Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus)

Part of the Cucurbitaceae family that includes cucumbers and gourds, the sweet and hydrating flesh of watermelon is 92% water and contains anti-inflammatory properties. It is an ancient powerhouse of nutrients with evidence of cultivation of the viny plant dating all the way back to ancient Egypt.

Seeds

Peña says that depending on your microclimate and watering methods, San Diego’s Mediterranean growing conditions can be ideal for watermelon. That said,  watermelon is more suitable for inland growth, as coastal regions face the challenge of excess moisture and May-gray and June-gloom, which make the leaves of the plant susceptible to early powdery mildew.

“If you’re growing melons, buy seeds that are regionally adapted or have some resistance to powdery mildew,” she suggests.

The San Diego Seed Company offers seeds for two regionally adapted watermelon varieties: the Sugar Baby (small and sweet with bright red flesh) and the Crimson Classic (huge, sweet, dense, and super juicy).

Credit:Bill Oxford

Water

Watermelons like consistent water, but Peña’s biggest tip is  to avoid overhead watering.

Instead, watering close to the root zone of the plant to prevent excess moisture on the leaves, which can lead to powdery mildew and prematurely end the life of the plant before it provides any fruit.

Credit:Bill Oxford
San Diego Seed Company
Credit:Bill Oxford
San Diego Seed Company

The Setup

She recommends:

1. A drip irrigation system

2. Lots of compost

3. Really good soil

4. Straw mulch (to conserve moisture)

5. Regionally adapted seeds

Follow your seed packet recommendations for dates to harvest.  Shop regionally adapted seeds: sandiegoseedcompany.com

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