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Old 06-12-2007, 06:53 PM   #1
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ISO help planting watermelons

My seven-year old, Daniel, would like to have some fresh watermelon, and requested we plant some seeds in the backyard.

Today, I returned home with a pack of seeds, and am a little confused by the directions. You can click on the image below for all the directions, but the part I am hoping someone can help me with is:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seed packet
...or sow 6 seeds over a hill 9 to 12 inches tall and 2 feet across.


What does this mean? I need mounds in the yard?

Thanks for any advice for growing Sugar Baby Watermelon.

Tom

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Old 06-12-2007, 07:26 PM   #2
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Hi, Tom. I'm a gardener but have no experience with watermelons other than eating them. However, we have some very experienced gardeners here who will surely have an answer for you.

I hope Daniel enjoys working in the garden with you and, equally, enjoys eating the fruits of your labor.
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Old 06-12-2007, 07:39 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomW
What does this mean? I need mounds in the yard?
I am pretty sure that is exactly what they mean, although if you just plant then without the mounds I am sure they will still grow.
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Old 06-12-2007, 09:26 PM   #4
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Tom....

The planting instructions are optimal for the home gardener. However: a smaller "hill" will be fine in your back yard! You do understand that this plant will produce vines 6-10 feet in length? In every direction!! One "hill" of watermelons will take up a lot of backyard space. It's a great project for father and son!! Good luck!

Enjoy!
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Old 06-13-2007, 05:17 AM   #5
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The hills help give you more space, kind of like 'stacking'. The vines the plant will produce are huge and will creep all over your garden. If you give them a bit of a hill to climb down, you can save a bit of space.
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Old 06-13-2007, 08:27 AM   #6
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Watermelons are heavy feeders and require a lot of water. A very easy way to provide those things is to punch holes in the bottom of a large juice can (like Hi C comes in). Insert that can into the center top of the hill, and plant the seeds around it. Then, when you water and feed your plants, pour the liquid directly into the can. The liquids will drain down directly to the roots of the plants instead of running off the top of the soil.
As Uncle Bob said, the vines will run everywhere. They are sensitive and easily broken, so as they grow, it is advisable to put a mulch down underneath them to keep the weeds down. straw, landscape fabric or even several layers of newpapers will work. The mulch will also keep the developing melons off the dirt, preventing them from rotting on the bottom.
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Old 06-13-2007, 08:31 AM   #7
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Two years ago, my other half got three watermelon seedlings and planted them in our small flower garden. I told her they would spread everywhere, but she didn't believe me.

Sure enough, three weeks later, guess what? Vines everywhere. I ended up building an A-frame out of scrap lumber, and some chicken wire. I draped the vines over and around the framework. Any resulting fruit were supported by old onion bags (the plastic mesh kind that 25 and 50 lbs of onions come in) and some S-hooks attached to the chicken wire.
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Old 06-13-2007, 09:58 AM   #8
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Just a funny story about my son (who was about 5 at the time) and watermelons. One July, he and his cousin ate watermelon at grandma's house, and planted the seeds. Grandma lived in Illinois, and we lived in Kentucky at the time.

We went home to Kentucky, and moved into a new house that fall. When I mowed off the garden area, I discovered that the previous tenants had planted potatoes, and they were ready to harvest. My son had a wonderful time digging (and eating) potatoes.

Come Thanksgiving, we headed back to Grandma's. First thing Rob said when he got out of the car: "Is it time to dig my watermelons yet?"
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Old 06-13-2007, 11:41 AM   #9
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No intent to highjack the thread.

My DW came home with a watermelon last night from the supermarket. What garbage! It tastes nothing like I remember as a kid. And where'd the seeds go?

I hope your planting produces some nice, flavorful ones.
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Old 06-13-2007, 06:30 PM   #10
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First off, the tiny "hills" you create when planting squashes, melons, etc., will not "give you more space". A plant that creates 10-20 feet of vine is not going to care about a little 12" hill - lol!!! (Whoever told you that Verablue was pulling your leg.)

You don't need to plant in "hills". Think of pumpkin fields - are they planted in hills? No. "Hills" just provide better drainage for the sprouting seed, which can easily rot without it. Big-time farms don't care about that; backyard farmers (like me) do. But it's not necessary. Normally you plant a number of seeds in a "hill" & then either pinch off or transplant more than 2 or 3 in each "hill". The vines will spread everywhere, but how rampant depends on the variety. Many "bush" & "semi-bush" varieties are far less invasive.

Once your vines start to produce fruit, remove all but 2-3 per vine to encourage growth to those few.

Melons are a lot of fun to grow - & SugarBaby is a good one to start with as the fruits remain small, are very sweet, & mature early.
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Old 06-13-2007, 08:05 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BreezyCooking
First off, the tiny "hills" you create when planting squashes, melons, etc., will not "give you more space". A plant that creates 10-20 feet of vine is not going to care about a little 12" hill - lol!!! (Whoever told you that Verablue was pulling your leg.)

