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Video: Agricultural Technology For Growing Watermelons Near St. Petersburg
Read the previous part. ← Proven varieties and hybrids of watermelons and melons
Agricultural technology of watermelons, varieties and seedlings
Before describing in detail our method of growing watermelons, I would like to dwell on the important points in their cultivation. When I start growing any crop, in the agricultural technology of which I still lack experience, I definitely remember my trip to the site of one amateur gardener.
It was a very long time ago, 18 years ago, but this event is very vividly engraved in memory. He grew raspberries and garden strawberries. It seems that everyone can do this: any gardener can handle it. But with him these crops were grown truly professionally, he studied their features to the smallest detail and received such stunning results that it involuntarily aroused respect and admiration.
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I have never seen such an approach to the cultivation of horticultural and horticultural crops in anyone else. But I myself, from his experience, learned three essential elements: careful preparation of the land for planting crops, proper watering and top dressing. And third: plant a small number of plants, but due to proper care for them, get a larger yield.
How to prepare a ridge for watermelons
Now about our experience. The ridge was carefully prepared for watermelons since autumn. Due to the fact that in the north-west we do not have enough heat for these plants and the land is slowly warming up for planting, the place was chosen the most illuminated by the sun, protected from the north and north-east winds. Since watermelons are a very demanding culture for soil fertility, soil structure and composition, they began to prepare a corresponding pillow in a box (6x1.5 m).
We chose all the earth to clay, covered the selected surface with chips with a layer of about 20 cm, put plant waste from the plot - 10 cm on the chips, then threw a small layer of earth, trampled it down, the next layer was hay, rammed with a layer of 5-7 cm, on top we pour fertile layer of the earth.
The watermelon pillow is ready, its thickness is about 50 cm. In the spring of March, the box was covered with a film before planting. The winter was very cold. In this regard, it was necessary to make adjustments to the formation of the ridge in the spring. As soon as the manure brought in in the winter thawed, I opened the center of the ridge and applied a strip of fresh manure to its full length on the bayonet of a shovel about 20x20 cm, covered it with hay and covered it with thrown earth from above, leveled the surface. A small tubercle remained along the entire length of the ridge, on which we planted seedlings in the future. After that, I again covered the entire ridge with foil.
The next element in the preparation of the ridge: before planting, weeding the weeds, mix them with the ground to a depth of 10 cm. Be very careful with fresh manure under watermelons, because they do not like its excess. But after planting the watermelon seedlings, the manure gave additional heat. This technique allowed the seedlings to take root painlessly. If the winter was not so harsh, then it would be possible to do without the introduction of fresh manure.
Remember that we do not have enough heat to grow watermelons, so all actions during their cultivation are aimed at keeping warm in the ridge. Watering and feeding are subject to this requirement.
This fall, for the forthcoming planting of watermelons in 2007, we made the soil cushion for this crop even more carefully and raised it 25 cm higher, taking into account the cold winter. By the way, it has long been noticed that the ridges prepared in the fall for planting complex crops are more effective. The top layer of the earth ripens in autumn and early spring. A very useful procedure for the soil is to water it with microbiological fertilizer Baikal EM1 in spring. It heals the soil well and has a positive effect on plant growth.
Growing seedlings of watermelons
Since watermelons are a very thermophilic culture, seedlings are indispensable in our zone. Last year, when growing it, we were guided by the dates indicated on the packages with seeds. This year, we began to think about sowing earlier, providing ourselves with more developed seedlings. Guided by the lunar calendar, the seeds were planted on April 5. Although everywhere in the recommendations for this crop it is said that young 20-30-day seedlings take root better, older seedlings can guarantee an early harvest and a larger number of watermelons.
This year we have tested four varieties of watermelons: Early ripening sugar, Crimson Wonder, Suga Baby, Lezheboka and two hybrids: Kai F1 and Susi F1.
The seedling soil was prepared from a mixture of flower soil (only the best quality was taken) and coconut substrate. It is important that it is nutritious and loose, into which air can freely penetrate. You can take other mixtures using peat and turf soil (3: 1) or rotted manure with turf soil (1: 2). In each pot (0.5 L), two seeds were sown at a depth of 3 cm.
