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Author Topic: Need help with watermelon plants  (Read 630 times)

SandyL

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Need help with watermelon plants
« on: July 20, 2017, 11:06:44 PM »
I have watermelon plants planted in 2 locations. One gets afternoon sun and the other gets morning sun till sunset. The one that gets sun all day have small small and pale green leaves. The one that gets afternoon sun has more lush growth, leaves are bigger and a lush green color. They both get the same amount of water and fertilizer. The only difference is the amount of sun they get. It seems like the one that gets only afternoon sun is growing better than the one that gets sun all day. Does anyone know why there's a difference in the size of the leaves? Thanks!




LivingParadise

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Re: Need help with watermelon plants
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2017, 07:31:14 PM »
If they get the same amount of water and the soil is the same in both locations, the one in full sun probably is drier due to more evaporation/heat. It's also possible that one has more open wind, and if so that would further contribute to drying.

In my experience of growing watermelons, they didn't need full sun all day to fruit. Mine were happy enough growing in containers, even indoors (it was an experiment), with maybe 4 hours of intense direct sun a day, and lots of bright light the rest of the day. They need a lot of water. I ultimately realized they were not practical for my area, which gets too hot, and is the driest county in FL. Since you live in CA, you might find that heavy mulching and growing in partial shade will give the results you want, without the extra water needed by growing in full sun.

It's just a guess - maybe there's another cause. But it's a guess that makes perfect sense to me as a possibility. They don't have enough time to grow deep roots like trees do to keep their water intake more even.

SandyL

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Re: Need help with watermelon plants
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2017, 02:58:28 PM »
If they get the same amount of water and the soil is the same in both locations, the one in full sun probably is drier due to more evaporation/heat. It's also possible that one has more open wind, and if so that would further contribute to drying.

In my experience of growing watermelons, they didn't need full sun all day to fruit. Mine were happy enough growing in containers, even indoors (it was an experiment), with maybe 4 hours of intense direct sun a day, and lots of bright light the rest of the day. They need a lot of water. I ultimately realized they were not practical for my area, which gets too hot, and is the driest county in FL. Since you live in CA, you might find that heavy mulching and growing in partial shade will give the results you want, without the extra water needed by growing in full sun.

It's just a guess - maybe there's another cause. But it's a guess that makes perfect sense to me as a possibility. They don't have enough time to grow deep roots like trees do to keep their water intake more even.


Thank you so much!!! You might just be right. What you say does make sense! Package says plant in full sun but I guess it's not always true. I'm going to try and plant all the plants in partial shade next year and see what results I get. Thanks!

spaugh

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Re: Need help with watermelon plants
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2017, 09:38:03 PM »
Leaves in part shade tend to get larger than non shaded ones too.  Even on the same plant.  The lower leaves on many of my trees are MUCH larger than the ones in full sun at the top of the tree. 

SandyL

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Re: Need help with watermelon plants
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2017, 11:29:08 PM »
LivingParadise..., one more question. You said you tried growing in containers. I'm wondering how did it go? I'm running out of space but would still love to grow watermelons every year so I'm thinking if growing in containers would work? Probably like a 15 gallon container. Thanks!

SandyL

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Re: Need help with watermelon plants
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2017, 11:30:22 PM »
Leaves in part shade tend to get larger than non shaded ones too.  Even on the same plant.  The lower leaves on many of my trees are MUCH larger than the ones in full sun at the top of the tree.


I've noticed that on my kumquat tree too a few days ago. The bottom leaves are huge compared to the ones that are exposed to the sun more often. Thanks for the info!

LivingParadise

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Re: Need help with watermelon plants
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2017, 12:27:24 PM »
LivingParadise..., one more question. You said you tried growing in containers. I'm wondering how did it go? I'm running out of space but would still love to grow watermelons every year so I'm thinking if growing in containers would work? Probably like a 15 gallon container. Thanks!


Keep in mind, sometimes plants put too much energy into leaves to the detriment of fruit. But since you posted this in the vegetable section and not the fruit forum, I thought that meant you were planning to eat the leaves. Mind you, I have not found reliable sources that definitively state whether watermelon leaves are edible, or that they are poisonous, so try at your own risk (and if you do, please report back!). So whether you want bigger leaves or not might be subject to some debate, if it results in smaller fruit. Again, if the issue is water, more water might simply be the solution - not less sun. But that is not good if a region is drought-prone.

