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stella1751
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Carolina Cross Watermelon

I want to try this next year. I want to try it in a raised bed that is only 42 square feet and 20" tall. The same bed grew 13 pumpkins off three plants this year; it wanted to grow 21 but started aborting them when the endeavor proved too much for it.

I've been studying the [url=https://www.marthastewart.com/plant/citrullus-lanatus-carolina-cross-no-183]Carolina Cross[/url] watermelon, and I think I can do this if I train and prune the vines; if I start the seeds indoors, probably in April; if I warm the soil with black plastic mulch; if I seriously compost the soil this fall, once the pumpkins are out of there; and if the weather cooperates. (Odds are against us having another miserable June, right?)

Has anyone grown this watermelon before? I'm not looking for a hundred-pounder, but a forty- or fifty-pounder would be nice :) Given the above conditions, is this do-able? I'm not talking probable--I know it's a gamble--just possible.

Tips would be appreciated, too!
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engineeredgarden
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stella - I've never grown it, but it sure sounds like a good one. I have a tip for you....
Your bed is 42 square feet, right? Well, to get a 50 pounder, you'll need to let 1 plant (only plant 1) grow enough foliage to completely cover the bed - as well as let even more spill outside of it.
(For the record, 42 sq.ft. of foliage is capable of producing 42 lbs. of fruit)

EG

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applestar
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Wow, this sq. ft. <> Lbs. is a really interesting guide. Not trying to offend, but is this from experience? Research data? Does it apply only to watermelons or to other large (?) cucurbits as well?

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stella1751
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engineeredgarden wrote:stella - I've never grown it, but it sure sounds like a good one. I have a tip for you....
Your bed is 42 square feet, right? Well, to get a 50 pounder, you'll need to let 1 plant (only plant 1) grow enough foliage to completely cover the bed - as well as let even more spill outside of it.
(For the record, 42 sq.ft. of foliage is capable of producing 42 lbs. of fruit)

EG
That's interesting! I have another plan: I could trellis vines only, pinching off melons that try to grow on the trellis. Another idea: That bed abuts the lawn. Vines could run up the chain-link fence and then sideways along it on the lawn side. The way these vines fasten themselves, they could be trained to go back and forth along the fence forever. That would give me another 60 square feet.

Man, if it's all about leaf surface area, I could create all kinds of obstacles for them to climb and spread out on: the fence, a trellis or two, even poles, right? I'd have to stay more on the ball with them than I did with my pumpkins, which eventually overcame my best intentions. However, I am excited to think that it's at least possible!

Thanks!
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Well Stella, you won't be alone. I will be trying to grow Carolina Cross in Mid Michigan next year. Ever since I read the "my first big watermelon" thread here, I've been researching this plant. Have you seen some of the sites that sell seeds from HUGE melons? Some will say #168 for example and that's the weight of the melon the seeds come from. Some of these seeds are from a dollar a piece to over 3. I'm going to buy a few seeds from a HUGE melon and try it here. My plan is definitely starting inside as early as possible and starting a couple of plants every 2 weeks in 3 or 4 cycles. That way if they get too big before I can transplant outside I have younger ones to try. I'm all about trellis growing, but not these. I will grow on the ground leaving the first melon on each vine, plucking the rest. I will also try one plant that I only leave 1 melon on the entire plant. I'm not going to grow multiple plants together either.
EG, don't be offended as you have helped me a ton this year and I'm a fan of your youtube videos, which by the way haven't been popping up to much lately :lol: , but I haven't read anything anywhere about your theory of foliage/weight? Where can I read about this or is this just your theory? Please elaborate.
Stella, what are your plans? Maybe us non southerners should collaborate ideas so we can grow giants up here?

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BP, I'm out of my class when it comes to you and watermelons, so all the collaborating will have to be from you. I will appreciate any tips you care to share, though!

I told myself I didn't need a 100-pounder, but deep in my heart, I cry out for one. That would look so cool in this bed, which runs along the sidewalk. You've almost got me convinced. However, I'm not going to buy one of the big seeds; I really don't have that much space to even try.

How much space will you be allotting yours? You might enjoy reading this article on the [url=https://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010137veg.roots/010137ch31.html]root development of watermelons[/url]. I got it from another member, and it was the first thing I read when I began thinking Carolina Cross. In my favor is that the primary feeding appears to occur in the top 20" of the soil. Not so in my favor is that the lateral roots extend farther than the vines, so mine will be significantly curtailed in this relatively small bed.

