Hot Times Call for Fresh Watermelons
We have reached the hottest time of the year and it’s always important to remember to hydrate. Watermelon, one the tastiest way to keep cool in the summer, consists of 92% water and is high in vitamin C and vitamin A. Watermelon contains only 46 calories per cup which makes it one of the lowest in calories count as far as fruits go. Interestingly, its high-water content is one of the reasons why this fruit helps you feel full. For those who love watermelon, there are four varieties to choose from including seedless, picnic, icebox, and yellow/orange fleshed.
Seedless watermelons were developed in the 1990’s to cater to those who don’t enjoy spitting out the seeds after every bite. Despite the name, seedless watermelons actually contain tiny, white, immature seeds that are edible. Growing seedless watermelon requires more attention than growing traditional watermelon in that the seeds must be kept at 90F until they begin developing. Seedless watermelons can weigh from 10 to 20 pounds and takes 85 days to mature.
Picnic watermelons are the most familiar and largest of the four basic watermelon types. Weighing in an average of 15 to 50 pounds and maturing after 85 days, the picnic watermelon was named after being able to feed a large group.
Icebox watermelons are the smallest of the four watermelon types and named after being able to fit in the refrigerator. Its small size, ranging from 5 to 15 pounds and maturing after 75 days, is bred to feed one person or a small family.
Yellow/orange watermelons can be seeded or seedless. It was named after its flesh varying in color from yellow to orange. They can weigh anywhere between 10 to 30 pounds and matures after 75 days.
The staff here at QRI love watermelons so much we decided to start growing them ourselves! When we started our garden a little under 2 years ago we decided that we wanted to grow a variety of fruits, vegetables, and gourds to share amongst the team. We currently have both icebox and picnic watermelons growing in our garden.
We found that planting watermelons require lots of space, soil with organic matter, and a balanced fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. The vines can reach 20 feet in length, so it is advised to plant them 3 to 4 feet apart with 8 feet between rows. Push the seeds 1 inch into the soil and keep the soil free of weeds. Mulching soil under the vines help suppress weeds and slows moisture evaporation. Watering in the early morning is important for keeping vines healthy. Keep soil moist, but waterlogging will kill the plant. When the tendril closest to the melon stem turns brown and dries up, the melon is ripe. If the fruit falls off the vine easily, it’s a good indication that it is ready.
Even if you don’t have a green thumb, here are a few tips on how to pick the best watermelon at the grocery store. Choose a watermelon, big or small, that feels heavy for its size. Another way to tell if your melon is ripe is by thumping it. A ripe one will have a deep hollow sound. However, this method is not always accurate. The most accurate way to pick the best watermelon is to look for the yellow spot. Watermelons develop a splotch where they rest on the ground. When the splotch is creamy yellow, it’s ripe.
Whether you grow your watermelon or pick one up at the store, this hydrating fruit is sure to be a healthy snack for your and your family all summer long.