Space the cucamelon seeds 30 cm apart. Space the rows at a distance of 30 cm. Plant at a depth of 0.5 to 1 cm. Plant the fruit seeds in a sunny spot. After sowing, water the seeds adequately. The fruit seeds come in a bag containing approximately 15 seeds. This is enough to sow 3 square metres.
|Latin name:||Melothria scabra|
|Guarantee:||1 year growth and flowering guarantee|
|Leafs all year:||No|
|Harvesting:||August - November|
Water melon seeds require no prior treatment. You could however steep the large seeds in lukewarm water for 12 hours – this encourages germination. Water melon plants have male and female flowers. To encourage pollination it is advisable to plant and grow 2 or 3 at the same time. (Bumble) Bees will do the rest.
Water melon is just like the cucumber in that it is a real heat lover. Sow indoors or in a greenhouse from mid-April. You can also use a mini greenhouse, using some fairly large turf pots filled with good potting compost, or just in a simple potting tray. A combination of seedlings, plugs and a mini greenhouse makes it very easy. Best is, if you can somehow heat your mini greenhouse from below. The seeds will germinate, no problem, if you can guarantee a temperature of at least 20 °C (day and night). Do not allow the seedlings to dry out! Plant one seed per pot - poke it into the compost to a max. 0.5 cm deep with the end of a pencil and cover with potting compost. Stand your mini greenhouse in a good spot on the windowsill.
The seeds will germinate within the week, somewhat dependant on the temperature. Alter the humidity in the greenhouse after several days by sliding open the grates. Once the seedlings reach a height of 10 cm they must become acclimatised. To this end, remove the mini greenhouse lid for one hour on day one, then 2 hours on day 2 etc. After five days, they will be used to normal humidity and they can be potted up to larger pots. This will be necessary sooner than you think as the water melon is a fast grower! Allow the young plants to enjoy 20 °C for as long as possible to encourage good growth.
If you do not have a mini greenhouse, a simple seed tray covered with plastic held up with bamboo sticks will suffice. Just prick holes in the plastic to vary the humidity and allow acclimatisation.
When there is no longer the risk of frost and night temps are above 15° C, preferably 18° C, the water melon plants can go outdoors, or into the greenhouse. Water melon plants prefer moisture retaining clay or sandy soil. Choose the warmest corner in your garden. You could also grow them in a large pot on the patio. Before you plant them outside they must be hardened off by allowing them to acclimatise to outdoor temperatures. Do this by leaving them outdoors for an hour longer every day (out of the sun). After a week, pot them up into larger pots. Considering that the plants are fairly big it is best to plant 1 plant per pot. Then place the pots in a warm and sheltered position in full sun.
Water melons have a creeping habit. If any fruits end up growing directly on the ground they are liable to rot so have some straw or black plastic handy to lie under the plants. Black plastic is also handy for warming up the soil, allowing the plant to grow quicker. A plank also helps to keep the fruit from touching soil. It is preferable to lead the shoots upwards as with gherkins if the variety is small enough (up to 1.5 kg) and allows for this. Use large holed chicken wire on a sturdy frame for this. Support the fruits in nets attached to the chicken wire.
Melons and Water melons are fast growing plants that require fertilising on a regular basis. For good results we recommend a fertiliser like Bakker's fertiliser for flowering plants, or Bakker's Tomato Fertiliser. They really need it too! Give extra water in periods of drought. Keep the bed weed free – pull them out instead of using a hoe, to prevent root damage to your water melons. This will help them grow well
Harvesting is done simply by cutting the fruit loose from the plant with a sharp knife.
A melon is ripe when the fruit smells strongly of honeydew and the part of the melon around the stem can be slightly pressed.
The ripeness of watermelon is more difficult to determine. A tap on the melon can tell you if it 'sounds' just right. A ripe melon gives a more hollow sound than an unripe one. Use the growing period as a guide: 2 month old fruits are definitely ready to harvest.
Dried water melon seeds are considered a delicacy in Asia.
Both Honeydew and Water melons will easily last for 2 weeks in the 'fridge or in a cellar. Do wrap in clingfilm as their strong odour will otherwise permeate your refrigerator.
Water melon is good for you and deliciously sweet. As well as sugars, they are full of Vitamins A, B and C and also contain calcium and magnesium as well as the antioxidant Lycopeen.