All the cups were put in a box, covered with plastic wrap and kept by the battery until shoots emerged. All the sown watermelons decided to please us and together emerged in four days. As soon as the plants rose, we put the cups on the windowsill.
To avoid stretching the seedlings, the temperature was lowered to 18 ° C. The window in the room was always open, but we avoided drafts. Seedlings of watermelons were supplemented with a fluorescent lamp.
The seedlings grew very slowly, the first true leaf appeared only after a week, the next ones grew in 5-6 days. Formed, as it were, a "bush", the distance between the leaves is small, the stem itself grows very slowly. Watermelon seedlings, like a small child, need to be fed. If you do not do this, then there will be a shortage of harvest.
Seedlings were fertilized three times: once with Ideal fertilizer and twice with Kemira Lux. The first feeding was when the first true leaf appeared, the next one after 2 weeks. Watered only with warm water and carefully so as not to create excessive moisture to the plants, because seedling watermelons are very susceptible to blackleg disease. Before the very planting of watermelons in the ground, the main whip began to form on the bush, but the seedlings themselves were small in height - it can be seen that there was still not enough light on our windowsill. But she looked very strong, healthy, juicy.
Planting watermelon seedlings
Seedlings were planted on the ridge on May 21. She was 42 days old. When calculating the timing of planting seeds for seedlings, I recommend other gardeners to focus on their growing conditions, because on the southern window it can outgrow. Do not water the cups with young plants before planting, since a dry clod of earth with seedlings is easier to shake out of the container.
Prepare a chatterbox before this: add a little fermented manure, a little "Ideal" to warm water and, taking out a clod of earth with seedlings from a glass, moisten it in this chatterbox and carefully plant it, and then cover it with earth. We plant the seedlings in the ground, without deepening the hypocotal knee of the watermelon, so as not to cause decay. Water after planting the plant with this talker, mulch with dry soil. The planting hole should be well watered. Spill the ridge on the eve of planting with warm water with potassium permanganate.
After planting the seedlings over the ridge, they made a film shelter "house". The ridge is located from north to south. From the western side, the film web rolled down the entire length of 6 meters. On sunny days, they lifted the film and aired the ridge, thereby protecting the seedlings from overheating. The film remained over the ridge until the end of return frosts, approximately until mid-June. We planted 8 cups of seedlings along the length of the bed, but then with further care of the plants it turned out that the planting turned out to be thickened: 6 cups were enough for this ridge.
Features of agricultural technology of watermelons
We were fed with nitrogen fertilizers (fermented manure) once, when the plants began to grow in early June. By the middle of this month, the tops of the melons gained strength and already occupied the entire surface of the ridge.
On the western and eastern sides, along the entire length of the ridge, crossbeams were made of slats at a height of 0.5 m along the edges. This technique allowed us to raise the whips of watermelons by half a meter, and the whips, having passed this height, went down. As a result, the illumination of the plants increased, and the spread of the lashes to the adjacent beds was prevented.
I have used such a device before when growing cucumbers in open beds, and this year it helped me out a lot. Indeed, last year, the lashes of watermelons grew very much in the neighboring beds and paths, and because of this it was very difficult to water the melon. Nowadays the garden bed has proved to be very compact and convenient for watering.
In addition, this crossbar, as it were, gave a signal to the watermelon plants to tie in this place, the time has come. And almost all the fruit trees began to tie in the area of the crossbeams, we only had time to substitute birch stumps, since we have a lot of them on the site, and put planks under the small watermelons.
The picture was picturesque: a beautiful melon with carved leaves, and watermelons lay on the stumps. Every day there were more and more of them. The tops were not cut because there was not enough time, the summer was hot, and I had to water a lot. But the formation of tops is a very important technique, but it is also necessary to cut it, having a lot of experience, competently, based on the lunar cycle, the growth rate of the lashes.
Formation requires attention, skill, it greatly affects the yield. But if there is not enough experience and time, then you can harm the plant and not get a positive result. In this case, it is better to plant less often, i.e. fewer plants in the same area and let them grow freely.
