After a hesitant start to summer, I think it's finally here. That's good news for watermelon lovers. Watermelons, like all melons, love the heat. So far it's been a slow start to summer, but luckily these cucurbits grow fast under the right conditions.
If you're thinking it's too late to grow watermelons, you're wrong. Mid-June is the perfect time to plant them, now that the soil and air is warm. For quick success, look for short season varieties that will mature fast such as Sugar Baby. These round, icebox-type varieties weighs only six to 10 pounds, making them more manageable than the larger, oblong giants in grocery stores.
Yellow Doll is a nice, yellow fleshed small watermelon and New Orchid has orange colored flesh. If you're looking for seedless varieties try Sorbet. Seedless varieties are more finicky about germination and early growth, so keep the bed evenly moist and protected from insects with a floating row cover.
Plant watermelons now on well-drained, raised beds amended with compost. To heat up the soil and accelerate growth, lay down black plastic mulch on the bed and plant into holes poked in the plastic. Plant in rows or hills, looking to eventually space the seedlings so they're a few feet apart.
Side dress every three weeks with a granular organic fertilizer and keep well-watered. Watch out for cucumber beetles. These yellow and black striped or dotted small beetles love to attack young seedlings and flowers. Dust with diatomaceous earth if you see them. If all goes well, by August you'll be eating fresh, juicy watermelons from your garden.
Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about community gardens. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.