Spring is here and it's time to plant. One summer favorite that should be going in the soil in May and June is that beloved summertime favorite, watermelon. We called Brijette Peña, owner and regional heirloom seed farmer at the San Diego Seed Company for watermelon growing tips.
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.
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).
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.
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