You don't need to plant in "hills". Think of pumpkin fields - are they planted in hills? No. "Hills" just provide better drainage for the sprouting seed, which can easily rot without it. Big-time farms don't care about that; backyard farmers (like me) do. But it's not necessary. Normally you plant a number of seeds in a "hill" & then either pinch off or transplant more than 2 or 3 in each "hill". The vines will spread everywhere, but how rampant depends on the variety. Many "bush" & "semi-bush" varieties are far less invasive.

Once your vines start to produce fruit, remove all but 2-3 per vine to encourage growth to those few.

Melons are a lot of fun to grow - & SugarBaby is a good one to start with as the fruits remain small, are very sweet, & mature early.
Simple mathematics, dollface...if you have a square foot flat surface for growing, and then, in that same square foot surface, place hills, adding height, in addition to width, only the numerically challenged would suggest you are not getting more space.....but you go ahead and see it your way, mmkay..?
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Old 06-14-2007, 09:21 AM   #12
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Actually, it has nothing at all to do with mathematics (& I'm not numerically challenged, in case you were worried). It's simply common sense that regardless of how large/high you make your hills for spreading varieties of squash, melons, etc., it doesn't make a hill of beans of difference (pun intended) to plants that spread 10-20+ feet. Exactly what "space" are you saving? All you're doing is providing additional drainage. The extra few inches provided due to the height/width of the "hill" is laughable as far as space is concerned with these varieties. Trust me - I come from a long line of farmers. This was their business.

(Oh, & just a FYI - except for my husband & a few close friends, no one else is allowed to call me "dollface" - lol!!!!)
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Old 06-14-2007, 10:08 AM   #13
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BreezyCooking is correct on this one. The purpose of "hills" is not to save space. It MAY save 1/2 inch of space, but that is meaningless in regards to watermelon culture. The vines spread so far, that the space the plant is first raised is inconsequential.

I too was puzzled by the concept of "hills" when I first started gardening. I do not raise watermelons, but I do raise another vining plant, winter squash. I find that I just forget about the concept of "hills" and I do just fine! We plant the seeds in the level ground, about 6 to 8 feet apart, and then stand back. We use the mulching system extensively in our garden, so even before the seeds germinate, the entire area is covered in about one foot of hay.
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Old 07-18-2007, 12:12 PM   #14
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Green Acres is the place to be! Farm living is ...

Thanks for the replies, everyone!

The same evening I posted my original question asking about the hills, my wife walked by me working at the computer and noticed the seed pack as I had yet to share the father-son project with her. "While you're at it", she said, "I would love some garden-fresh cucumber ".

Later, after returning from the seed store, I noticed the cucumber seeds' planting directions called out the same "plant on a hill" requirement. So I started calling up all my relatives that I knew might have some insight to the matter.

The concensus was that the hills were there for drainage as the roots don't care much for sitting in a puddle. Planting the seeds in a sloped field would accomplish the same thing. Luckily, I had just such a full-sun area in my back yard. The seeds were planted on a Sunday afternoon, and had germinated by Wednesday.

I noticed yesterday that the plants are starting to flower. There will be watermelon and fresh cukes before ya know it. And yes, as mentioned by AllenOK, the vines are starting to take over the yard. Maybe I'll make a batch of Aunt Bea's Kerosene Pickles out of the cucumbers we can't eat.

Thanks again,
Tom
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Old 07-18-2007, 12:38 PM   #15
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Tom you are right but it is more for the moisture that can cause the young plants to be ruined by fursaruim wilt or a seedling fungus called damping off.

I'll mound for pumpkins, watermelon, summer squash, and zucchini. The top of the mound is about a 2' circle but only 4 to 6 inches higher than the bed. I like to mix the mound soil with compost 3 parts soil to 1 part compost. Make the top slightly concave so when you water you don't just erode away the mound. FYI find that the vines can root at nodes if you put a little soil over them. The added rooting buffers your battle with squash borer that can hit the base of the vine.
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Old 09-03-2007, 06:00 AM   #16
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In conclusion

I believe this year's garden has run its course as all the leaves are starting to yellow, and what cucumbers are coming in don't look as good as they did in the beginning. Thanks again for everyone's help.

Tom
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:40 PM   #17
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AllenOK,

I used to raise cucumbers, squash and pumpkins the same way, by trellising and supporting them. But I always got into trouble for stealing my wife's panty hose for them to grown in.
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Old 09-07-2007, 01:01 PM   #18
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Wow - those pics look fabulous!! Just like the ones you see in seed catalogs - lol!!!

The few times I grew cucumbers (actually, just the the little French Cornichons from seeds a friend brought me directly from France), I found a great & fun way to grow them was on 2 panels of that inexpensive criss-cross thin-wood trellis stuff that all the big box stores sell for blocking off underneath decks & stuff. The folks we bought our 1st farm from had a couple of these panels kicking around, & I tied them together teepee fashion & planted my Cornichons on either side. They grew like gangbusters, didn't need any tieing, & were really easy to pick. An added plus was that I was able to grow summer lettuces inside the teepee as well as right around the outside where the cucumber plants/leaves provided shade.

I don't think those panels would be strong enough for melons, pumpkins, or winter squash, but for small cukes they worked great.
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