Maybe, if I really enrich the soil, I'll grow two plants and let each have one watermelon. I could also grow one plant and let it have two watermelons. I'll think on it :shock:
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I'm not much ahead of you on watermelons by any means. I got one very nice almost 12 pound sugar baby. Would've had one more near that size, but that's the one I cut open way too early.
It's hard to answer the question you asked about space allotment for next year. See, I more than likely am not going to be living where I am currently next season. Not far from here so growing season will be exactly the same, but I need to move about 30-45 minutes north on I-75.
My girlfriend got her first teaching job at a High School this year and I'm trying to find a fulltime job further north so we can buy one of Michigan's famous dirt cheap foreclosed homes. :lol: Yeah, I think we have the highest unemployment, foreclosure rate, and worst home selling stats in the country currently. I could be wrong, but we are pretty bad as a state. (What did they think electing a Canadian democrat Governor? sorry for politics)
Anyway, I'm not giving up my current fulltime job because I need the medical benefits, so I'm trying hard to find one where we need to be to start the whole life together and family thing. If all works out I will get a job that I applied for in Saginaw Michigan in a sheet metal factory and we will have our dirt cheap almost feels like a steal Michigan special (house) lol in time to actually have a garden next year. If not, I will be living my new found passion of gardening through everyone here while in a tiny apartment.

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BP, in the offchance that you get stuck in an apartment, which will probably make you crazy, I thought I'd let you know that watermelons can also be grown in containers. Having become interested in growing this plant that you and I Northerners have no right to grow, not speaking with a twang and all, I've been studying all kinds of watermelons. Amazingly, I came across several websites that discussed how to grow a container watermelon.

So, if you get stuck in an apartment, try for one with a balcony or a patio. I think you want it to face the south, but I'm not certain.

BTW, next year is definitely going to be a watermelon year for me. I still have some Fordhook seeds left; they can be trellissed in one bed. I also found a packet of Crimson Sweet. I haven't studied those yet, but I bet they can be trellissed, too. I'm not going to limit myself to the Carolina Cross, which may or may not work, given its unsatisfactory home!
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The information comes from my personal experience - as well as the experience of a very big watermelon grower that passed down the info to me. It works, you should definitely try it.
I really didn't think much of the idea when it was presented to me, but became a believer when I produced that 19 lb. melon (a tad larger than a basketball) from a vine that was COVERED in foliage on one end of my raised bed a while back, while the same variety planted at the opposite end (23 feet away) didn't produce one larger than a softball. For the record, the same vine has produced another melon slightly larger than a volleyball, and it'll be pulled this week. I figure it weighs between 13-15 lbs.

EG

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I've never been able to grow a big watermelon...they only get up to softball size.

Next year, I think I'm going to give those plants a good head start in pots.

EG, your theory sounds interesting; if I get a melon next year, I'll be sure to contrast the weight to the surface area of the leaves and report my findings.
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there are a few types of giant watermelons, Carolina Cross just happens to be one that can grow to 200 lbs. there is also the Florida Giant (up to 45 lbs.), the Mountain Hoosier (up to 80 lbs.), and Cobb Gem (up to 130lbs) found these on Reimer Seeds website.

I would like to try and grow anyone of these, but I`ll stick with a few different smaller varieties for now. Especially since next year will be year 1 :)

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csvd87 wrote:there are a few types of giant watermelons, Carolina Cross just happens to be one that can grow to 200 lbs. there is also the Florida Giant (up to 45 lbs.), the Mountain Hoosier (up to 80 lbs.), and Cobb Gem (up to 130lbs) found these on Reimer Seeds website.

I would like to try and grow anyone of these, but I`ll stick with a few different smaller varieties for now. Especially since next year will be year 1 :)
I also heard the Black Diamond is a biggie.

I think that's smart to wait until you've experimented with watermelon before you try the big ones. I grew my first watermelon this year, well, the first where I actually asked questions and did research. (I grew them years ago. Pretty much plugged the seed in the soil and sat back. Naturally, I didn't enjoy great success :roll: ) Next year I am definitely going to try at least three different varieties.
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I pulled the 2nd melon from the vine yesterday, and it weighed 11.5 lbs. I have a couple of mountain hoosier seed left over from last year, and will have to try one plant next spring. I'll trellis it, whether it's 20lbs. or 80. :)

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engineeredgarden wrote:I have a couple of mountain hoosier seed left over from last year, and will have to try one plant next spring. I'll trellis it, whether it's 20lbs. or 80. :)
THAT I want to see, EG! BTW, I did sling one of my pumpkins from the fence, using nylons. Because it is sticking straight out (heavier stem?), I couldn't cross the nylons like you did in your video. However, as it gets bigger, I add another nylon after the first one. It'll be interesting to see what happens. If it works, and only if it works, I might try pumpkins again, this time on a trellis.

I've been thinking about your square-footage=pounds theory, and you might be on to something. My first pumpkin was a classic for this variety: roughly 9" long, 8" wide, and, though I didn't weigh it, I think 10 lbs would be about right, maybe more.

When the plant started to fail, aborting viable pumkins from 3" to 4" wide, because there were just too many pumpkins to support, I ripped out all of the vines that had exploded onto my lawn. I see now that the remaining pumpkins are all going to be smaller than the first, ranging from 8" long to 6" and already beginning to mature. Are the remaining pumpkins smaller because the plant is tapped, or are they smaller because I greatly decreased their leaf surface? I guess there's probably no way of telling, huh?

