The Skill of Growing Square Watermelons at Home

The Skill of Growing Square Watermelons at Home

Growing square watermelons at home is a fascinating and rewarding gardening project that can yield unique and visually striking results. Square watermelons are not only a novelty but also easier to store and stack due to their shape. This guide will walk you through the detailed process of cultivating square watermelons in your own backyard.

Understanding Square Watermelons

Square watermelons are not genetically modified; they are regular watermelons grown in a confined space that forces them to take on a square shape. This is achieved by placing the young melons into square molds, typically made of glass or durable plastic, which restrict their growth into the desired form.

Choosing the Right Variety of Watermelon

To grow square watermelons, it is crucial to select the right variety. Smaller, more compact varieties are preferable as they fit more easily into molds and have a better chance of maturing into the square shape. Popular choices include:

  • Sugar Baby: A small, round watermelon variety known for its sweet taste and manageable size.
  • Golden Midget: Another small variety that matures quickly, making it ideal for square watermelon cultivation.

Preparing the Soil

Watermelons thrive in well-drained, sandy loam soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Here’s how to prepare your soil:

  1. Test the Soil: Use a soil test kit to check the pH and nutrient levels.
  2. Amend the Soil: Add compost or well-rotted manure to enrich the soil with organic matter.
  3. Ensure Good Drainage: Watermelons require well-drained soil to prevent root rot.

Planting Watermelon Seeds

  1. Start Indoors: In cooler climates, start watermelon seeds indoors about 3-4 weeks before the last frost date.
  2. Transplanting: When the seedlings have at least two sets of true leaves and the soil temperature is consistently above 70°F (21°C), they can be transplanted outdoors.
  3. Spacing: Space the plants about 3-5 feet apart in rows that are 5-7 feet apart to give them plenty of room to grow.

Creating the Square Molds

You can purchase or make your own square molds. Here’s how to create a simple mold:

  1. Materials: Use glass or clear, durable plastic to make a mold. Ensure it is non-toxic and has ventilation holes to prevent mold growth inside.
  2. Dimensions: The mold should be slightly larger than the young melon, allowing for some growth but restricting its final shape.
  3. Assembly: Construct the mold so it can be easily opened and closed around the young fruit.

Caring for Your Watermelon Plants

  1. Watering: Watermelons need consistent moisture, especially during flowering and fruiting. Water deeply and regularly, but avoid waterlogging the soil.
  2. Fertilizing: Use a balanced fertilizer when planting, and switch to a high-phosphorus fertilizer when the plants begin to flower.
  3. Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the plants to retain moisture and control weeds.

Inserting the Watermelon into the Mold

  1. Timing: Insert the young melon into the mold when it is about the size of a baseball.
  2. Securing: Gently place the melon into the mold and secure it to prevent movement.
  3. Monitoring: Regularly check the melon’s growth and ensure it is not experiencing too much pressure or mold build-up.

Harvesting Square Watermelons

  1. Maturity: Watermelons are typically ready for harvest about 80-90 days after planting. Signs of ripeness include a dull skin, a hollow sound when tapped, and a yellow spot on the underside where it rests on the ground.
  2. Removing from the Mold: Carefully open the mold and remove the watermelon. Handle it gently to avoid bruising.
  3. Storing: Store the harvested watermelon in a cool, dry place.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Pests and Diseases

  • Aphids and Beetles: Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control pests.
  • Fungal Diseases: Ensure good air circulation and avoid overhead watering to reduce the risk of fungal infections.

Growth Issues

  • Poor Fruit Development: Ensure the plants receive adequate water and nutrients.
  • Misshapen Fruits: Make sure the molds are properly placed and the melons are inserted at the correct stage.

Benefits of Growing Square Watermelons

  • Novelty and Aesthetics: Square watermelons are visually unique and make for great conversation pieces.
  • Space Efficiency: Their shape makes them easier to stack and store.
  • Market Potential: Square watermelons can fetch a higher price in niche markets due to their novelty.

Growing square watermelons at home is a fun and rewarding project that combines gardening skills with a touch of creativity. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can cultivate your own square watermelons and enjoy the fruits of your labor, both literally and figuratively.