Tendersweet Orange Watermelon
Seed Count: Approx. 15 seeds
Days to Maturity: 90 Days
Description: Tendersweet Orange Watermelon is a delectably sweet heirloom, with gorgeous, bright, orange flesh. These oblong fruits can definitely stand on their own against conventional red and pink fleshed varieties. They boast dark green skins with light green stripes, tough rinds, and produce a minimal amount of seeds making them super easy to eat and enjoy. The fruit can average between 10-30 lbs, with crisp, juicy, tender flesh that has great texture and flavor. Each plant can produce 5-7 smaller fruits, or 2-3 larger fruits each. Its skin isn't as thick as other varieties, so its storage life will be shorter. However, I doubt any will last long enough to rot.
How To Grow
Sowing: In cool climates, start watermelon seeds indoors, no sooner than a month before transplanting; plant 3 seeds 1/4" deep. Provide heat with a heat pad to keep the soil at least 80-85 degrees F. Thin all but the strongest seedling, as soon as true leaves appear, and transplant about a week after the last frost. In warm climates, direct sow watermelons, as soon as the soil temperatures reaches at least 75 degrees F. Give vines the space to sprawl out about 6-8 ft. in all directions, or grow up vertically to save space.
Growing: Watermelons should be planted in full sun in rich, loose soil. As soon as the vines begin to develop, apply a thick layer of mulch to control weeds, conserve moisture, and protect the melons from soil contact. Keep the soil moist, until fruit begin to grow, then water only if the soil dries out completely. Watch out for insects and other pests, which can become a huge a problem, and use organic insecticide soap when needed. Companion plants include corn, morning glories, okra, and sunflowers. However, keep watermelons away from potatoes.
Harvesting: Decrease watering your plants, when watermelons reach close to the approximate size that they’re supposed to be, in order to increase sweetness. Too much water can result in watery unsweet melons. There are many ways to test for ripeness. 1) Knock on the watermelon with your knuckles, listening for a dull thump rather than a hollow ring. 2) Check the underside of the melon, where it rests on the ground; the skin should be a rich yellow. 3) The curling tendril closest to the stem of the melon often indicates ripeness when it begins to turn brown. Watermelons usually keep for several weeks in a cool place after harvesting.