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Summertime is known for swimming pools, bbq’s, and mouth-watering slices of watermelon. Even though watermelon is largely available year-round at the local market, lugging that heavy ball of juicy goodness from the store to your kitchen counter can become tiresome, and quite pricey. However, many people are beginning to take a different approach by growing Watermelon in Aquaponics gardens to maintain their own supply of the fruit on hand.
In this article, you will learn how you can easily cultivate Watermelon in your Aquaponics system.
Why Grow Watermelon in Your Aquaponics Garden?
Citrullus lanatus, or as we typically call them Watermelon, is from the Cucurbitaceae family. This famous flowering-plant family includes other crops such as Cucumber, Squash, Melon, Chayote, Zucchini, Pumpkin, and Gourd. Originally from South Africa, the nutritious Watermelon consists of 90% water.
For centuries, watermelon has been seen as an essential fruit because of their water content. People have been known to take the fruit with them during long travels since the Watermelon can be their source of freshwater once they become thirsty. Others use the Watermelon rind as a means to combat heat stroke. Today leading producers of the green crop are China, Turkey, Iran, Brazil, and Uzbekistan.
Common Varieties of Watermelon
You will notice that various Watermelons differ in shapes, shades, and sizes. The reason behind this is because there are nearly 50 varieties of tasty Watermelon cultivated around the world. Take a look at the four common types of Watermelons and their varieties.
Picnic Watermelon was given their name for the fact that the size of the fruit can feed large groups of people, just like in a family gathering or a picnic. This is the type of Watermelon that you usually see in the local market. They typically weigh around 15 to 50 pounds, feature vibrant green rind, round-shaped or oval, and rich red flesh. Charleston Gray, Allsweet, Jubilee, and Black Diamond, to name a few, are a variety of this Watermelon.
In contrast to the Picnic, the Yellow-Orange Watermelon features an oblong or round shape. This type of Watermelon typically ranges from 10 to 30 pounds. Inside the fruit, you will discover their flesh featuring a yellow to orange shade. You can choose between seedless or with seeds. The seeded varieties are Yellow Baby, Desert King, and Yellow Doll. Honeyheart and Chiffon are seedless types of this Watermelon.
If you want a Watermelon that you can store in your fridge and easily serve a small group or enjoy by yourself, then consider the Icebox type. This kind of Watermelon usually weighs around 5 to 15 pounds, which you can readily store in your refrigerator. Tiger Baby and Sugar Baby are the varieties of this Watermelon you can grow in your system.
While we call this next type Seedless Watermelons, they are not actually seedless. In fact, they can carry small amounts of edible, small tender seeds. Seedless Watermelon was produced during the 1990s, and they can weigh around 10 to 20 pounds. Some of the Seedless Watermelons you can look for are Trio, Crimson, Millionaire, and Jack of Hearts.
Cooking with the Watermelon From Your Aquaponics Garden
Indeed, Watermelons are a commodity in preparing desserts. Besides Watermelon juice, you can likewise enjoy Watermelon flavored sorbet and shakes. Others love making the fruit into marmalade or jams. You can also savor the juicy fruit by mixing them in your fresh salad or fruit salads.
These are the regular culinary use of the fruit. Alternatively, others found another way to enjoy Watermelon. For example, in Oriental cuisines, it is customary to find a deep-fried version of the fruit where they eat them as a tasty snack. If you want to serve a refreshing appetizer, try adding Watermelon soup in your meals.
Health Benefits of Watermelon
Based on the USDA Food Central, a serving of 1 cup diced Watermelon (152 grams) will give you the following nutrients:
- Iron – 0.4 milligrams
- Potassium – 170 milligrams
- Magnesium – 15.2 milligrams
- Calcium – 10.6 milligrams
- Zinc – 0.15 milligrams
Moreover, the fruit is likewise rich in Carotenoids such as Beta-carotene, which is beneficial to your health. Carotenoids are plant substances that human bodies turn to Vitamin A.
Cultivating Watermelon in your Aquaponics Garden
The size of the Watermelon fruit may sometimes cause others to think that they are challenging to cultivate. On the contrary, these round green fruits are simple to nurture. Here are guidelines you can follow in growing Watermelon in Aquaponics gardens:
The Media Bed is the preferable method to use in growing Watermelons.
Growing mediums that efficiently retain water are perfect for planting Watermelons. Coconut coir or Peat Moss are some of your best options.
For optimal fruit growth, Watermelons prefer a pH range between 6.0 to 6.8.
Your Watermelon will need an essential amount of sunlight to thrive. The fruit requires at least 8 to 10 hours of daylight every day. In case this is not possible, you can invest in grow lights to provide the needed lighting.
Water and Air Temperature
Watermelons love the warm climate. They prefer water and air temperature at around 70°F.
Provide space between 6 to 12 feet apart when growing Watermelon in Aquaponics gardens. Doing this will ensure your plants will not compete for water and vital nutrients.
You can grow Watermelons from seeds. Although the size of the seeds is a little bit small, you can begin by using peat starters until you notice your plants start growing. Remember, Watermelons prefer warm temperatures of roughly 70°F. If you know nighttime temperatures in your area tend to drop below 60°F, consider covering your plants with row covers to retain heat.
Once the roots form, you can transfer them to your media bed with the growing medium of your choice. You will see flowers forming 4 to 8 weeks after seed germination or depending on the Watermelon variety you chose. When the vines start spreading, see to it you train them to climb your trellis or the support structure you placed in your system.
Watermelon vines produce both female and male flowers on a similar plant. The male flowers appear first; then the female flowers emerge after a few weeks. Take note that the females will remain on the vine and are the ones to generate fruits. Once female flowers bloom in full, you can harvest fruits after 35 days, or depending on the Watermelon variety you planted.
Carp is an ideal fish to raise when growing Watermelon in Aquaponics gardens. People often avoid this fish because they associate it with muddy taste. However, since you will be raising the Carp through your system, you will be turning out yields with a more acceptable taste. The fish also prefer a warm temperature of 73°F to 86°F, which is compatible with Watermelons.
Protect your Watermelons from pests such as Aphids and Cucumber beetles. Also, monitor for diseases like Powdery mildew, Gummy stem blight, and Bacterial fruit blotch.
Common problems growing Aquaponic Watermelon
Because of the Watermelon size, you will need considerable space to grow the fruit. Watermelons likewise grow vines; hence, they will require a sturdy support structure such as a fence or trellis.
Remember to store your Watermelons in a cool area. The fruits will rot if you store them in areas with temperatures below 50°F. As long as the Watermelons are in a cool spot, you can store them for around two weeks. In case you already sliced the fruit, see to it you securely wrap the Watermelon in plastic before placing them in the fridge. Make sure to consume the sliced fruit you put in the fridge in less than four days.