The Many Watermelon Plants To Choose From
In considering watermelon plants for the vegetable garden, one might be thinking of the rather traditional red-fleshed varieties most often found in the supermarkets. In truth, there are over a thousand different varieties of watermelon, coming in various colors, shapes and sizes. Although you'll more often than not find watermelon plants in a home vegetable garden or in a field of their own, the watermelon is not a vegetable, nor is it even a melon. Watermelon plants are fruit-bearing herbs, and the fruit comes in a variety of colors, both externally and internally.
The watermelons you buy in the store for eating are of course usually good tasting. More and more people seek out the seedless varieties, although the seedless varieties usually have seeds, though fewer in number and often pale and thin as opposed to the black ones that are fun to spit. Unfortunately the watermelon plants that are harvested for the commercial market don't necessarily provide the best tasting fruit. Best tasting might be a subjective term, but in any case some of the sweetest varieties are never found in stores. There's a reason for this. Some varieties have very thin skins or rinds and are not suitable for shipping or storage. They are best eaten at or near the place they have grown. If sweetness is your criteria, you can usually find seeds of the sweetest varieties and grow your own watermelon plants, assuming you live in a zone in which the plant will flourish. Watermelons by and large fall into the category of tender annuals, and require rather long growing seasons, so are not always suitable for some gardens. If the location you live in does lend itself to growing watermelons, you'll find them a fairly easy plant to grow, and fun to watch.
If Size Matters - A typical watermelon will weigh anywhere from 10 to 30 pounds, with most varieties having an oblong shape, often called a "watermelon shape". There are smaller bush varieties weighing 10 pounds or less, and several giant varieties weighing over 100 pounds. If it's a large size your after, look for watermelon plants or seeds advertised as State Fair or American Champion. This variety (it goes by 3 or 4 names) has for years been the variety of choice for exhibition growers.
If Flavor Matters - On the other hand, you might not care about how big a watermelon is, but are only concerned with the taste. Most varieties are good tasting, but several have gained a reputation as being either the sweetest tasting or at least among the sweetest tasting. One of the favorites is Crimson Sweet, a medium sized watermelon which is a good shipper and can be grown in many areas where some watermelon plants do not do well. Crimson Sweet has the classic light skin with dark green stripes, and has a rather round shape. Moon and Stars is another exceptionally sweet watermelon, though not often found in the marketplace. It gets its name from its dark green rind which is covered by yellow spots of different sizes. This is an heirloom plant that you will probably have to start from seeds unless a nursery just happens to have plants available.
If Color Matters - Not all watermelons have red flesh. There is one good-tasting variety with nearly white flesh, the Cream of Saskatchewan, and another with yellow flesh, the OrangeGlo, the latter considered to be the sweetest of the yellow varieties on the market. The Jubilee watermelon is quite possibly the most popular of watermelon plants. The fruit often attains a weight of 40 pounds, and the red flesh is very sweet indeed. When you get right down to it, a watermelon is about 92% water and 6% sugar. Watermelons are a good source of vitamins. They contain other nutrients as well, but are not considered a particularly rich source of any of them. Just good eating.