ABOUT THE PLANT
Description: Jubilee Watermelon has sweet, firm, crisp, finely textured, bright pink-red/red flesh. They are oblong watermelons with a rind of alternating dark green and pale green stripes. Their vines can reach 10 feet or more in length. Mature in about 97 days.
Origin: Watermelons originated in Africa. The Jubilee watermelon was developed at the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station in Leesburg in 1963.
Usage: Fresh slices are eaten in hand, chunks are used in fresh fruit salads, or blended in refreshing fruit drinks, and frozen in desserts such as granitas, sorbets, or popsicles.
Interesting facts: According to Guinness World Records, Chris Kent (USA) grew a watermelon in 2013 that weighed 350.5 lbs.
HOW TO GROW
General requirements: These large watermelons require lots of space, warmth, and plenty of sunshine. The soil should be well-drained, sandy, or sandy loam, amended with compost, and have a pH between 5.5 and 7.5. Soil temperatures between 70-90 °F are ideal for seed germination. Expect germination in 7-10 days. Fertilize every 3-4 weeks with a fertilizer that has a balanced ratio like a 10-10-10. Mulching will help keep the soil moist and weeds down. Once the plants are well established, allow the soil surface to dry between watering. Watering deeply should be done by soaker hoses or drip irrigation rather than overhead methods. By keeping the leaves dry, fungal diseases are discouraged. The garden should be sunny, receiving 8 or more hours of full sun each day. In general, it is good to keep the melons off the ground. If the plants are sprawling along the garden, set the melons up on a brick or old pot.
In the garden: Directly sow 3-4 seeds ½-1 inch deep in 6-inch-high hills,4 feet apart and rows 6 feet apart. Soak the plants deeply every week until the vines begin to run. When the vines are 2 feet long, cut out the weaker plants and keep the healthiest looking plant at each hill.
In containers: Choose a pot that holds 10 gallons or more of soil per plant and has plenty of holes for drainage. Use a high-quality potting mix amended with compost. It is best to grow dwarf varieties because standard varieties will only produce 1-2 melons in a container. If you do plant standard varieties, you will probably have to water 2x a day in hot weather, and they will need plenty of room for the vines to run. The containers need to be in a place where they will receive 8 hours or more of full sun. After all danger of frost has passed, sow 3-4 seeds ½-1 inch deep per container and water thoroughly. After true leaves appear, remove all but the healthiest plant. Mulch with a layer of straw or shredded leaves to help keep the soil moist. Keep the soil continually moist, but not soggy, throughout the season. Fertilize with an all-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer every 3-4 weeks.
Transplanting: Start indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost date for your area. Sow 2-3 seeds ½-1 inch deep in peat pots using seed-starting soil. Keep them moist and warm at around 75°F. Once the seeds germinate, place them in a sunny window where they will receive 8 or more hours of sunlight, or use grow lights for 16 hours/day. After true leaves appear, keep the one best-looking plant by cutting away the others. When outdoor temperatures have reached 75°F and before you put them in the garden, the seedlings will need to be “hardened off”. To do this, set them outdoors in a lightly shaded area for an hour or two. The next day, give them a longer time outside, increasing the time a couple of hours each day until they remain outdoors overnight, still in their pots. Bury the pots in their hill or container to the same level as the soil in the peat pots. Water in thoroughly.
Fruits: Before harvesting, cut back on watering just to keep the plant alive. This causes the plant's efforts to be directed toward making more sugar for the fruits. It takes about 85 days from planting to harvesting the fruit. Watch for the tendril opposite the fruit to turn brown and dry. Then cut the fruit away with shears or a knife. Once cut from the vine, there is no more ripening, and the fruit will not get any sweeter.
Seeds: Scoop out the seeds and place them in a bowl of water. Good seeds will sink. Wash any pulp from the good seeds to be used later for eating. Jubilee watermelon is an heirloom hybrid and open-pollinated. To get seeds that will produce future melons the same as the parent, you must prevent cross-pollination.
Common name: Jubilee watermelon
Latin name: Citrullus lanatus
Growth habit: Vine
Life cycle: Annual
USDA Zones: 2-11
Seeds per ounce: Approximately 250-300