I am now letting new vines start again so I can increase my decent leaf surface, the first leaves now pretty much worn out from a hot summer. It'll be interesting to see what happens. Just thought I'd let you know that you have me thinking 8)
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Are the remaining pumpkins smaller because the plant is tapped, or are they smaller because I greatly decreased their leaf surface? I guess there's probably no way of telling, huh?
I think both are factors involved in the decrease of size. I trellised pumpkins last year with netting and rope, and it was easy to do with the trellis beams above.

EG

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engineeredgarden wrote:I trellised pumpkins last year with netting and rope, and it was easy to do with the trellis beams above.

EG
You didn't happen to make another video of that one, did you? If so, or if you have photos, I'd like to see it.
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No video, but I have a picture....

[img]https://i38.tinypic.com/s3pzfd.jpg[/img]

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engineeredgarden wrote:No video, but I have a picture....

[img]https://i38.tinypic.com/s3pzfd.jpg[/img]
What kind of a cross beam will I need? I suppose you expand the net as the plant grows, right?
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You have to consider though, that if those vines were touching the ground, they would set down roots from the nodes and bring up more nutes and water. Maybe training the vines up and down on the trellis would have added benefit.

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What kind of a cross beam will I need? I suppose you expand the net as the plant grows, right?
The trellis I grow pumpkins against has a top beam made from a 2x6, and has a span of about 8ft. long. It's capable of holding 200 lbs. with hardly any deflection, but I tend to build things stronger than they have to be. You have to know the width of the trellis before figuring out what to use.....
Yeah the netting can be tied from several locations so that the entire fruit is covered.


You have to consider though, that if those vines were touching the ground, they would set down roots from the nodes and bring up more nutes and water. Maybe training the vines up and down on the trellis would have added benefit.
That is very true. If I had the room, there's no way i'd trellis any cucurbit, but that's not the case.

EG

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I currently have 1 Carolina Cross that looks to be around 50 pounds. I'll *probably* be picking it soon, if the tendril would ever turn brown. The bottom looks yellow to me. It seems to have stopped growing.

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engineeredgarden wrote:
What kind of a cross beam will I need? I suppose you expand the net as the plant grows, right?
The trellis I grow pumpkins against has a top beam made from a 2x6, and has a span of about 8ft. long. It's capable of holding 200 lbs. with hardly any deflection, but I tend to build things stronger than they have to be. You have to know the width of the trellis before figuring out what to use.....
Yeah the netting can be tied from several locations so that the entire fruit is covered.


You have to consider though, that if those vines were touching the ground, they would set down roots from the nodes and bring up more nutes and water. Maybe training the vines up and down on the trellis would have added benefit.
That is very true. If I had the room, there's no way i'd trellis any cucurbit, but that's not the case.

EG
I've wondered about this, that is, if cucurbits grow better sprawling on the ground or up on a trellis. You appear to conclude the the ground plants would do better due to the extra nutrients. Would ground plants also out-produce trellis plants?
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franktank232 wrote:I currently have 1 Carolina Cross that looks to be around 50 pounds. I'll *probably* be picking it soon, if the tendril would ever turn brown. The bottom looks yellow to me. It seems to have stopped growing.
Franktank, please weigh it when you pick it; I'm interested. I'm also interested in learning how you grew it: space, soil amendments, etc.

There's an old thread at [url]https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=27681&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=60[/url] that talks about when to know when the watermelon is ripe. Scroll down a ways on the lin, to where MaryDel says, "The brown tendril tells you that you are close, Look for small brown spots on the stem of the watermelon close to where it attaches to the main vine. I am 100% on this method, and none of my fruits have been over ripe."
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garden5 - each way has its own pros/cons. Sprawling plants will produce more, but growing on a trellis reduces diseases by increasing airflow, it's easier to control insects, and several varmints are prohibited from doing damage to the fruit. (except for birds or squirrels). I trellis everything because of the topographical situation presented, and I can't garden in the native soil. Plus, it's pretty fun slinging a big ol' pumpkin about 4 feet off of the ground, too!

EG

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engineeredgarden wrote:garden5 - each way has its own pros/cons. Sprawling plants will produce more, but growing on a trellis reduces diseases by increasing airflow, it's easier to control insects, and several varmints are prohibited from doing damage to the fruit. (except for birds or squirrels). I trellis everything because of the topographical situation presented, and I can't garden in the native soil. Plus, it's pretty fun slinging a big ol' pumpkin about 4 feet off of the ground, too!

EG
:lol: Yeah, that would be pretty cool. I guess I should have figured that there would be the trade-off between methods. You'll probably have zero fruit- also, by keeping them up, off the ground.
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