In this recurring column, our panel of watermelon experts answer a question posed through our “Ask the Experts” feature in the right hand sidebar. Feel free to ask your own question. All questions get a response and some will be featured here on What About Watermelon.
MALICK FROM TRIPOLI (ALL THE WAY FROM LIBYA!) ASKS: Is it possible to use one black seed from inside a store-bought watermelon to grow your own? If so, what are the instructions to grow my own tasty treat?
Good question, Malick. The short answer is: sort of.
The only problem with growing watermelons using the seeds of a watermelon you bought in a grocery store is that the watermelon you purchased is more than likely a hybrid variety, which is a special cross between two types of watermelon, each contributing their best qualities to create one great-tasting fruit.
You can plant those seeds, and they may grow into a watermelon (though not always), but the result won’t be the same type of watermelon you purchased and enjoyed months ago. It’ll be a smaller, less tasty watermelon – the kind a lot of farmers call “pig melons” because they’re only good for feeding to the pigs.
I’d recommend purchasing watermelon seeds from your local nursery or gardening store. If possible, buy the open pollinated heirloom variety, which will yield fruit with seeds that you can plant the next year.
If you’re up for a challenge, or just curious, and decide to use seeds from a store-bought watermelon (or are using seeds from an open pollinated heirloom watermelon), you’ll need to dry the seeds before you plant them. Oh, and make sure the watermelon hasn’t been chilled, because the cold temperature will damage the seeds. To dry your seeds, place them on a towel or some newspaper in a sunny spot (a window sill will do) for about a week. Once they’re dry, you can plant them!
Of course, actually growing a watermelon is a whole other question and process in itself. It requires a lot of attention, water and sunlight, but the reward for all your hard work is definitely worth it. Do some research online for tips on growing your own watermelon. To get you started, this website has a brief overview of the process. Good luck, and let me know how it turns out!
UPDATE: Malick e-mailed me back about two weeks later with the following exciting news and photo below:
I just thought I would inform you that the seeds I planted HAVE grown in to baby watermelon plants but it hasn’t been quite long enough for them to grow watermelons yet. Thanks a lot for all the information you gave me!