In the early 1900s Chelsea, lowa was famous for melons grown on the sandy hills north of town. Farmers would fill their horse-drawn “triple box” wagons in the field, haul them to town, and sell the melons right from the wagons. Today SSE member Marvin Kucera is the only person growing this watermelon in Chelsea. Sweet, pink-fleshed, 15-20 pound fruits with white seeds will keep for several weeks once picked. 80-90 days.
History of the Plant
Paris says the true ancestor of the modern watermelon is indigenous to northeastern Africa: citrullus lanatus var. colocynthoides, known as gurum in Sudan and gurma in Egypt.
Learn to Grow Chelsea Watermelon
GROW: Move watermelons to the greenhouse or, if you don’t have a greenhouse, place them under a protective cloche in the garden for warmth. A minimum temperature of 16°C is recommended for growing on.
SOIL: Watermelon develops a much more robust root system under drier conditions when the roots are forced to explore water deep in the soil.
SOILLESS: Start seeds and root cuttings using a soilless mix.
HYDROPONICS: Thrives in a variety of hydroponic systems, including NFT, slab, and media-based systems. Use perlite or mineral wool as the growing medium.
AEROPONICS: Cuttings will root in aeroponic systems.
WATER: Requires moderate levels of water. Once established, they are fairly drought tolerant. Even soil moisture is necessary to prevent cracking fruits and blossom end rot. Avoid getting water on the leaves.
TIMELAP: The seedlings will emerge in 7-10 days. As soon as they emerge, provide plenty of light by placing the pots on a sunny windowsill.
FERTILISER: Watermelon seedlings do not need much fertilizer. Only start feeding them when they are 3-4 weeks old. Use a starter solution, which should be half the strength of complete indoor houseplant food, according to the manufacturer’s directions.
LIGHT: Keep the soil moist and warm, at a temperature of 21 – 22°C.
NUTRITIONAL: 0.6 grams fiber, 9.4 grams sugars, 11.5 grams total carbohydrates, 10.9 grams net carbohydrates
MEDICINAL: Watermelon is around 90% water, which makes it useful for staying hydrated in the summer. It can also satisfy a sweet tooth with its natural sugars.
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