Saturday, January 28, 2012

Should Watermelons Be Planted in the Same Place in the Garden Next Year?


Can watermelons be planted in the same place the next year? The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service recommends that watermelons, and other vine plants, not be planted where other vine plants have existed in the past three years to minimize pests and disease. Heeding this advice will yield healthier plants and more watermelon fruit for your labor.


Soil Health When Growing Watermelons

All crops, including watermelons, use nitrogen and other nutrients from the soil as they grow. For this reason, it is a good idea not to plant watermelons in the same place year after year. The soil needs time to replenish itself.
Natural and organic sources of nitrogen, which feed the soil, are composted fruit and vegetable scraps, chicken manure, coffee grounds, fish scraps, or grass clippings. These materials add to the soil fertility and it is a good idea to fertilize with them before growing watermelons in any location. Watermelon plants grown in fertile soil are healthier and produce more fruit.

Watermelon vines are typically grown on a hill to improve the drainage of the soil. Well-drained soil is a must for healthy melon plants. A second application of organic fertilizer placed along the row after the vines are a foot long also benefits the production and growth of melon plants.


Pests and Disease

Beetles commonly feed on young watermelon plants and inject a bacteria that causes the watermelon plant to wilt and eventually die. Without the use of pesticides these beetles often proliferate and quickly kill melon plants each growing season. An alternative to using pesticides would be to move the watermelon to a new garden location and discourage the pests from taking over the growing location.

Aphids are another common garden pest for vine-growing crops like watermelon. They feed on the plants by sucking juices and causing a twisted, distorted growth to the vines. Moving the location of the watermelon bed to a place where vegetation loved by aphids wasn't growing the previous year will help reduce the risk of this pest.

When the soil is warm and damp, watermelon and other vine crops are prone to "foliar leaf blight diseases," which is a fungus. The most common species are anthracnose and alternaria. They cause the watermelon plant to have a black spotted appearance. These spots will occur most often on older leaves near the base of the plants. As with pests, risk of diseases can be reduced by rotating the watermelon crop to a new location each year. Using quality seed is also a good preventative for most pests and diseases.

Technically, watermelons can be planted in the same place each year, but it is not recommended for the overall production and health of the plant. Moving watermelons to a new location where they have not grown in the past three years will prevent many pests and diseases from killing your plants and wasting your gardening efforts.



Marr, Charles. Cucumbers and Melons. KSU Horticultural Report. MF-668. Kansas State University Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service. November, 1994.
Roberts, Warren and Jim Motes. Watermelon Production. HLA-6236. Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service.

Watermelon photo by Guilherme Tavares

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