Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that is abundant in tomatoes and tomato products, is widely thought to help in the prevention of a variety of maladies.
With sweet, firm, bright red flesh, this 25-lb. (11-kg) variety is best eaten fresh or in fruit salads.
Spacing: 48-72in (120-200cm)
Exposure: Full Sun - 6+ hours direct sun
Days to harvest: 85
Crimson Sweet produces round melons averaging 25 lbs. (11 kg) with light green and dark green stripes. This melon is even prettier on the inside, with exceptionally deep red flesh that's sweet and luscious. Crimson Sweet vines need room to grow, spreading up to 10 ft. (3 m) long. After planting water frequently, allowing the surface soil to dry between watering. Mulch your watermelon plants to conserve moisture and help keep the watermelons clean. Your watermelons are ready to harvest when the fruit has grown to full size.
Watermelons need a lot of space so plant where there is plenty of open ground. Space watermelon plants 48 to 72 in. (12 to 200 cm) apart, with at least 8 ft. (2.4 m) between rows.
Include organic matter such as compost or humus to the soil and add a balanced fertilizer that's high in nitrogen. (Ask your local garden center to recommend a fertilizer.)
• Choose a sunny location (6+ hours of sun) and dig a hole about two times as wide as your pot.
• Remove your plant from the pot by loosening the soil and tipping it out into your hand. Place your plant in the soil about as deep as it was in the pot.
• Refill the space around your plant with soil and press lightly to compact the dirt, keeping your plant firmly in the ground.
• Water immediately to settle the soil, and add more soil as needed, bringing it level to the rest of your garden.
Watermelon plants have moderately deep roots and watering is seldom necessary unless the weather turns dry for a prolonged period. Withhold water as melons start to mature to intensify sweetness.
Knowing how to determine when a watermelon is perfectly ripe isn't easy the first time. The surest sign of ripeness in most watermelon varieties is the color of the bottom spot—where the melon sits on the ground. As the watermelon matures, the spot turns from almost white to a rich yellow. Also, all watermelons lose the powdery or slick appearance on the top and take on a dull look when fully ripe.
A cut melon, if covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, will keep several days in the refrigerator.
After picking a watermelon, chill it before serving for best flavor.
Watermelons probably originated almost 5,000 years ago in the Kalahari Desert of Africa where botanists have found its wild ancestors still growing.
Watermelons migrated north through Egypt, and during the Roman era they were cultivated and prized. Hieroglyphics on the walls of Egyptian buildings tell stories of their harvest. Watermelons were buried in the tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife.
Melons spread across the European continent and particularly flourished in the warmer Mediterranean areas. Watermelons were documented in 1629 in Massachusetts. During the Civil War, the Confederate Army boiled watermelon to make molasses for cooking.
It is in the Southern states such as the Carolinas and Georgia where watermelons flourish as commercial crops. Numerous varieties were developed, and variations of flesh color surfaced. By the late 1800s, the W. Atlee Burpee & Co. was developing its own varieties and selling seeds.