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How I grew my 207.6 lb Watermelon
*Below: Watermelon: Over-the-Top
Inches With Estimated Weight
Hunt and her Canadian record 207.6 pound
I must start by telling you I've only been growing
Giant Watermelons for about 5 years now. My husband
Phil & good friend Marv Mitchell have been a great
help in my quest to beat the Canadian Record. Bill
Donkers of Brights Grove, Ontario, held the previous
Canadian Record of 207.5 lbs. He was kind enough to
provide me with the seeds that broke his record. Thanks
Growing Giant Watermelons is more associated with
the hot, dry weather of the Southern US, than it is
with our typical Canadian summers. The summer of 2005
was an extremely hot and dry and had a real impact
on our pumpkin plants. The heat burned the leaves and
stunted the growth of the pumpkin plants. On the other
hand, our watermelon plants loved it.
We start with an area of 10' x 20' for each plant.
We have been working on our soil for many years and
feel that we are getting close to having it in great
condition for watermelons. Over the years we've added
copious amounts of aged manure and other organic materials.
Our Organic Matter was at 24% & the PH level was 7.2
to start the season. We would prefer the PH level to
be lower (6.7 or lower is best), but this is what we
had to work with. At each planting site we dug a hole
2' x 2' & 1.5' deep and added a mixture of cow & sheep
manure, peat moss & compost and covered it with clear
plastic to warm up the soil.
We start our seeds @ the 15th of April and file the
edges to help them break out of the hard casing. We
have found that germinating the seeds can sometimes
be a bit of a challenge. We soak the seeds for up to
6 hours in a mixture of water & 3% peroxide, which
is diluted to about 5%. Just enough peroxide to kill
any diseases the seed might be carrying. We place the
seeds directly into a 2-litre pot filled with Miracle-Gro
potting soil and place the pot in our germination cooler.
In the bottom of the cooler is a germination pad that
keeps the temperature @ 85 degrees F, until germination
occurs in a few days. They are slow to start and sometimes
take up to 2 weeks to break the surface. Once they
break through the surface we put them under artificial
light to keep them from getting too leggy. Keep the
light close to the top of the plant, so they're not
reaching for the light and move the light up as the
plant grows. We found that putting them in the window
causes the seedling to become leggy as they reach for
We transplant the seedlings into the ground @ the
3rd week in May or whenever the conditions permit.
We put them in the middle of our planting mounds and
protect them with a mini greenhouse. Fertilize with
a light solution of water soluble 10-52-10 to help
promote root growth. Once they are established and
starting to vine, we switched to a more balanced water
The main vine was growing out to about 8 ft when I
mistakenly cut the vine trying to thin out the plant.
This caused the plant to shoot out more vines from
the stump of the plant. We allowed these vines to grow
out to the full 20 ft before we terminated them. We
also trimmed the plant's secondary vines to help keep
the plant from getting out-of-control. The plant will
root at each leaf nod. We don't bury the entire vine,
as we found that it promoted disease and killed the
plant the one time we tried it. We do however place
a little dirt at every 4th or 5th leaf node to promote
root growth. This will keep the vine flat on the soil
and allow the roots to form at the other leaf nodes
that aren't covered.
Pollinating the fruit is a bit of a challenge as well.
The flowers are small and very fragile. We hand pollinated
them and covered them up afterwards. We found the best
time to do this was after the dew had dried from the
plant (about 8-9am). For some reason or another the
pollen never formed on the female flowers until then.
We took the male flowers, peeled the peddles off them
and gently rub the male all around the female flower.
You must make sure you see pollen on the flower or
it won't take. Once the female has been pollinated
cover it up with a small bag or cup. Don't try to cover
it like you would your pumpkins because the flowers
are too fragile.
Once the fruit begins to grow, watch the shape very
closely. You want to make sure that it is growing straight.
The shape of a bottle of water is what you're looking
for. During this early period we gave the plant about
a gallon of water a day, just enough to keep the soil
damp, not soaked. As the fruit grew we increased that
amount. During the peak periods we were giving each
plant about 5-8 gallons of water per day, more if it
was really dry. We continue to fertilize with 20-20-20
right up till the end of the season. We also foliar
fed the plant with Neptune's Harvest Fish/Seaweed mix
every two weeks.
Disease & pest control are a must. We sprayed with
Sevin to control bugs and used Benemyl as a fungicide.
We had trouble with moles and mice as well. The moles
were digging throughout the whole patch. We tried mothballs
to keep them out, but this didn't work all that well.
Next year we need to find something better. Mice were
chewing on the vines in search of water. Our solution
to that was to place a container of water in the patch
for them to drink. Beside it we placed a bag of mouse
poison to kill them off. This seemed to work fine.
Once the weather starts to cool (September) we covered
the plant completely at night. This helped keep the
plant warmer. We also covered the fruit at night with
a small blanket and put Styrofoam under the fruit to
keep the cool damp soil off bottom the fruit to keep
it from rotting.
Over time you will be able to fine-tune your own techniques
that suit the area where you grow. These directions
are only meant as guidelines. We will be handing out
seeds from Jane's Canadian Record watermelon during
the GVGO's 2006 Membership Drive. Seeds will also be
available through the GVGO. Email us at email@example.com or
contact us at: GVGO, C/o Jane Hunt, 4376 Hwy 35 N,
Cameron, Ontario, K0M 1G0. Supplies are very limited;
so only ask us for seeds if you really want to grow
Can Go 7% Under Or 19% Over Estimate
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