Bite into watermelons

By: Simon Webster | November 10, 2016

Get sticky exploring the world of watermelons with Simon Webster, who names his top choices for your patch.

Watermelon crop
Photo: Kirsten Bresciani

Watermelons can be grown relatively easily from warm temperate zones upwards. You will need at least 10 weeks of warm weather and up to four months to grow larger varieties.

In temperate regions that means planting between September (after the last frost) and December. You can stretch that out to January in subtropical and arid/semi- arid regions, and in the tropics you’ve got from August to February. 

When it comes to choosing cultivars, you’ll find a wide range available from online seed suppliers, with fruit that weighs from 1.5–16kg, and harvest times from 70–100 days.

Here's a selection of varieties, including heirlooms such as ‘Moon and Stars’, with markings that look like the night sky, to try in your patch:

Top Choices

'Allsweet’ – Large, oblong and disease resistant. 13 weeks to harvest.

‘Blacktail Mountain’ – Most cold-tolerant watermelon. Almost black skin, 5kg fruit.11–13 weeks to harvest.

‘Champagne’ – Large, dark green with orange flesh. 11–13 weeks to harvest.

‘Charleston elite’ – A more disease-resistant form of ‘Charleston Grey’ with large cylindrical fruit to 12kg. Bright red flesh. 12–13 weeks to harvest.

‘Cream of Saskatchewan’ – Champagne-coloured flesh and thin rind. Small, sweet and early 10–12 weeks to harvest.

‘Crimson Sweet’ (aka ‘Warpaint’) – Large (10–12kg), round heirloom variety. Sweet and juicy. Disease resistant. 12 weeks to harvest.

‘Golden Midget’ – Small (1.3kg) and round. Golden skin, pink flesh. Rare. Compact vine. 10 weeks to harvest.

‘Kleckley’s Sweet’ – Thin-skinned oblong, cold-tolerant heirloom dating back to late 1860s. Up to 16kg with sweet flesh and few seeds. 12 weeks to harvest.

‘Jam Melon’ – Hardy vine bearing small (up to 5kg) fruit that stores for up to a year and is good for jams and pickles. 12–14 weeks to harvest.

‘Japanese Creamy Fleshed Suika’ – White flesh with a mild, sweet flavour. 11–12 weeks to harvest.

‘Moon and Stars’ – Foliage and fruit have constellation-like yellow marks. Thick-skinned and long-storing heirloom. 13–14 weeks to harvest.

‘Mountain Sweet Yellow’ – 8kg fruit with yellow flesh and sweet, honey flavour. 14 weeks to harvest.

‘Sugarbaby’ – Small, round 3–5kg fruit will fit in the fridge. Compact growth. Easy to grow. 10 weeks to harvest.

‘Sweet Siberian’ – Small (4kg) with juicy orange flesh. 10 weeks to harvest. 

 

For much more on watermelons, from getting started to growing, pollination, pests, diseases and harvesting, get the latest copy of Issue 91 ABC Organic Gardener magazine. OUT NOW! 

Related topics

Plants & Vegetables, All Gardens, Issue 91 – November/December 2016, What to plant now