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Question about watermelons -- tons still on the vine!

This is my first year growing watermelons!

I planted two varieties, Moon & Stars and either Crimson Sweet or Sweet Baby (I would have to check the seed pack). I started them from seed, but it took about 10 days longer for me to get them transplanted once they were ready, so they have been running a bit behind. I think there are 2-3 M&S that survived the transplant and 2-3 of the other.

We are using a hugelkultur (mound garden) for the main area, where we have 3 purple tomatillos and 4 yellow pear tomato plants (two of the YP remaining), 1 very sad cantaloupe plant, basil, zucchini (which succumbed to the evil SVB and are all gone), plus the watermelon vines.

We got a ton of rain here in Kansas during the mid-summer, just a few weeks after I transplanted the melon seedlings. They grew slowly to begin with but the constant rain for weeks made them go a bit crazy as far as length and secondary vines. We lost several "baby" ones to rot (I am guessing because of all the rain).

We have harvested two nearly twenty pound M&S -- sooo good -- and two very small ones of the other variety, also very sweet but immature in color, I think.

Two of the second variety and one of the M&S have been growing, but very slowly, since the first fruit set, and are still on the vine. They have gained little in size in the last month, but are definitely not ripe and continue to make very small increases each week.

After harvesting the ripe ones, we didn't have any more fruit set for about a month or so (it was hot and dry). Then, late-September after a good weekend of rain, about four new ones started to grow. And then six more. Now we have about 10-12 watermelons in various sizes from golf ball to tennis ball to cantaloupe-sized, plus the original three which seem to be nearing ripeness -- and the frost date is near!

One that popped up last weekend went from ping-pong size to cantaloupe size in about 6 days -- it is huge already for the amount of time it has grown -- and another had grown nearly that large in about 4 days. Some are smaller, but almost all are doubling in size each day.

My question is this: what can I do (organically) to help these little melons grow faster and ripen quickly? Should I pick off any of the smallest fruit (the golf ball ones) and leave those that seem to be really growing? Should I quit watering? Water more? Fertilize? Eek -- I just don't know!

We may be getting freezing temps at night sometime in the next two weeks here and I don't want them to die yet!

Also, will a blanket or sheet help at all when the temps get so low? Thanks so much for the help.

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Re: Question about watermelons -- tons still on the vine!

So how are the melons doing by now?

Not much way you can really make them grow/ ripen faster. But yes, I would take all the little ones, that clearly won't have time to ripen, off the vine to let it focus on the ones that are big enough to have a chance.

If you haven't already, mulching well may help hold some heat in the soil. Keep watering well until they are pretty close to ripe. Just at the end, it may help preserve sweetness to let it be drier for awhile.

Covering your plants over night will help when the nights are getting cold, but you need to be sure to remove the cover in the AM.
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Re: Question about watermelons -- tons still on the vine!

Thanks for the tips. The bed is mulched pretty well with hay/straw and it stays very moist so I don't have to water it often at all now that it isn't hot in during the day. It has been getting down in the 40s at night right now. One of the long-growing M&S stars sounded ready, so I picked it this morning. We'll see how sweet it is tonight -- my 4-year-old son was very excited (he loves watermelon).

The one that had been doubling in size since it started about two week ago looks about 12-15 pounds now and sounds about ready, but it just rained this weekend so I am going to let it stay on a few more days. I will go ahead and pluck off the smallest ones this afternoon. I picked one that had blossom-end rot starting, and, even though it was small, it was very sweet and ripe; it had only been growing about three weeks, but it was about the size of a long football.

It looks like we should have about three more ripe by the weekend, with no freezing night temps predicted yet for the next week. Will the 40s hurt sugar production?

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