Nutrition & Growing Tips Watermelon

Watermelon is a member of the cucumber (Cucurbits) family. It is a native plant of the Kalahari Desert in Africa and can grow under extreme UV radiation, high heat and drought; it has evolved as a melon full of free radical fighting power. Watermelon is used in cosmetics and toiletries for skin protection; and it is a very healthy fruit to include in your diet.

On a recent stop to a farm stand, owner Chris Chiaccio, of Tony’s Farm & Garden Center in Windsor, NJ commente

 “I feel better when I eat watermelon.”

She may feel better from eating watermelon for 3 reasons:Watermelon is 90% water; it is hydrating and makes us feel refreshed,Watermelon has energy-yielding natural sugars ,Watermelon contains vitamins, minerals and other compounds

Watermelon is low calorie. A one cup serving is only 46 calories.Like most fruit, watermelon is fat-free and has no cholesterol. Watermelon has a lot more than just water and sugars
Watermelon contains health-promoting nutrients, such as vitamin A, potassium, citrulline; and beneficial antioxidants, such as lycopene, beta carotene and vitamin C.
Antioxidants have disease fighting properties that may help prevent cancer and reduce heart risks.

Citrulline is a potential antioxidant that helps maintain blood flow and heart health.
Watermelon per 100 grams (about 8 melon balls)

Varieties of Watermelon

There are many varieties of watermelon grown in the U.S. and they vary by state. California farmers primarily grow ‘Fiesta’, ‘Laurel’, ‘Nova’, ‘Sangria’, and Wonderland. In Florida you might find ‘Dillon’, Ecstasy, ‘Freedom’, ‘Genesis’ and ‘Mohican’. In the Texas high plains, farmers primarily grow ‘Allsweet’ and ‘Jubilee’.[5] Dave’s Gardeners have grown varieties that include: ‘Raspa’, ‘Triton’, ‘Matador’, ‘Emperor’, ‘Pinata’ and ‘Schochler’. Visit PlantFiles here on Dave’s Garden to discover even more watermelon varieties.

Growing Watermelons
In General
Watermelons require a long growing season–about 3 months from planting to harvest–and need warm soil temperatures and full sun. The vines are rambling, and in most varieties the fruits are fairly large. The vines can easily spread 6 to 8 feet in their first month. After a few months blossoms appear, then baby melons. When the melons are ripe, they have a light, yellowish area touching the ground and their tendrils are longer and less green. They are then ready to be hand-picked.

Seedless Watermelons
Growing seedless watermelons require an extra step, but it is by no means difficult. Start with fresh seed; the seed is only good for a year. [6] To grow seedless watermelons, a second type of melon with seeds has to be planted in the same area. The second melon is considered the pollinizer and should be something that is noticeably different from your seedless variety, such as a smaller size or a solid color. For example, farmer Ray Hlubik (pronounced Lubik) of Hlubik Farms in Chesterfield, NJ uses 2 different pollinizers in a 1/2-acre patch containing several seedless varieties.His pollinizers, which make up about 25% of his crop, include a solid green ‘Sugar Baby’ type and also a very small watermelon that won’t compete for growing space with his seedless melons.

Seedless watermelons are a result of a crossing traditional, diploid, seeded melons with tetraploidmelons. The result is a hybrid, seedless, triploid species. This simply means that the numbers of chromosomes are different, and genetically the seedless melon will be sterile. The seedless will still get flowers, but will need help in pollination from a nearby diploid pollinizer. Honeybees are the key for a successful watermelon crop, since the pollen in watermelon blossoms is heavy and sticky and requires more than just the wind to transfer it from flower to flower.

Growing watermelon in a small garden
When there is a will, there is a way! Thanks to the many varieties of melons available, selecting a smaller-sized melon may work for your small garden area. Some people have even grown watermelon off their high rise balconies successfully! In small garden situations the melon vines can be trellised and the fruit can be harnessed with expandable netting or pantyhose. This technique can also be done with other climbers that bear heavy fruit or vegetables.