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Growing Good Food at Home

Choosing the Right Variety of Watermelon

Charleston Gray Watermelon

Before you plant a single seed or seedling, you have to decide on a variety that fits your space, sunny growing season, and desired melon size. Because watermelons require a great deal of space, you’ll have to choose one of the hybrid smaller varieties if you’re limited in garden acreage.

At the same time, watermelons require a lot of sunshine—up to 100 days of it, in fact, depending on the variety. That means you have to choose a variety with a shorter time to harvest if you live in an area with a short summer.

Alternately, you can get a head start on the growing season by buying seedlings, or by starting seeds indoors up to eight weeks before you’ll plant outside in the garden.

Here are some varieties for gardens limited in space (all of which are correspondingly small melons):

  • Bush Charleston Gray: 90 days to harvest. Spreads 3 to 5 feet across.
  • Bush Jubilee: 90 to 100 days to harvest. Spreads 3 to 5 feet.
  • Bush Sugar Baby: 75 to 80 days to harvest. Spreads 3 to 3½ feet. Note: This variety works well for shorter growing seasons, too.

Here are some varieties for gardens with more space (again, with correspondingly larger fruit, for gardeners going for the really big boys):

  • Calsweet: 90 to 92 days to harvest. Allow up to 10 feet of space.
  • Charleston Gray: 85 to 100 days to harvest. Allow up to 10 feet of space.
  • Crimson Sweet: 80 to 97 days to harvest. Allow up to 10 feet of space.
  • King of Hearts: 80 to 85 days to harvest. Allow up to 10 feet of space.

And, finally, if your growing season is short, here are some varieties that ripen more quickly than others:

  • Cole’s Early: 80 days to harvest.
  • Fordhook Hybrid: 75 days to harvest.
  • Yellow Baby: 75 days to harvest.
  • Yellow Doll: 65 to 70 days to harvest.
  • Bush Sugar Baby (see above): 75 to 80 days to harvest.

Have you ever grown any of these watermelon varieties? Which varieties have you grown and how successful were you with your crop? Please share your tips for growing watermelons.

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