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Faster Growing Watermelons In The Garden

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Fast Growing WatermelonsThere is nothing as good as a vine ripened watermelon, but some years the weather is just not as cooperative as we need for a full growing season or we want to hurry up the harvest time.  Here is an idea we have tried and it has worked very well. We have more than enough melons for us and the neighbors and that is from just two plants of each kind of melon.

Getting ready!  Prepare your planting site by first loosening up the soil and adding compost if necessary to provide a rich growing medium for your plants.  We start with the 3 to 4 inch size melon plants from the local nursery (you could start your own plants indoors a month or two before planting time).  Bring your plants home and set them in their original containers close by where you plan to plant them, water the plants daily and let them sit for at least two days (no more than a week) so they can get used to being out of the nursery and stabilize to your yard before exposing the plant to the garden soil.

Time to plant!  Dig a hole in your freshly prepared soil just a little bigger and deeper than the plant container.  This allows for the roots to have enough room if they have started to wind around in their pot.  Carefully turn the plant upside down with one hand and gently pull the plant from the pot with your other hand.  Check the roots for a crowded root ball, if you see this gently free the tangle of roots so they are more straight down from the plant.  Place your plant in the hole with the container soil line or just a half inch more being the depth you want to plant your plants.  Make sure to get the dirt all around the roots so no air pockets are left in the ground.  Pack the soil around your plant so the plant stays upright on its own.

Now for the fun part!  You know those big black trash bags you have left over from leaf raking last fall, well get one for each melon plant you have and cut a hole in the middle of the bag about 3 or 4 inches in diameter, large enough so it can go over the plant and still have a hole an inch or two bigger than the stem of the plant.  Carefully lay your bag over the plant and make sure all of the plant is poking through the hole.  We installed a drip bubbler system in our garden to make watering easier and to cut down on some of the weeds.  We placed one of the bubblers under the plastic so the bubbler water would flow about 2 inches from the plant.  Spread about a teaspoon of  Osmocote plant food around the base of the plant bubbler.  You need to secure the black plastic bag so it will not blow away or get moved.  We used rocks to hold down the bags, you could also use landscape fabric pins.  You want to make sure the bag is flat and spread out tight against the ground. 

Why are we doing this?  The black plastic gets warm and heats the soil underneath and around the plants while they are young.  By watering under the plastic the water goes straight into the ground and as the days get warmer and evaporation begins the ground moisture hits the bottom side of the plastic and drips back into the ground so your plants may need less water and having a warmer environment makes them grow faster.  Once the vines really get going they will shade the ground from the full summer heat.

Just Planted Watermelon May 14

Above is a picture of our freshly planted watermelon plants.  The picture below is the same plants just one month later.  Look how fast they grew!

One Month After Planting June 13

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