Watermellon, Charleston Grey

 WATERMELON, Charleston Grey

Heirloom. Organic. Charleston Grey watermelon was introduced in 1954 by the Southeastern Vegetable Breeding Laboratory of Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston Grey produces fruits that are large, light greenish gray, 28-35 lbs., cylindrical-shaped, 22" long by 10 in. across.  Slice them open to find juicy, crisp, firm red flesh dripping with heavy watermelon flavor.  Rind is thick enough to protect it from that bumpy trip to the beach house or market.  This rind also helps protect it from sunburn as the fruit is growing in the garden.  Charleston Grey is resistant to anthracnose and fusarium.    

Planting Charleston Grey Watermelon

While starting seeds of the Watermelon is not necessarily difficult, the right conditions will make the process successful. Sow Watermelon seeds directly in the ground in the spring when the threat of frost has passed or start in containers several weeks before transplanting into soil. Keep the ground moist but not wet for the first couple of weeks. Pick a sunny, well-drained spot for planting for the best performance. Prefers a well-drained fertile soil in a sunny position.  Heirloom / Open Pollinated Watermelon are heat loving plants that prefer well drained loose soil and an even amount of water. Plant heirloom watermelon in rows or hills but make sure the soil is well warmed. In cooler climates, you can start watermelon seeds indoors 2-4 wks. before last frost to extend the growing season. Plant seeds ½ - 1" deep. Plant seeds or set out heirloom watermelon transplants in full sun. For rows plant 6-12" apart, in rows 6-10' apart. For hills plant 4-6 seeds per hill, in 1' diameter hills, with hills 6-10' apart. Germination should occur in 5-10 days in soil 70-85°F. In hills thin to 2 plants per hill. In rows thin plants to or set out transplants 24-36" apart. Harvest heirloom watermelon when fruit sounds hollow when thumped, when surface color turns dull, or underside turns yellow. Height: 6-10 inches (vines run along the garden floor) Spacing: 8-12" inches Depth: 1/4  inch Germination: 5-10 days

Starting from Seed Indoors

Generally, the time to start your seeds is about 2 weeks before the last expected spring frost date in your area, planting the seedlings outdoors about 2 weeks after that date. Another way to figure is to plan on setting out sturdy seedlings in the garden when night temperatures stay in the mid-50 degree range both day and night. Count back and sow seeds 6 to 8 weeks before that date normally arrives. Place a few seeds (5 to 10) into each pot and push them into the soil with your finger. Cover the seeds to a depth of approximately 1/2 inches of the potting mix. Mist each  pot with water until the soil appears moist. Place the pots in an area which will provide both light (which is required for germination) and heat, preferably about 65 to 70 degrees F and at least 8 hours of light each day. Check on the seeds every day and keep the seeds damp but not drenched by misting with your plant mister. You should see sprouting in about 5 to 10 days. Once your seedlings have reached about 4 to 6 inches in height, choose an area in your garden to transfer them. You can also use containers like barrels or clay pots. Dig holes twice the width and depth of each of your pots. Fill up each hole with water then let it drain off. Place a pot in the hole center and level so that your seedling is at the same level as the surrounding soil. Push dirt in carefully all the way to fill the hole back up. Water each seedling carefully so as not to soak the leaves or stem.

Direct-seeding into the Garden

Turn over the area you've selected to a depth of approximately 1/2 inches. Rake the area until it's level and smooth. Water the area until the soil is damp but not saturated. Scatter the seeds in the area. Gently rake the area to distribute the seeds further and protect them from birds. Or, press the seeds into the soil and cover with no more than 1/4 inches of soil. You can also place 2 to 3 seeds every 3 to 4 inches in rows approximately 8-12 inches apart, and cover seeds with 1/4 inches of soil. Place planting stakes around the area so you will know where to water. Check on your seeds about once a day. Make sure to mist the soil whenever it appears dry. Germination for the Watermelon plants is approximately 5 to 10 days, depending on the warmth of the soil.   

Germination Problems

Growing plants from seeds successfully depends on a lot of factors and this makes it impossible to guarantee success on every batch of seeds planted.  Factors include, soil composition, PH, temperature, moisture levels, seed depth, soil density, seed viability, seed storage and many others.  We tested the germination of all our seeds and this seed variety is around 80%, but your results may vary based on exactly how you plant and all the environmental factors.  Good luck.