Watermellon, Kleckley's Sweet

 WATERMELON KLECKLEY'S SWEET

Some say that watermelons are the food of angels, and if you've ever tasted a homegrown watermelon you'll surely agree. Only a fresh, homegrown watermelon would ever be considered heavenly enough for angels, so adding them to your home garden will make for a special treat come summer. Kleckley's Sweet was also called "Monte Cristo" watermelon or "The Wonder Melon".  This melon was bred in 1887 by W.A. Kleckley who resided in Alabama.  Some say it was Burpee who introduced this watermelon in 1897.  Others say Robert Buist Seed Co.  At this point it doesn't matter because Kleckey's Sweet has become an American favorite and sort of a legend in the watermelon world.  Why?  The lip-smacking sweet flavor of course. Touted in many catalogs as "The finest and sweetest melon for home use."  This watermelon produces a thin, green rind, red flesh and white seeds.  The oblong fruits can reach 25-40 pounds.  Not a good shipper because of the thin skin, but perfect for the home garden.  This is what makes heirlooms so unique.   

Planting Kleckley’s Sweet 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.