Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Growing Watermelon in Open Land, in Raised Beds, or on a Trellis

Watermelons growing on open land

You have three choices for growing watermelons: open land, raised bed, or trellis. Unlike many other fruits and vegetables, watermelons simply require too much space to be suitable for container gardening.

Growing in Raised Beds

A large, elevated raised bed for easy access—perfect for watermelons!

Creating raised beds for your watermelon can be a lot of work the first time you set up your beds. Remember to build a bed big enough to contain the space-hogging watermelon! Having raised beds allows you more control over your growing environment.

You’ll discover that watering, weeding, and even harvesting are much easier—with plants closer to your reach and contained in a space that is more manageable than growing in open land. And once you create your raised beds the first time, subsequent years will be easier.

To create nicely contained raised beds for your watermelon, enclose your raised beds with wooden sides at least eight inches wide—this will help keep the bed together, be tall enough, and make irrigation easier, too.

Fill your raised beds with purchased garden soil and compost, and your garden will be less likely to contain the seeds of weeds that are often found in native soil. As a result, you’ll minimize the incidence of weeds overall, and save time and effort later. Weeding itself is much easier with raised beds, because you don’t have to get down so far on the ground to remove the weeds.

Growing on a Trellis

Trellised watermelons being supported by stockings while growing

If you’re really short on space, grow your watermelons vertically! Erect a trellis of wood or metal and plant your seedlings or seeds at the base. Once vines start to run, you can train them up the trellis using gardening twine. Then, when you see fruit set, it’s time to add a shelf or netting to hold the melon and keep it from pulling itself off the vine.
The trellis method has the advantage of keeping the vines and fruit off the ground, where they can be susceptible to soil-borne pests and diseases.

It’s Hip to be Square!

Square watermelon sliced

Although square watermelons are pricey in the store, you might want to try your hand at growing them yourself!

All you really need is a wooden box to put your growing melon in and it will take on the shape of the container. Cardboard won’t contain the melon as it grows. Commercial growers use specially-made glass boxes but these are hard to find.

This could be a fun project that helps get your kids interested in your garden! Just keep in mind the general harvested weight of the melon you’re growing when you build your box. It should allow the melon to gain size but not be so big the melon never comes in contact with it.

Where have you planted your watermelons? What challenges have you faced about planning where to plant your watermelons? Have you tried growing on a trellis? Please share your experiences here by commenting below.

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