Container growing watermelons is from my experience doable but I guess a bit unusual - all the more so my decision to do so indoors since I got very strong tropical sun in my windows to do so, but could lower the humidity a bit by having them indoors. So it depends on what you're aiming for. The roots can get to about 2ft deep, but most of them are within the 1st foot of soil, so I don't think they really have to go that far down. Watermelons would prefer to spread wide than deep, a bit like strawberries. I did not try to grow them as a year-round crop, merely seasonal, so I wasn't looking for the plant to survive forever anyway. I put it in a shallow window box type plastic container. The fruit would grow on the vine, outside the box. A 15 gal container is only necessary if you really need the container to hold the watermelon itself, or want to try to provide for those few deeper roots. I have written a bunch on the fruit forum about my experiments in container growing, but it's worth noting here too that I like to grow in non-biodegradable styrofoam peanuts, with only 1/3 of the container actually being filled with (good organic) soil. For most plants, that is enough. They really like the air and drainage the styrofoam pieces provide, and it's a good way to recycle something that otherwise is destructive to the environment to grow plants. This cuts down on the need for expensive heavy soil or rocks, and makes the containers really easy to move around. If you grow one with a watermelon in it, the watermelon will weigh the container down against the wind if you grow it outdoors. Although I abandoned the watermelon project because of water consumption, which is expensive here, if I were to try it again in any serious manner I would grow in my 10 gal plastic grow bags, which are super cheap, and allow the roots to grow any which way they want.

Note that watermelon rind is fully edible, as are the seeds, for anyone looking to add to the food value of their crop. It's not easy to grow one's one food, so best not to waste any when it finally reaches maturity! :) Some people like to pickle the rind like a vegetable.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 12:32:23 PM by LivingParadise »

SandyL

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Re: Need help with watermelon plants
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2017, 04:21:50 PM »
LivingParadise..., one more question. You said you tried growing in containers. I'm wondering how did it go? I'm running out of space but would still love to grow watermelons every year so I'm thinking if growing in containers would work? Probably like a 15 gallon container. Thanks!


Keep in mind, sometimes plants put too much energy into leaves to the detriment of fruit. But since you posted this in the vegetable section and not the fruit forum, I thought that meant you were planning to eat the leaves. Mind you, I have not found reliable sources that definitively state whether watermelon leaves are edible, or that they are poisonous, so try at your own risk (and if you do, please report back!). So whether you want bigger leaves or not might be subject to some debate, if it results in smaller fruit. Again, if the issue is water, more water might simply be the solution - not less sun. But that is not good if a region is drought-prone.

Container growing watermelons is from my experience doable but I guess a bit unusual - all the more so my decision to do so indoors since I got very strong tropical sun in my windows to do so, but could lower the humidity a bit by having them indoors. So it depends on what you're aiming for. The roots can get to about 2ft deep, but most of them are within the 1st foot of soil, so I don't think they really have to go that far down. Watermelons would prefer to spread wide than deep, a bit like strawberries. I did not try to grow them as a year-round crop, merely seasonal, so I wasn't looking for the plant to survive forever anyway. I put it in a shallow window box type plastic container. The fruit would grow on the vine, outside the box. A 15 gal container is only necessary if you really need the container to hold the watermelon itself, or want to try to provide for those few deeper roots. I have written a bunch on the fruit forum about my experiments in container growing, but it's worth noting here too that I like to grow in non-biodegradable styrofoam peanuts, with only 1/3 of the container actually being filled with (good organic) soil. For most plants, that is enough. They really like the air and drainage the styrofoam pieces provide, and it's a good way to recycle something that otherwise is destructive to the environment to grow plants. This cuts down on the need for expensive heavy soil or rocks, and makes the containers really easy to move around. If you grow one with a watermelon in it, the watermelon will weigh the container down against the wind if you grow it outdoors. Although I abandoned the watermelon project because of water consumption, which is expensive here, if I were to try it again in any serious manner I would grow in my 10 gal plastic grow bags, which are super cheap, and allow the roots to grow any which way they want.

Note that watermelon rind is fully edible, as are the seeds, for anyone looking to add to the food value of their crop. It's not easy to grow one's one food, so best not to waste any when it finally reaches maturity! :) Some people like to pickle the rind like a vegetable.


Oh thank you! I'm kinda new here so I haven't figured my way around the forum and I had no idea I posted on the veg forum. Thank for the heads up. I wasn't planning on eating the leaves, I too don't know if they are edible. I was thinking if the size of the leaves determines the size of fruit you get. I was worried that the smaller leafed watermelon plants would produce smaller fruits. I did have one fruit form on the plant with the smaller leaves but it stopped growing when it reached the size of a softball. I had this happen with my watermelon plants in my previous year but I was still able to harvest some food size fruits. Just hope that this one is just a one time incident.
Smaller containers do sound better. Having to use less soil will save me some money too. Again, thanks for all the help! ☺️

« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 04:28:00 PM by SandyL »

LivingParadise

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Re: Need help with watermelon plants
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2017, 08:56:45 AM »
Sure, and welcome!

