Watermelons are a popular food in the United States. They have been grown commercially since the late 1800’s. There are many varieties of watermelons, but they all grow from seeds or suckle their young leaves and fruits from cuttings taken from other plants. Most varieties are greenish-yellow with dark stripes and bright red spots on them. Some varieties may even appear purple or pink in color. All types of watermelons are susceptible to several kinds of diseases.
The most common disease affecting watermelons is the black spot (Sclerotinia). Black spots are caused by Sclerotinia spp., which are tiny parasitic wasps that feed on immature fruit tissue.
These wasps lay eggs inside the fruit and then leave behind larvae that cause black spots. Once these larvae hatch, they pupate and emerge again as adults. When the adult wasp emerges it feeds on the developing fruit tissue until it hatches its next generation of larva. Larvae develop into maggots that eventually die and fall off the plant. Maggot infestations can spread through wind currents or be carried by rainwater runoff to nearby areas where they can infect other plants.
Another common disease is known as anthracnose, or Colorado potatoe leaf-spot (Glomerella). These diseases are spread by airborne spores that can affect both the leaves and fruits of the plant.
They form black spots on the fruits and deepen the green of the plant’s leaves. While these diseases do not kill the plant, they cause major drops in crop yields.
There are many other fungal and viral diseases that can affect watermelons. It is important to take preventative measures against all types of plant diseases.
There are many ways to prevent your watermelons from getting disease. One, the best way to avoid disease is to start with healthy plants.
When you purchase your seeds or starter plants, make sure that they appear green and free from disease. Certain varieties are more prone to certain diseases, so be aware when you are choosing a variety for your garden.
Once you have your starter plants, make sure that they are not planted too close to other watermelon plants. This allows for air flow and sunlight and will help to keep your plants healthy.
Watermelons need a lot of sunlight to thrive, so plant them in a sunny area of your garden or purchase a large sun lamp.
Watering is an important part of keeping your plants disease free. Watermelons need at least an inch of water per week.
Overwatering can cause just as many problems as underwatering, so be sure to keep this in mind.
Avoid using chemical pesticides and fungicides when growing watermelons. Many of these will kill the plants before disease ever has the chance to.
One or two applications may be necessary if your plants appear to be sick with disease, but other than that, just healthy plants and watering should keep your watermelons free of disease.
When it comes time to harvest your plants, make sure that you do not allow soil to enter the inside of the fruit when you carve it open. This can cause bacteria and fungus to enter the flesh of the fruit.
Once you have carved open the watermelon, rinse it off with a water hose to prevent bacteria from getting inside.
It is important to keep your watermelons disease free. These few tips will help to ensure a bountiful harvest come harvest time!
Some watermelons are grown not only for their fleshy interior but for their hard shells as well. Ranging in size from that of a small child to that of a small car, these melons have the potential to be used as boats or houses.
They also make unique additions to any yard display, and are a welcome gift at any occasion.
How to Plant
Decide where in your backyard you will plant your watermelon. As the melon grows, it requires an extensive root system.
It should be planted away from other plants and walkways alike, as they have a tendency to spread out.
Plant your seeds one to two inches deep in rich soil. Keep the area watered, but not flooded, throughout the growth process.
In the early fall, once the nights have become noticeably cooler than the daytime, you can anticipate an enormous harvest of your delicious watermelons.
How to Harvest
Your watermelons are ripe when you can easily slip a hand between the vines and the melon itself. Alternatively, you can wait until the skin has become more transparent and no longer green.
Use a garden trowel to cut into it, if necessary. If it’s ripe, it will slip right out. Otherwise, wait a few more days or weeks before harvesting.
How to Eat
Watermelons can be eaten in a number of ways. Some people prefer to slice it in half and eat it like that, others cut chunks off of it, and yet others like to hollow it out and turn it into a boat or a house for children.
Still, others like to cut it into cubes or even spread the flesh onto a flat surface and eat it like jam.
Whatever you decide to do with your melon, be sure to refrigerate it after cutting into it. Leaving it at room temperature can allow bacteria to grow inside of it, making it dangerous to eat.
How to Store
If you won’t be eating your watermelon right away, store it in the refrigerator. This will keep the flavors from blending and allow you to have fresh tasting melon longer.
Watermelons are extremely susceptible to bacteria. Keep your knife and hands clean while preparing it.
If your melon develops a thick greenish or grayish coat on the shell, or if the underside of the shell has a powdery mildew growth, don’t eat it as it has developed a fungal growth and is unsafe to eat.
Watermelons are delicious, refreshing treats that can be enjoyed at any time of the year. They’re quite easy to grow as well, making them a fun and productive way to pass the time on a warm summer’s day!
2 Cups of Watermelon, Cubed
4 Cups of Cold Water
1 Tablespoon of Honey (Or Sugar)
¼ Teaspoon of Cinnamon
Place all ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth. Pour into two glasses and enjoy!
Makes 2 servings.
Watermelon Ice Cubes
2 Cups of Watermelon, Cubed
Place all ingredients into a freezer safe bowl and place in the freezer until frozen solid. Use these colorful ice cubes in your next pitcher of lemonade or iced tea!
If you have extra watermelon, save the rind! Cut it into one inch cubes and dry it in your oven on its lowest setting.
This creates a great natural snack for your pet rodents and is much healthier for them than store bought treats.
Sources & references used in this article:
Rule-Based System for Watermelon Diseases and Treatment by BS Abu-Nasser, SS Abu Naser – International Journal of Academic …, 2018 – papers.ssrn.com
Cognitive System for Helping Farmers in Diagnosing Watermelon Diseases by BS Abu-Nasser, SS Abu-Naser – International Journal of …, 2018 – researchgate.net
Wet seed treatment with peroxyacetic acid for the control of bacterial fruit blotch and other seedborne diseases of watermelon by DL Hopkins, CM Thompson, J Hilgren… – … Disease, 2003 – Am Phytopath Society