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GreenThumbGal_07 June 10, 2020 10:13 PM

Container watermelons!
I decided to grow watermelons this year (Sunset Zone 17 -- good luck with that) but think that in the relatively sunny East SF Bay Area I might have a bit of luck with a variety that doesn't take several months to mature.

The Sugar Baby seeds from 2003 didn't germinate outdoors. I tried starting them indoors in Dixie cups (no luck, is the freshness limit 4 years?) and no luck with the Burpee "packed for 2020" Bush Sugar Baby watermelons either.

In a fit of despair, I bought some nursery watermelon starts (Sangria) that looked pretty sickly and poor. Those went into the 7-gallon Gro-Bag pot, along with layered fresh potting soil (E.B. Stone's Edna's Best, Black Magic) and organic fertilizer. And... a few Jobe's Tomato Spikes for good measure.

The grocery store seed rack (Burpee) had the Bush Sugar Baby variety that didn't work. I bought Crimson Sweet from the same source ("packed for 2020") and planted all of the seeds I had (13 of Bush Sugar Baby, the full 62-seed packet of Crimson Sweet). I figured maybe I'd get a few plants if I was lucky.

Wouldn't you know it: in the warm sun, everything started sprouting. (A little Dixie cup on a cold windowsill is no match for good dirt in the sunshine.)

So now comes the hard decision. A 7-gallon pot should support maybe 2 watermelon vines, not three.

Which two of these three varieties would you choose?

(And if I'm having any luck at all this year with watermelons, I will try Sugar Baby next year!)



Shrinkrap June 11, 2020 12:21 AM

I vote for Bush Sugar baby×2. I'm about to try the same thing, but have Tiger Baby, Yellow Baby and New Orchid and Sunsrt 14, almost central Valley climate. .


GreenThumbGal_07 June 11, 2020 11:02 AM

Have you grown Bush Sugar Baby before? How productive is it? Thanks.

Shrinkrap June 15, 2020 02:39 AM

I have grown ice box watermelons once or twice before, but other than Tiger Baby, Yellow Baby and New Orchid, dont recall the names. None did that well, but I'm trying again.

GreenThumbGal_07 June 15, 2020 04:27 AM

I hadn't had much luck with them before either, but a few years ago saw a school garden a few blocks away that apparently had some good ones going in raised beds. They were medium sized and striped, so might have been Crimson Sweet or something like that. This inspired me to try this year.

Also, I read some seed review for Blacktail Mountain, the reviewer said it did well in West Berkeley, which is right opposite the Golden Gate and gets a good blast of that cool sea air in its face. If West Berkeley can grow a watermelon, then so can other Bay Area neighborhoods.

Shrinkrap June 16, 2020 01:43 AM

Good luck! While I am technically Bay Area, my climate is more central valley . We usually get plenty of blistering dry heat, and keeping up with watering is the problem.

Jeannine Anne June 16, 2020 03:10 AM

Blacktail ais a good choice for cooller gardens, I can grow it here in the PNW Canada

biscuitridge June 19, 2020 01:51 AM

Crimson sweet is awesome, I'm growing them every year, last year our largest was 39 lbs and it was so sweet.

GreenThumbGal_07 July 7, 2020 04:44 AM

Jeannine Anne: Thanks for the suggestions for Blacktail Mountain (I may try it next year).
Biscuitridge: The Crimson Sweet is coming along fast! Glad I kept it, I will keep an eye on it.
Sangria Hybrid is almost ready with its first male blossom. I spied a tiny female flower with its striped bulb, ready to be turned into a melon soon!

Shrinkrap August 8, 2020 03:47 AM

4 Attachment(s)
Here's my most recent pictures.

ddsack August 8, 2020 11:47 AM

Shrinkrap, I am tickled to see you are using some of the same support methods I am. I have had terrible problems with voles spoiling even very small immature melons, both watermelons and muskmelon. Next year I will spend more time training vines up a trellis, so fruit are farther from their reach. I have three melons on an existing support, and found that an old pair of underwear with one leg opening cut open to make straps makes a roomy sling! :lol:
I am growing Blacktail Mountain, Crimson Sweet, and a small Russian melon, the name escapes me at the moment. Also growing Halona muskmelon. The melons growing on the ground are raised up on styrofoam plates set on top of used coffee cans. I suppose the voles can still run up other vines to get to them, but I figure at least getting them up out of their pathways might help some. We had a big rain storm last night, so I have not yet been out to see if any got knocked off the plates which had holes poked in for drainage.

Shrinkrap August 8, 2020 01:07 PM

@ddsack, how ingenious! I'm trellising for space, but protection from varmints could be an added benefit. Folks preparing for rain always makes me think "Oh yeah!", since it never rains here during the summer.

GreenThumbGal_07 August 8, 2020 04:09 PM

ddsack and Shrinkrap, I am training all of my melons (Ha'Ogen, Madhu Ras) and watermelons (Sangria Hybrid, Crimson Sweet, Bush Sugar Baby) on or towards a nylon trellis I have up against the back wall. Part of the reason is more sunshine (plenty of good afternoon and early evening sun), also to keep the rambling vines off the ground (had NO idea watermelon grows 20 feet in every direction!), to keep the flowers within view of the honeybees and other pollinating insects, and finally to keep the fruit off the ground. I'll worry about support for the watermelon fruit when the time comes. But having the trellis up against the back wall helps cover all that ugly cinderblock.

Trellis is here: [url][/url]

Shrinkrap August 8, 2020 06:04 PM

I'm not familiar with some of those varieties, and pruning may not be appropriate, but I've been reading about pruning watermelon vines and fruit, and watching some pruning videos. I've done a little bit, aiming for two fruit per vine.

Anybody else pruning?

GreenThumbGal_07 August 9, 2020 06:04 PM

[QUOTE=Shrinkrap;758964]I'm not familiar with some of those varieties, and pruning may not be appropriate, but I've been reading about pruning watermelon vnes and fruit, and watching some pruning videos. I've done a little bit, aiming for two fruit per vine.

Anybody else pruning?[/QUOTE]

No, not yet. I might prune off a fruit, though. I have one (hand pollinated) Sangria fruit that is misshapen and shrunken on one side. Size of a large grapefruit now. Should I just snip it off and let the vine redirect its energy towards any better-pollinated/more symmetrical fruit?

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