Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Crazy Gardening Project with Watermelons

They sprouted!

They grew!

I planted watermelons.  While it may seem pretty odd that I'd be so giddy about something as common as a watermelon, there's actually good reason for it.

First, nobody around here plants watermelon.  

Indeed, most people that know I did so reacted with surprise.

"Can they grow here?!"

Well, to be honest, I had no clue.  All I knew was that I had an old seed packet that managed to travel across the country with me, and I didn't want it to go to waste, simply because I didn't know if watermelon would grow.

Don't get me wrong, I knew they'd sprout.  I just wasn't sure about the whole 'living past seedling stage' thing.  This gardening project was worth it, though, since I wasn't really spending any money on it.  I already had the watermelon seeds, and I had extra soil to use for the mound I'd plant them in.

My other problem was that I was planting the seeds a bit late.  

Really, I should have planted them in early June, but I waited until almost July.  Oops.  My sense of when to plant is rather jumbled up right now.  Back at my old home in the desert southwest, I would have planted them in April.  Crazy what a difference a few time zones can make, right?

Like cucumbers, watermelon prefers to be grown in a mound structure, so I had to apply extra soil to my edible garden in order to get that effect.  I planted about seven seeds throughout the mound, then waited for the sprouting to happen. 

My daughter grabbed some soil and a handful of seeds and planted her own watermelon mound, as well, about three feet away.  I briefly considered telling her to pull up all of the wildflowers in the location, and to only plant a couple of seeds, but then decided that I could always pick the six or seven seedlings that were bound to come up all in the same place, leaving only 1 to grow.  

She didn't exactly use a large amount of dirt.  I mean, she's three years old, after all.  A three year old can only pick up so much soil at a time!  She was quite proud of herself, and I was pretty proud of her, as well..

After what felt like forever, but was really just under a week, four seeds sprouted from my watermelon mound.  

I watched them for a few days, then plucked the one that looked the most fickle.  You only want about three to four plants within your mound, see, and I decided to be conservative about it, not knowing what the watermelon survival rate would be.

After a while, they really started to shoot up!  The little plants filled out with leaves, making me a very happy person.

The one on the right is pretty tiny, as you can see, and I'm not sure it'll do very well.
Cross your fingers for me!
  

Unfortunately, since this portion of my edible garden was planted in my wild area, they seemed to have to work a little harder to attain the level of light that they needed, due to the surrounding growth.  The stems grew a little longer than I would have liked.

It's more obvious in the stem on the left.
My daughter's watermelon mound had the same problem, but more so.  Her mound was way smaller, so light had an even harder time getting through.  I'm basically throwing all of my energy into just keeping it alive.


Will my watermelons produce fruit for me?  I'm honestly not sure.  

Based on how late I planted the seeds, they won't begin fruit production until the end of September, at earliest, and more likely, not until October.  To give you some idea of what that means, our average high is about 72 degrees in September, and 59 degrees in October.  Yikes!

It sure is a good thing that I've begun constructing a cold frame!  If I can manage to complete it in time, I may be able to use it to protect the watermelons from the cold.   

I'm also worried about black walnut toxicity.  Those black walnut trees are really beginning to feel like the bane of my existence! 

I'm thinking I may be just a little nuts.  This gardening project has a very high chance of ending up a complete failure. 

But then again... I enjoy a challenge.  Whether I succeed or fail, I'll know that at least I tried, and that makes all the difference in the world.  Would you attempt to place watermelons in your edible garden in this climate?



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