How to plant watermelon?
Sun and heat combine with a lighter and refreshing diet. Fruits are a great option and some of them even help with hydration . This is the case with watermelon. With about 90% of its weight in water, watermelon is sweet and perfect for summer days – especially if served chilled. In addition, it has vitamins A and C, potassium, manganese and magnesium.
To improve, you can still plant watermelon at home, but it is necessary to pay attention to Brazilian conditions. It is possible to cultivate watermelon in all regions, practically all year round, just taking care in places with colder periods in winter, which ends up reducing the productive capacity of the plants. Watermelon is a hot climate crop and/or cultivated in the summer, with the main planting regions being the Northeast and South of the country, followed by the Midwest, North and Southeast.
Watermelon can be planted through direct sowing or by producing seedlings that are transplanted to a permanent location. As with any crop, it is important to use quality seeds, in addition to planting at the most appropriate time.
According to Amanda Inoue, seed research and production coordinator at ISLA Sementes , it is extremely important to prepare the soil well for planting, correct fertilization, irrigation, care for possible “pests”. Harvest takes place between 75 to 100 days after planting.
But it is worth mentioning that the watermelon cycle will vary according to the genetic characteristic of the seed used and, in some cases, the place where it is cultivated, due to climatic conditions.
Types of watermelon and differences
There are several types of watermelon and the differences are mainly in shapes and sizes, with more rounded or elongated fruits. To give you an idea, ISLA Sementes has an average of 10 different watermelon seeds, which can be found in the conventional and organic seed lines and also in the PET line, special so that it can also be consumed by pets.
The main differences between organic seeds and conventional seeds are the way they are produced. In organic seed, the production process takes place in an organic cultivation system , respecting all guidelines for this type of management, without the use of chemical compounds, whether pesticides or fertilizers.
How to plant watermelon?
First of all it is necessary to choose or prepare the soil. In the case of watermelon, the most suitable are sandy soils, with good drainage and rich in organic matter. If you choose to plant from seeds directly in the final place, make small holes about 3 cm deep and place about 4 seeds in each one. The distance between the holes, and future seedlings, should be at least 2 meters.
In up to two weeks the seeds will germinate and, then, the weakest seedlings must be eliminated, leaving only the one that developed better.
If you choose to plant seedlings and then proceed with the transplant, you can follow the same step by step and, when the strongest seedling has reached 15 cm, it can be transplanted to its final place.
As already mentioned, watermelon does best in warm climates. So the ideal thing is that it is planted in places with a temperature above 20ºC or in greenhouses. Direct sunlight is also important for plant development.
During plant growth, the ideal is to keep the soil moist, but never soaked. When the fruits start to grow, the tip is to reduce the watering, since watermelons grown in drier environments tend to be sweeter.
The formation of watermelons depends on the pollination of flowers. For this, the ideal is to have pollinating insects nearby. If you don’t have bees, butterflies and other pollinators in the place where the watermelons are planted, you can do manual pollination.
Both male and female flowers appear on the same plant, with the male flowers appearing first. When the first (male) flowers open, wait for the female ones to bloom. Pick the male flowers and rub them on the female ones. It is also possible to rub just the petals, as long as they have pollen. A tip is to rub more than one male flower on the same female flower, in case they have little pollen.
While the watermelon is growing, it is important to create a support so that it is not in direct contact with the soil, which could favor the appearance of some disease or “pests”. It can be wood, straw or other dry material.
Another important care is to rotate the watermelon so that it gets the same amount of sun on all sides and doesn’t get a yellowish part or an uneven appearance. To do this, carefully turn the fruit every 3 days.
To find out if the watermelon is ripe, tap it with your fingertips or lightly tap the fruit and listen to the sound: if it sounds hollow, it’s safe to pick.
How to use watermelon
Watermelon can be consumed in several ways, the main and most common being, in natura, in juices, composing fruit salad or with leafy vegetables. In addition to the pulp, its rind can be used to prepare sweets and its roasted seeds become a different appetizer option.