Magazine article Sunset

Space-Saving Watermelons

Magazine article Sunset

Space-Saving Watermelons

Article excerpt

Bush types take only half the space of standard melons

Thoughts of growing your own crunchy, sweet watermelons in the backyard vegetable garden are enticing - until you discover that most vines grow 6 to 9 feet long. One plant can devour an entire small-space vegetable garden.

Fortunately for watermelon lovers, a few varieties aren't space hogs. Bush watermelons take up only about half the area of standard kinds (most grow about 3 to 4 feet long). And they still deliver the flavor that you expect from a homegrown melon. Keep in mind, though, that even bush watermelons aren't small plants. Make sure you give them plenty of space to grow, so they don't take over your bush beans, carrots, or other small prey.

Watermelons should be planted as soon as possible. Order seeds right away.

CHOOSE FROM THREE REDS AND A YELLOW

Bush watermelons are considered icebox types - depending on the variety, they weigh 5 to 12 pounds, and are small enough to fit in the refrigerator. The four varieties listed below were tested in the Sunset garden. Mature melons weighed 11 to 12 pounds, generally exceeding catalog descriptions. 'Bush Baby II' grew to a rotund 21 1/2 pounds.

Each vine generally produces only a couple of melons; 'Yellow Doll', which grows on semicompact vines, produces more fruit.

'Bush Baby II' (80 days). Shiny, dark green 10-pound fruit, bright red flesh. Very sweet, and much larger than 10 pounds in our test.

'Bush Sugar Baby' (80 days). Dark green 12-pound fruit, orangy red flesh. Not as sweet as others in our test.

'Garden Baby' (70 to 76 days). Round, dark green 6- to 8-pound fruit, red flesh. The sweetest red in our test. …

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