But without forming the tops of watermelons, we also get a positive effect: frequent watering and the growth of a large amount of tops allows you to remove excess nitrogen from the ground through the tops, and the taste of the set watermelons will be better. This year, there would be no problems with the growth of tops on the melons if the moles had not been in charge of the plot and in the ridge, which damaged some plants with their dug tunnels.
They did not fight the moles, because they decided that since the mole had dug a tunnel along the contour of the ridge, it would already move along it, cleaning it up, and would not make other moves in the ridge. This is what actually happened, and in order to rid the site of the invasion of this animal, it was necessary in early spring to carry out comprehensive measures to expel moles from the garden plot.
Watermelon bushes damaged by moles recovered over time, new tops grew. Melons bloomed early, as the weather was warm and the soil warmed up well.
The ridge is high, the preparatory work on the filling of biofuel and its heating was done correctly. The delay was only with the pollination of plants, we could not wait for pollinators for a long time: bees, bumblebees … But already the first fruits began to set in the twenties of June, although the tops were formed, and flowering began much earlier.
At the beginning of July, the All-Russian Agricultural Census was held in our gardening area. On July 5, census takers came to our precinct. And when they saw (some for the first time in their lives) melons, little watermelons lying on stumps, they were all very surprised, this picture caused indescribable delight in them. After removing the film cover and installing the crossbar, the work of caring for the melons was reduced to two operations: transferring watermelon lashes over the crossbar and tying them to it, and the most important operation was watering the planting with warm water.
Watering and feeding watermelons
By watering, we build up the tops and root system. Last year we had two melons. Removing them in the fall after removing the fruits, we noticed that on that melon, where the root system was more powerful, and watermelons began to set earlier, and their number was greater. The root system of watermelons is powerful and is located mainly at a depth of 30 cm - apparently, in this arable layer, the roots have more warmth and nutrition. But this network of roots can be located deeper.
The depth of root penetration depends on the structure of the soil and the depth of heating. Why do I try to water regularly? If the watermelon does not have enough food for some period, it immediately stops its growth, and will never grow to a large size.
The weight of the fetus can only reach 2-3 kg, and sometimes only up to 1 kg. I watered only with warm water in the morning, and when it was very hot days, then twice: first until 10-11 am, and then again - until 5 pm. We had to water often this year, because it was hot, on a high ridge with loose soil, water did not linger, and there was also intense evaporation of moisture through the powerful tops of melon.
Watermelons from watering grew before our eyes. Be sure to add a weak ash solution to the water. With a cold north and northeast wind, watering was canceled: the ridge may get cold and the plants will get sick. During the season, 2-3 times it is necessary to water the watermelons with a superphosphate solution or lay it in the ridge in advance. On our site, we give a minimum of fertilizing to plants, the main emphasis on ensuring their nutrition is when preparing the ridges for planting, laying in them all the necessary supply of elements. In early August, the number of irrigations was sharply reduced, and after August 13, the first watermelon of the Suga Baby variety was removed, it was ripe.
I will tell you how we make irrigation with ash. It is necessary to fill a ten-liter bucket by 1/3 with ash, add boiling water to its full volume, stir, after an hour strain the resulting solution through an old piece of mesh, which was used to protect the window from mosquitoes. We filter the ash solution into a 25-liter saucepan. Pour the remaining slurry again with plain warm water, stir it, let it settle and filter it again through the mesh into the same pan.
In this way, I wash the ash three times. This makes a full 25 liter pan. The strained top dressing solution is enough to fill 2-3 barrels (with a capacity of 200 liters). This very weak ash solution can be watered on various crops throughout the summer.
When the fruits of the watermelon are just starting to set, I water it once with a more concentrated solution: all the strained liquid with the ash solution is poured into one barrel. When watering, this ash solution should be mixed only with very warm water, we heat it on the stove. I usually water it in the morning, so that after that the soul of the plant and the top layer of the earth dry out in order to avoid fungal diseases.
Watering with superphosphate. I made three waterings with this solution.
- 1st watering - after the plants have taken root and it was necessary to remove the film from the melon;
- 2nd watering - at the time of fruit setting;
- 3rd watering - at the moment of maximum fruit growth.
