Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is grown in all parts of Namibia.
Watermelon is not only low in calories it’s packed full with nutrients and valuable health benefits.
Thirst-quenching fruits are an excellent source of potassium, vitamins A and C, dietary fiber and beta-carotene. They also include super-sized amounts of lycopene, a powerful anti-cancer compound. So go ahead and eat it up!
Select a site where your plants will get full sun and good air circulation. A gentle, north-facing slope is ideal. Watermelons grow in many kinds of soil, but prefer a light, sandy, fertile loam that drains easily. Add generous amounts of manure, compost and leaves to your garden and work the soil well prior to planting. Melons like lots of water, so keep the soil moist at all times.
How to Plant
For direct seeding, soak seeds in compost tea for 15 minutes prior to planting. Plant in hills 3cm high. For most varieties, sow two to three seeds per hill, spacing the hills about 3m apart. One week after seeding remove seedlings in the hill so only two seedlings after they have germinated. Small bush varieties may be spaced 3 feet apart.
Watermelons are heavy feeders. Apply an organic fertilizer during planting. Spray plants with liquid fertilizer and seaweed extract throughout the garden season. Cut back on nitrogen levels after flowers form. Continue with phosphorous and potassium applications until just before harvest.
Determining when to harvest watermelons can be difficult and requires some experience. For the most part when ripe, the curled tendril at the stem end dries to brown, the underside of the fruit turns yellow or cream colored, and the melon will yield a deep, resonant sound when thumped.
Allow 80-90 days for bush varieties to reach maturity and 90-100 days or more for the larger varieties.
Insect & Disease Problems
Cucumber beetles, aphids, mites, squash bugs, fusarium wilt, anthracnose, alternaria leaf spot, and curly top are some of the problems home gardeners should be on the lookout for. See the course on organic pest control for details.
Seed Saving Instructions
Watermelons will cross-pollinate, so isolate 800m from other varieties to maintain purity. When fruit is ready to eat, the seeds are also mature. Collect seeds and wash gently with a mild dishwashing soap. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry.