You know how parents always say that their kids grow up too fast? One day, they’re barely walking and, before you know it, they’re off to college. The same is true when it comes to growing giant watermelons. Only they don’t go to college — they go to the state fair and win blue ribbons.
When we last talked to Chris Kent — the man who holds the Guinness World Record for the largest watermelon (350 pounds in 2013) — his current crop hadn’t even sprouted gumball-sized fruit. One month later? Well, take a look below, and see for yourself.
HOW ARE THE WATERMELONS DOING? HOW BIG ARE THE MELONS RIGHT NOW?
The watermelons are doing well! In our last blog entry, we were setting fruit on the plants, now — 30 days later — we have melons that are about 120 pounds. Here’s a recent picture with a gallon-sized milk jug for reference.
HOW HAS THE WEATHER BEEN? IS IT A GOOD SEASON FOR WATERMELON GROWING?
We had one setback, with a week of cloudy, rainy weather that slowed the growth, but overall, the weather has been good, and the plants are growing well.
DO YOU HAVE TO WORRY YET ABOUT ANIMALS OR OTHER RISKS TO THE WATERMELON? IF SO, HOW ARE YOU PREVENTING IT?
Yes, I do. I’ve had problems in the past with rabbits and mice chewing on the plant vines. I once lost a vine with a melon on it due to a rabbit chewing it in half once it was too late to start over. A fellow grower told me to get some coyote urine from a hunting supply store to chase the rabbits away. Believe it or not, it works!
The mice don’t care about the coyote urine, though, so you have to catch them, and that takes time. It’s an all-season process. Luckily, this year has been good. I’ve only seen a few rabbits, and no damage.
WHAT SPECIFIC TACTICS DO YOU USE TO KEEP ANIMALS AWAY FROM THE PLANTS?
I have a fence around my entire patch to keep the big animals away. There are horses on one side that put their head over and eat my grass. They don’t eat melon vines, but they will eat watermelons, so I have to keep the melons out of their range. The old saying “the grass is greener on the other side” is true with me, since my grass gets the water runoff from my melons and is bigger and greener!
WHAT’S NEXT? WHAT WILL HAPPEN BETWEEN NOW AND OUR NEXT UPDATE IN MID-AUGUST?
Over the next month, I’ll be settling into a maintenance role, keeping the plants happy and healthy. I have to spray each week for bugs and disease, and feed the plants. And, if it doesn’t rain, I keep them watered. I basically look for and prevent problems.
We still have two months of growth to get to the end, and if you lose one before it’s done growing, you won’t get a chance to have that winning melon. I have to cross the finish line to win, but, so far, things are looking good!
UP NEXT: A recipe that makes breakfast fun again
Remember: All comments left on the blog this month are entered to win our THREE weekly National Watermelon Month July prizes, so comment as often as you’d like!
Don’t forget to enter our 2015 Watermelon Carving Contest! We still need plenty of entries in the “Beginner” category, so all you new carvers should definitely enter for a chance to win. The deadline for entries is 11:59 PM on August 3. There are $4,000 in prizes and the first 25 entrants will receive a Dexas watermelon cutting board. Check out the official contest web page for categories, judging criteria and how to enter!