Watermelon - Sugar Baby Watermelon

It’s hard to believe that watermelons are as nutritious as they are delicious: lycopene, antioxidants, vitamin C and magnesium­ in every sweet and juicy bite. With a little extra attention, each plant can produce several 8-inch, 8-pound melons in 12 weeks. The secret is in the soil.

Choose a spot in full sun with well-drained soil. Add organic matter like well-rotted compost, and a granular fertilizer such as 4-2-2 if needed, and create mounds about 4 feet apart. Leave them unmulched to warm in the sun. Then, four weeks after your average last frost date, or when soil warms to 85°F, sow 4 seeds 3/4 inch deep and 6 inches apart in each mound. Keep soil moist until plants emerge in 5 to 10 days.

Shortly after germination, the roots will benefit from cooler soil. To this end, when they have one true leaf, thin to 2 plants per hill, apply a layer of mulch, and water deeply every few days.

Once you see inch-wide fruit, feed every few weeks with a light, low-nitrogen fertilizer like dilute liquid kelp. Avoid disturbing the stems or roots. When fruit is 5 inches wide, reduce watering frequency to improve flavor. Harvest in about 90 days, when the underside has turned yellow and the fruit sounds hollow when tapped.

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