One of the best parts of summer is gorging on fresh, juicy watermelon. ‘Shiny Boy’ melon, an All-America Selections (AAS) winner in 2010, is ready for harvest 90 days from planting seeds, which is earlier than many watermelons of this size. The globe-shaped melons, weighing an average of 20 pounds or more, won high marks for sweet, tropical flavor. Skin is glossy and dark green with wide green stripes. Prolific vines spread 12 to 13 feet.
Common name: ‘Shiny Boy’ watermelon
Botanical name: Citrullus lanatus ‘Shiny Boy’
Plant type: Fruit
Width: 12 to 13 feet
• Sun: Full sun
• Soil: Rich, humusy loam
• Moisture: Medium
• Mulch: Use straw or hay to retain soil moisture and provide a place for fruits to rest, so they don’t sit directly on wet soil. You can also place boards under fruits.
• Pruning: None needed.
• Fertilizer: Use plenty of compost and other organic fertilizer.
• By seed
Pests and diseases
• Cucumber beetles, aphids, squash bugs, cutworms, and squash vine borers
• Powdery mildew, bacterial wilt, blossom-end rot
• In colder zones, start seeds indoors about three to four weeks before the last frost date. In warmer regions, sow seed directly in the ground when the soil temperature is at least 70°F. Leave 8 to 10 feet between plants.
• If you support the heavy fruit (with slings, for instance), ‘Shiny Boy’ will do well on a trellis or other support.
All in the family
• Other familiar food crops in Cucurbitaceae include pumpkins, squash, and cucumbers.
• Watermelon originated in southern Africa. The genus Citrullus contains only three species, all of them annual vines.
Where to buy
• Swallowtail Garden Seeds, 877-489-7333, www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com
• Park Seed, Greenwood, SC, 800-845-3369, www.parkseed.com
• Vermont Bean Seed Company, Randolph, WI, 800-349-1071, www.vermontbean.com
(Text by Elizabeth Noll, photo of Citrullus lanatus ‘Shiny Boy’ courtesy of Known-You Seeds)