Growing Watermelon in Kansas: Tips and Tricks for a Successful Harvest

By: Carolyn J. Vance

Growing Watermelon in Kansas: Tips and Tricks for a Successful Harvest

Watermelons are a delicious and refreshing fruit that can be grown in many different climates, including Kansas. While Kansas may not be known for its tropical weather, with the right techniques and strategies, you can successfully grow watermelons in your own backyard.

1. Choose the Right Variety: When it comes to growing watermelons in Kansas, selecting the right variety is crucial. Look for watermelon varieties that have a shorter growing season and are more tolerant to cooler temperatures. Some popular varieties include ‘Crimson Sweet’ and ‘Sugar Baby’.

2. Start Seeds Indoors: Since the growing season in Kansas is relatively short, it’s advisable to start watermelon seeds indoors. Use seed trays or pots filled with seed starting mix. Keep the soil consistently moist and warm until the seeds germinate. Once the seedlings have sprouted, you can transplant them into your garden.

3. Provide Adequate Sunlight: Watermelons thrive in full sunlight, so choose a sunny spot in your garden for planting. Make sure the area receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Consider planting watermelons on a south-facing slope to maximize sun exposure.

4. Prepare the Soil: Watermelons require well-draining soil with a pH level of 6.0-6.8. Before planting, amend the soil with organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure to improve its fertility and drainage. Remove any rocks or debris from the soil to prevent hindered root growth.

5. Proper Watering: Watermelons have high water requirements, especially during hot and dry periods. Provide consistent moisture to the plants by watering deeply, ensuring the soil stays evenly moist. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to rotting of the fruit.

6. Control Weeds and Pests: Regularly weed your watermelon patch to prevent competition for nutrients and water. Additionally, protect your plants from common pests like aphids and cucumber beetles by using row covers or organic pest control methods.

7. Harvesting: Watermelons are ready for harvest when the tendril closest to the fruit turns brown and dry. Gently tap the fruit – if it sounds hollow, it’s ripe and ready to be picked. Cut the fruit from the vine using a sharp knife, leaving a few inches of stem attached.

By following these tips and techniques, you can successfully grow watermelons in Kansas and enjoy a sweet taste of summer in your own backyard.

Choosing the Right Watermelon Variety for Kansas

When it comes to growing watermelons in Kansas, choosing the right variety is crucial. The climate and soil conditions in Kansas can have a significant impact on the success of your watermelon plants. Here are a few factors to consider when selecting the best watermelon variety for Kansas:

  • Days to maturity: Kansas has a relatively short growing season, so it’s essential to choose a watermelon variety with a shorter maturation period. Look for varieties that mature in around 80 to 90 days to ensure that you can harvest ripe watermelons before the first frost.
  • Size and weight: Consider the size and weight of the watermelons the variety produces. Smaller or mini watermelons might be a better choice if you have limited space or if you plan to sell them at local farmers’ markets.
  • Taste and texture: Watermelon flavor and texture can vary greatly between different varieties. It’s worth researching and selecting a variety that is known for its delicious taste and crisp texture to ensure an enjoyable eating experience.
  • Growing habit: Some watermelon varieties have vining or sprawling growth habits, while others are more compact and suitable for smaller gardens or container growing. Choose a variety that fits your available garden space or preferred growing method.

By considering these factors and doing some research on the different watermelon varieties, you can choose the best-suited variety for growing in Kansas. Each variety has its own unique characteristics, so take the time to find the one that meets your preferences and growing conditions.

Preparing the Soil for Watermelon

Before planting watermelons in Kansas, it is crucial to prepare the soil properly. The right soil conditions are essential for watermelon plants to grow and produce high-quality fruits. Here are some steps to prepare the soil for watermelon cultivation:

1. Soil Testing

Start by conducting a soil test to assess the nutrient levels and pH of the soil. Watermelons prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.8. The soil test results will guide you in determining any necessary amendments that need to be made to achieve the ideal pH and nutrient balance.

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2. Clear the Area

Clear the planting area from any weeds, rocks, or debris. Watermelons require ample space to spread and grow, so it is essential to have a clean and clear area. Remove any grass or vegetation and level the ground for optimal watermelon cultivation.

3. Organic Matter

Add organic matter to the soil to improve its structure, drainage, and nutrient content. Compost, well-rotted manure, or leaf mold are excellent choices for adding organic matter. Spread a layer of organic matter over the planting area and mix it into the soil using a garden fork or tiller. This will help retain moisture and supply essential nutrients to the watermelon plants.

4. Fertilizer

Based on the soil test results, apply the appropriate fertilizer to the soil before planting. Watermelons have high nutrient requirements, so it is important to ensure they have access to sufficient nutrients throughout their growth cycle. Use a balanced fertilizer or one specifically formulated for fruiting plants, following the instructions on the package for application rates.

5. Soil Moisture

Watermelons require consistent soil moisture for optimal growth and fruit development. Ensure the soil is well-drained but retains enough moisture to prevent drying out. Adequate irrigation is crucial, especially during the hot and dry summer months in Kansas.

Following these soil preparation steps will create an ideal environment for watermelon plants to thrive in Kansas. By providing the correct pH, nutrient balance, and soil conditions, you can increase the chances of a successful watermelon harvest.

Planting and Growing Watermelon in Kansas

When it comes to planting and growing watermelon in Kansas, there are several key factors to consider. Watermelon is a warm-season crop that requires full sun and well-draining soil. It also needs a long growing season, so it’s best to start planting in late spring or early summer.

Watermelons also require fertile soil with plenty of organic matter. Adding compost or well-rotted manure to the soil before planting will help improve its fertility and moisture-holding capacity. It’s recommended to add about 2 to 4 inches of organic matter and work it into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil.

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When it comes to spacing, watermelon plants need to be given enough room to spread their vines. It’s recommended to plant watermelon seeds or seedlings in hills or mounds, with a spacing of about 6 to 8 feet between each hill. Within the hill, space the seeds or seedlings about 2 to 3 feet apart.

Harvesting watermelons in Kansas typically occurs in late summer to early fall. You can tell that a watermelon is ripe by examining its skin color, which should have a dull appearance, and by thumping the fruit to listen for a hollow sound. Use a sharp knife or shears to cut the fruit from the vine, leaving about an inch of stem attached.

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