The Wonderful Watermelon

Summer isn’t summer without watermelon. The juicy bright red flesh of this amazing fruit is a refreshing tasty treat in the heat and can be prepared in so many wonderful ways. Even the thick green rind makes a fun decoration on summertime tables. Growing watermelons is fairly easy and great fun.

Why Grow Watermelon?

Watermelon is good for you!
Recent research has revealed that watermelon’s nutritional benefits are even greater than we ever knew. Tomatoes get all the credit for being lycopene leaders, but watermelon is an equally great source for that cancer-fighting, heart health nutrient. It’s high levels of vitamins A and C help your body fight infection, boost immunity, help your eye health and protect from free radicals that increase effects of aging. The amount of Vitamin B6 found in watermelon works well with proteins in your body as it helps the body break down and use protein. B6 also is great for the immune system by producing antibodies needed to fight disease, as well as helping nerve function and red blood cell formation. Watermelon also contains potassium, so when you’ve finished a good workout and need replenishment, you have an alternative to a banana.

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Watermelon is delicious and can be served in so many ways!
There’s something special about taking summer’s first bite out of a big slice of watermelon and letting the juice drip down your chin, isn’t there? And that should definitely be on the list of ways to enjoy this summer treat. But did you know besides the traditional triangle cuts and diced chunks of fresh watermelon, it is one of the most versatile foods to serve? Watermelon can be grilled, frozen, blended, served as a side dish, dessert, a drink or a salad, served hot or cold… The National Watermelon Board has a whole slew of creative and delicious recipes to try.

Watermelon is a decorating dream come true!
Hostesses, event planners, artists and kids love the thick, sturdy rind of the watermelon because it makes great sculpting material. Cutting and carving the watermelon to use as a bowl or decoration is a part of what makes watermelons wonderous. The National Watermelon Board and many other websites show hundreds of designs to inspire – boat bowls, pirate ships, palm trees, animals, roses, you name it it can probably be created with a watermelon. You can use a simple kitchen knife or indulge yourself with a vegetable carving kit (because any job is made easier with the right tool, right?) ArtChef.com has a great selection of tools to choose from.

How to Grow (and Find) a Good Watermelon

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Essentials – Watermelons love the heat and take a solid 4 months to flourish. Now is not the time to plant them, of course, but if you want to plan for next year, here’s what you need to know.

Watermelons need hot days and warm nights. They are also aggressive growers and will need ample room to spread out. They require full sun, air circulation, warm and dry conditions, loose well-drained soil, and be kept weed free. In the beginning, it is important to water deeply. When you are preparing the soil, Garden Weasel can be your best friend. Our Weasel Garden Claw and Garden Claw Pro are excellent cultivators for the soil and can help you create that loose soil your watermelon need, without breaking your back. Once established, watermelon don’t need a lot of attention.

If you do not live in a climate that is conducive to growing watermelon, don’t fret. You can create the environment to grow them with methods designed to keep the soil warm and insulated, protecting with covers when temperatures drop and adapting other ways to meet the needs of watermelons.

Tending the Fruit – Watermelon is called watermelon because it is comprised of 95 percent water! As much as 95 percent of a watermelon’s weight is water. Regular deep watering is critical in the first month but once the fruit arrives, you actually need to reduce watering because too much water dilutes the melon’s sugars and makes the flavor weaker and less sweet.

Male flowers will grow first then female flowers. After midsummer, pluck any new flowers so that the plant can focus growing efforts on fruit that will mature before the end of the growing season. Do not remove leaves because they have a direct effect in processing the chemicals and sugar that affect the sweetness of the watermelon fruit. When the fruit gets larger, it is important to place mulch (straw is preferred) where the fruit rests to avoid contact with the soil.

Harvest – Common knowledge says to use the “thump” method: thump watermelon to determine if it is ripe; it should make a dull thump when it’s ready to cut. If the sound is hollow, ringing or musical it is not ripe. Insiders know other tricks, such as the “tendril” method (check the the tiny tendril opposite of where the watermelon stem is attached, if it is brown or dried out, that means the melon is ripe), or the “rind” option (shiny, glossy rind = unripe; drab rind = ripe).
Yellowing or whitening of the belly where it sits on the ground is normal.

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