In my experience, small fruit like that is a lack of water issue, but that could of course depend on a lot of variables so I couldn't say for sure in your case. Healthy leaves improve fruit, but only up to a point. Sometimes when a plant gets a lot of the nutrients it needs to grow leaves, like when people fertilize with nitrogen or the soil is naturally really rich in certain minerals but not others, the plant might focus all its energy on leaf production and make less, or smaller, fruit. Overall though, if the plant is healthy and getting its basic needs met and you're not adding anything supplementary, I wouldn't worry about that. The main issue is to be sure it gets enough sun to flower, that's it. After that it's often an issue of finding the sweet spot between too little water and too much, and being sure there is good drainage for the roots. For me, especially because I live in an area of terrible almost non-existent soil (and frequent saltwater flooding), container growing can make all that easier.

SandyL

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Re: Need help with watermelon plants
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2017, 08:20:58 PM »
Sure, and welcome!

In my experience, small fruit like that is a lack of water issue, but that could of course depend on a lot of variables so I couldn't say for sure in your case. Healthy leaves improve fruit, but only up to a point. Sometimes when a plant gets a lot of the nutrients it needs to grow leaves, like when people fertilize with nitrogen or the soil is naturally really rich in certain minerals but not others, the plant might focus all its energy on leaf production and make less, or smaller, fruit. Overall though, if the plant is healthy and getting its basic needs met and you're not adding anything supplementary, I wouldn't worry about that. The main issue is to be sure it gets enough sun to flower, that's it. After that it's often an issue of finding the sweet spot between too little water and too much, and being sure there is good drainage for the roots. For me, especially because I live in an area of terrible almost non-existent soil (and frequent saltwater flooding), container growing can make all that easier.

Thank you so much. You really helped clarify a lot of things! Thanks! ☺️

Future

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Re: Need help with watermelon plants
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2017, 08:10:25 PM »
Quiet as it is kept, most annuals perform better in dappled sunlight (not shade) vs. full sun.  They were designed to grow as understory plants.  Hydroponics has detailed the photosaturation points of many plants and they vary and many are well below full sun light levels.  Photosaturation is when a plant stops photosynthesis due to too much light. 

Often people think plants wilt due to lacking water.  Often this isn't true.  It is photosaturation.  I have a pumpkin vine in part shade, part fun sun and at midday the shaded leaves are taut, the full sun ones wilted.  Water supply must be the same on a single vine.

Most annuals grown in full sun do not grow between 10am and 4pm because of this.  Permaculture design such as stacking, is one way to address this issue. 

Watermelon is at the range's high, growing well between 800-1500 micromoles and thus least susceptible to this issue.  But they will stop growing over 1500.  Full sun is 2000 micromoles.  Of course cloudy days drop light substantially and leaves below other leaves are partly shaded.

Your observation supports photosynthesis science.  Very few are aware of this.

If you think your 2 plants are an issue, consider an entire continent's mass farming designed this way.  Labour efficient (enables mechanical watering, spraying, picking etc.), natural resource inefficient. 

By the way, others observed annuals as among the least efficient and least ecosystem mature stage.  Mass farming annuals in isolation is ironically effort that keeps production low.  A tree will out produce an annual big time.  Annuals around the tree is even better...

SandyL

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Re: Need help with watermelon plants
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2017, 12:57:15 AM »
Quiet as it is kept, most annuals perform better in dappled sunlight (not shade) vs. full sun.  They were designed to grow as understory plants.  Hydroponics has detailed the photosaturation points of many plants and they vary and many are well below full sun light levels.  Photosaturation is when a plant stops photosynthesis due to too much light. 

Often people think plants wilt due to lacking water.  Often this isn't true.  It is photosaturation.  I have a pumpkin vine in part shade, part fun sun and at midday the shaded leaves are taut, the full sun ones wilted.  Water supply must be the same on a single vine.

Most annuals grown in full sun do not grow between 10am and 4pm because of this.  Permaculture design such as stacking, is one way to address this issue. 

Watermelon is at the range's high, growing well between 800-1500 micromoles and thus least susceptible to this issue.  But they will stop growing over 1500.  Full sun is 2000 micromoles.  Of course cloudy days drop light substantially and leaves below other leaves are partly shaded.

Your observation supports photosynthesis science.  Very few are aware of this.

If you think your 2 plants are an issue, consider an entire continent's mass farming designed this way.  Labour efficient (enables mechanical watering, spraying, picking etc.), natural resource inefficient. 

By the way, others observed annuals as among the least efficient and least ecosystem mature stage.  Mass farming annuals in isolation is ironically effort that keeps production low.  A tree will out produce an annual big time.  Annuals around the tree is even better...

Woah.., I had no idea either. Some of the leaves on my partly shades watermelon plant has now spread to areas where they get full sun. And thus the leaves have now gotten smaller too. What you say do make sense. Now I just have to experiment growing in different areas in my garden. Thanks again!

 

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