table spoon of DAP should be put in every hole and properly mixed with the soil to make sure that the fertilizer doesn’t burn the seed. DAP contains phosphorus and helps the crop with root development. Always fertilize the soils after every three to four weeks with CAN which helps to fix nitrogen in the soil. Watermelon fruit grow well in soils with alkaline pH. It is therefore wise to add lime to the soil to maintain an alkaline pH. This tough should be done at intervals of 3years. Watermelon germinates in 7 days and the first fruits are seen from day 30.
Plant the watermelon seed with a spacing of 2m between rows and 1m between the holes where the seeds are to be planted. If there is not enough rainfall, water regularly to keep the soil moist. It is best to have a watering schedule if using irrigation because the fruit becomes stressed when the pattern changes and this affects the fruit development and the spray program.
It is important to weed the land to remove weeds that compete for water and nutrients with the plant. It can be done the 2nd or 3rd week after germination using herbicides or steel (jembe).
Maturity- Watermelon matures between 80-100 days. In order to determine if the fruit is ready for harvest, turn the melon to see if it has a yellow patch on the part where it lies on the ground with. If it is difficult to pass though your finger nail into the melon, it is as well ready for harvest and you can even cut one and confirm if mature. They are ready for harvest when mature.
Control of pests and diseases.
The major diseases of watermelon are the leaf spot, dumping off, powdery mildew and blight. Beetles, mites, leaf miners and thrips. Dumping off is a fungal disease that causes seeds to rot before they germinate. Spider mites are serious pests of watermelons especially during hot, dry weather and they feed on the plants sap and can defoliate vines in a few weeks. Leaf miners cause injuries to the leaves resulting to destruction of the leaf tissues. Thrips are insects which invade the flowers and feed on plant juices are visible to the naked eye.
Always use recommended fungicides, insecticides and herbicides and these are available in the local agrovets. Read the label and follow instructions. This will not only protect your plant, but it will also protect your health and the environment. Apply the chemicals using the appropriate equipment at the recommended application rate. The labels should provide information on recommended use, ingredients, mode of action, and formulation of the product.