Watermelons are grown in rows that are about 10 feet apart in slightly raised beds that are made of fertilized sand. It is imperative that these plants are pollinated. In less than a month, the vine spreads over 8 feet. Two months later, the first watermelons are seen, and the crop can be harvested after three months.
While picking out a watermelon, ensure that it is symmetrical with no cuts and bruises. A watermelon that is ripe will have a healthy sheen, a dull rind and a dull yellow spot on its underside, where it touches the ground. To confirm that the melon is completely ripe, thump it and the sound should be dull and hollow while the weight of the watermelon should be heavy, considering its size.
Here are some very interesting facts about the watermelon:
- Watermelon belongs to the same family as pumpkins, cucumbers, and squashes. For the sake of classification, it qualifies as a fruit and a vegetable.
- The watermelon plant (Citrullus Lanatus) is native to the Kalahari desert in Southern Africa.
- Watermelon consists of 92% water and 8% sugar.
- Watermelons were brought to China across the Mediterranean sea in merchant ships. Incidentally, China is the largest producer of watermelons in the world today.
- The watermelon was brought into America across the Atlantic Ocean by African slaves.
- As watermelon comprises 92% water, early explorers found it as a useful item of food.
- Every part of the watermelon, including the seeds and the rind is edible.
- Watermelons are ideal for health as they do not contain any fat or cholesterol, are high in fiber content and vitamins A and C, and are also a good source of potassium.
- Over 1200 varieties of watermelon are grown in approximately 100 countries across the world.
- Watermelons are very fragile and cannot be harvested with the help of machines. Instead they are carefully tossed by workers on a relay that runs between the fields and the truck.
- Unripe watermelons should not be consumed, as they can be slightly acidic.
- The first recorded watermelon harvest was in Egypt and it took place an estimated 5000 years ago. This is depicted in the Egyptian hieroglyphics that were found in ancient buildings. As a matter of fact, watermelons were also placed in the tombs of kings as a form of nourishment in the afterlife.
- The largest consumption of watermelon is in the United States.
- The first cookbook that was published in the United States in 1176 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles.
- Watermelon is a popular gift in China and Japan.
- In Israel and Egypt, a sweet delicacy is made from watermelon.
- Bill Carson of Arrington, Tennessee grew a 262-pound watermelon in 1990. This feat found a place in the 1998 edition of the Guinness World Book of Records.
- The word 'watermelon' became a part of the dictionary in 1615.