By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Watermelons can take 90 to 100 days to maturity. That’s a long time when you’re craving that sweet, juiciness and beautiful scent of a ripe melon. Cole’s Early will be ripe and ready in just 80 days, shaving a week or more off your wait time. What is a Cole’s Early melon? This watermelon has pretty pink flesh and the characteristic flavor of the tastiest of these fruits.
Cole’s Early Watermelon Info
Watermelons have a long and storied history of cultivation. Some of the first mention of the fruits as a crop appeared more than 5,000 years ago. Egyptian hieroglyphics contain pictorials of watermelon as part of the food placed in tombs. With over 50 varieties in cultivation today, there is a flavor, size and even color for almost any taste. Growing Cole’s Early watermelon will expose you to a pastel fleshed version and early season ripeness.
There are four main types of watermelon: icebox, picnic, seedless and yellow or orange. Cole’s Early is considered an icebox because it is a smaller melon, easily stored in the refrigerator. They are bred to be just enough for a small family or single person. These diminutive melons grow to just 9 or 10 pounds, most of which is water weight.
Cole’s Early watermelon info indicates the variety was introduced in 1892. It is not considered a good shipping melon because the rind is thin and the fruits tend to break, but in the home garden, growing Cole’s Early watermelon will have you enjoying the taste of summer more quickly than many melon varieties.
How to Grow Cole’s Early Melon
The Cole’s Early melon will develop vines that are 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 m.) long, so select a site with plenty of space. Melons need full sun, well-draining, nutrient rich soil and consistent water during establishment and fruiting.
Start seeds directly outside in warm regions or plant indoors 6 weeks before the date of your last frost. Melons can tolerate moderately alkaline to acidic soil. They grow best when soil temperatures are 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 C.) and have no frost tolerance. In fact, where soils are only 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C.), the plants will simply stop growing and will not fruit.
Harvesting Cole’s Early Watermelon
Watermelons are one of the fruits that do not ripen after they have been picked, so you really have to have your timing just right. Pick them too early and they are white and tasteless. Harvest too late and they have little storage life and the flesh may have gotten “sugared” and grainy.
The thumping method is a wives’ tale because all melons will give off a loud thud and only those who have tapped thousands of melons can reliably determine ripeness by sound. One indicator of a ripe watermelon is when the part touching the ground turns from white to yellow. Next, check the little tendrils closest to the stem. If they are dried up and turning brown, the melon is perfect and should be enjoyed immediately.
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In early spring, the temperature may seem too chilly, and the ground might be too damp for many vegetables, but there are a handful of hardy performers that can go in the ground. As a bonus, there are fewer insects and diseases around in early spring, so your vegetables should get off to a good start. Take a look at six vegetables that you can plant even before the last frost date has passed.
The leafy portion of rhubarb is toxic to humans and other animals. You can still compost rhubarb leaves, even though they are slightly toxic if ingested. The oxalic acid crystals dissipate in the soil long before other plants absorb them.
Add a 3-inch layer of organic matter—such as compost, leaves, or grass clip pings—to the garden soil and turn it in a few weeks before planting. This will give the leaves or grass clippings time to decompose and release nutrients into the soil before planting. Dig the soil as deep as a garden spade or shovel will reach, usually 10 to 12 inches. Turn the organic matter under the soil as soon as possible after application.
Have your soil tested every 3 to 4 years to determine how rich it is or what nutrients it is lacking. Soils in East Texas usually are very acidic, while soils in South and West Texas usually are alkaline, and soils on the plains usually have plenty of potassium. If you do not have your soil tested, apply about 1 to 2 pounds of a complete fertilizer (such as 10-20-10) for each 100 square feet or about 30 feet of row to be planted. Spread the fertilizer over the soil surface after the soil is dug. Then mix the fertilizer into the soil 2 to 3 inches with a rake or tiller.
After fertilizing, bed the soil by pulling it into ridges 12 inches wide, 6 to 8 inches high, and 36 inches apart (center to center). This is necessary for good drainage. Creating raised beds is most important in heavier soils as they do not drain very well. Bedding the soil also mixes the fertilizer into the row where plants can reach it. Apply more fertilizer as the plants grow during the season.
Vegetable Seed Germination Temperatures
Vegetable seed germination is greatly dependent upon soil temperature. Other near equal factors include seed vitality (the age of the seed), soil moisture, soil air, and soil conditions and workability.
This chart shows the range of soil temperatures needed for seed germination. The chart also shows the number of days to germination at optimum temperatures. Seed will germinate at temperatures between the minimum soil temperature and the optimum soil temperatures, but the number of days to germination will be greater.
Use this chart to determine if the soil temperature in the garden is right for seed starting the crop you want to plant. (Use a soil thermometer to take the soil temperature.) If the outdoor soil temperature is not right, you can likely start seed indoors at near optimum temperature.
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For specific seed starting requirements for the crop you want to grow, seed specific crop seed starting directions. Go to the Index to find your crop or see Seed Starting Specific Crops also in the Index.