While most of us will not produce mammoth watermelons weighing 300 or even 100 pounds, knowing when to plant watermelon in Tennessee should help us yield a good amount of this sweet, tasty treat right at home.
All we have to do is plant watermelons around May 1 to June 30 in the spring. Tennessee climate is temperate, with a moderately long growing season of 180 to 220 days. By following the mentioned gardening schedule, watermelons will become available in late summer and fall throughout the state.
Read on for more tips on cultivating this plant.
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Best Time to Plant Watermelon in Tennessee
The planting season for watermelon is spring.
- For both seeds and transplants, grow them outside when the weather is warm and the soil measures at least 65℉, or 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal growth.
Put seeds and transplants into the soil after the final frost, or one to two weeks following said date if you want to be cautious.
- Alternatively, grow watermelon from seed indoors earlier, though it’s important to note that watermelons in pots are sensitive to disturbance, and biodegradable containers are necessary to minimize shock while transplanting.
In this case, start seeds indoors three weeks before the final frost and relocate young seedlings outside following the schedule recommended above.
Tennessee falls under hardiness zones 5 to 8, so you should be able to sow watermelons in May for zones 5 and 6 and mid-April for hotter regions like zone 7 and higher.
When is It Too Late to Grow Watermelons?
Watermelons take about three months to mature from seeds and 75 days to mature from transplants, so they should have at least this long to develop before the first frost.
Considering that Tennessee’s first frost falls within October or November, July or August will be the last month of the watermelon season.
Tennessee Watermelon Planting Tips
1. Watermelon varieties for Tennessee
One of the most important growing tips is to select plant varieties according to your climate. For Tennessee, the following watermelons are worth a try:
- Baby Doll—Vibrant yellow flesh with sweet flavors; excellent for small spaces.
- Mambo—An All-American selection that grows even in cloudy conditions and produces fruits weighing up to eleven pounds.
- Sweetie Pie—Has a classic watermelon appearance with red flesh and green rinds; the large fruits weigh up to thirteen pounds.
2. Planting depth and spacing
Plant watermelon seeds ½ inch deep in both containers and in the ground.
Put two seedlings in every five-foot-wide hill, or, if sowing seeds, put four seeds in each mound and thin them down later so that the plants are two feet apart.
Homeowners with little space can try growing watermelon vertically by creating overhead wires 6.5 feet above the ground or trellises with wooden frames and tying the watermelon vines to them.
The watermelons should also have slings as support while they balloon in size. Simply use some old square fabric and fold its sides together to hold the fruits in the middle.
I prefer trellises that are 4 feet wide and 7 feet tall, but you can reduce the height to five feet for smaller varieties.
How to Care for Watermelons?
Give them full sun, loamy, well-drained soil with a pH of 6 to 7.5, and one to two inches of water per week. Add compost to the ground before planting, and mulch the watermelons with straw to keep them warm.
When to plant watermelon in Tennessee is a simple matter. Grow them in the spring when the weather is warm, and fertilize the soil with a 33-0-0 formula before sowing.
With proper spacing, your watermelons will have space to spread and not have to compete with other crops for nutrients. Happy planting!
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