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Watermelon Sugar Baby

SUGAR BABY WATERMELON

ABOUT THE PLANT

Description: Sugar Baby watermelons are small fruits that are 7 to 8 inches across and weigh 8-10 lbs. They are solid dark green on the outside and have a bright red, firm, and fine-grained flesh that is super sweet on the inside. The vines run 2-3 feet in length and generally produce 2 fruits each maturing in about 75 days.

Origin: Watermelons originate in Africa. Sugar Baby watermelon was developed by M. Hardin in Geary Oklahoma and introduced by Woodside Seed Company in 1955.

Usage: Eat fresh slices in hand or add chunks to fruit salads, to make refreshing blended drinks or frozen desserts.

Interesting facts: Dogs can eat watermelon if the seeds and rind are removed first.

HOW TO GROW

General requirements: 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. 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. 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 soil should be kept consistently moist, but not soggy. The garden should be sunny, receiving 8 or more hours of full sun each day. 

In the garden: Direct-seed 4-5 seeds ½-1 inch deep into hills that are 4 to 6 feet apart when the soil temperature is 70 °F or warmer.  If using a trellis, you can plant them 3 feet apart.   When the vines are 2 feet long, cut out the weaker plants and keep the healthiest looking one at each hill. If using a trellis, you will need to train the vines up the trellis. You will also need to support your sugar baby watermelons as they grow.  You can make slings out of old nylon hosiery or old T-shirts, and tie them to the trellis. 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 containers: Choose a pot that holds 5-10 gallons or more of soil per plant and has plenty of holes for drainage. Use a high-quality potting mix amended with compost. 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 one. 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 the outdoor temperature has 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.


HARVESTING:

Fruits: When the tendril nearest the fruit turns brown, that’s a good sign of ripeness.  Also look at the spot where the melon rests on the ground. It should be a bright yellow.  

Seeds: When the melon is ripe, cut it open and scoop out the seeds. Wash them to remove the pulp, then spread the seeds out to dry for a week. Store them in a cool, dry place for up to four years.

FAST FACTS

Common name: Sugar Baby watermelon

Latin name: Citrullus lanatus

Growth habit:  Vine

Life cycle:  Annual

USDA Zones:  3-11

Seeds per ounce:  Approximately 300



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