I noticed the benefits of this irrigation a long time ago, but only last year I learned from an agronomist who grows watermelons in a hot and very humid climate, its purpose. Phosphorus kills all fungal diseases and promotes healthy tops on melons.
This is how I prepare a watering solution: I pour one glass of double superphosphate into an ordinary old kettle, which we no longer use in household use. Why a kettle? We tried it in old pots, but the solution splashes in them with fast rotation. So we settled on a teapot. I add 0.5 liters of warm water to a glass of superphosphate and twist the kettle with this solution in a circle pretty quickly. Superphosphate is rubbed against the walls of the kettle, then I add water to the full volume of the kettle and carefully pour the contents into a barrel of irrigation water.
I again fill the solid residue in the kettle with water and repeat everything, only for 5-6 minutes, add water in the kettle to its full volume and pour the resulting solution into another barrel. I repeat this procedure one more time and refuel the third barrel. After the third stirring, nothing remains in the teapot, i.e. one glass of superphosphate can fill three barrels of irrigation water. Watering is the most essential element in growing any crop.
Growing watermelons in a greenhouse
They grew up in the greenhouse without any problems. The ridge is very narrow, 30 cm wide, located along a glass partition. In the spring, a thick layer of sawdust was laid in a narrow ridge, having previously selected all the earth from the ridge to clay. Then fresh manure was laid on the sawdust, the next layer was hay, and fertile soil was on the hay. The scourges rose to the height of the glass partition 1 m 80 cm and sank from the other side to the ground. This technique made it possible to achieve maximum illumination.
In the greenhouse, I tried to form the tops, remove excess shoots, especially after setting the fruits. I left 2-3 fruits on the plant so that the extra ovaries would not pull off nutrients. The watermelons in the greenhouse started at the same time as in the open field, the problem was the same - there was no one to pollinate the flowers of the watermelon. The only ovary that we have been waiting for for a very long time is an ovary on the Lezhebok variety. She appeared on it only after 25 pages. Of the six lashes left, three tied watermelons. The distance between plants in a greenhouse is 1 m and 1 m 20 cm.
On each plant, he left 5-6 lashes, which he threw over a glass partition. At the root collar, all shoots up to a height of 50 cm were gradually removed as the tops of the plant grew. There should be good ventilation around the root collar to avoid root rot. In the greenhouse, it is necessary to tie the main stem and 3-5 lower lateral shoots, and for the fruits it is necessary to make shelves, because large watermelons in the nets will not hold.
On a melon in a closed ground, I twice carried out foliar feeding with Uniflor micronutrient fertilizers. Outdoor harvest - 34 watermelons. Weight 9-9.5 kg had 7 pieces, weight 6-8 kg - 10 pieces, the rest were weighing from 3 to 5 kg. I think the main thing is that all the watermelons in the open field have ripened and were very tasty. We got large watermelons from the Crimson Wonder and Kai varieties, the smaller ones from the Suzi and Shuga Baby varieties.
Indoors, one plant of the Lezhebok variety - three large watermelons weighing 8.7 and 5 kg. I think this variety is the most suitable for greenhouse cultivation of all that we have planted this year. Two plants of the Early Ripe Sugar variety produced six small watermelons weighing from 1.5 to 2.5 kg. We didn't really like this variety, because the fruits were small, and in taste they were worse than the others. Only after two years of growing watermelons, we began to gradually accumulate experience in cultivating this crop. And we also realized that for all 20 years of growing various plants on the site, we did not have a more labor-intensive crop than watermelon.
How to determine the maturity of a watermelon
I am guided by the time, so that from the setting of the fruit to the removal there are at least 45 days for large fruits and 30 days for small and medium ones. If the stalk is drying out, I look: for what reason? If the whip is healthy, and the stalk dries up, then the watermelon is ripe. And if in some place the whip got sick with rot, then even with a dried stalk, the watermelon may not be fully ripe.
And there are almost no mistakes in this determination of the degree of ripening of watermelons. If the watermelon continues to grow rapidly in size, then it can be left on for longer, up to 56 days. This is the period for the ripening of pumpkin on the bush, it is established by long-term observations.
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