About Congo Watermelon: As the name of this melon suggests, watermelons originated in Africa, specifically Egypt. In these desert regions, wild watermelons provided a source of water if no other water was available. Archaeologists have found watermelon seeds everywhere from King Tut's tomb to the holds of slave ships to the ruins of ancient China, proving this melon's enduring popularity. Congo watermelons have a very high sugar content and unsurpassed taste, winning the prestigious AAS Award in 1950.
Congo Watermelon Germination: In cool climates, watermelon seeds should be started indoors, but no sooner than a month before transplanting; plant three seeds per peat pot, 1/4" deep. Provide heat to keep the soil at least 80-85 degrees F. Cut off all but the strongest seedling as soon as true leaves appear, and transplant about a week after frost; put two or three plants in each hill with a 6-8' space in all directions. Gardeners in warm climates will be able to direct sow watermelons as soon as the soil temperature reaches at least 75 degrees F, planting six seeds per hill with 6-8' of space in all directions. Thin to the strongest two or three plants as soon as the seedlings appear. Watermelons should be planted in full sun and rich, loose soil. Young seedlings may benefit from black plastic to warm up the soil.
Growing Congo Watermelon Seeds: As soon as the vines begin to develop, apply a thick layer of mulch to control weeds and protect the melons from soil contact. Keep the soil moist until the fruit begins to grow, then water only if the soil dries out completely. Watch out for insect pests, which can be a problem. Congo melons resist anthracnose.
Harvesting Congo Watermelon: Gardeners use many different methods of testing whether their watermelons are ripe, but knowing the approximate mature size of the melon helps to determine when it is nearing ripeness. One test is to knock on the watermelon with your knuckles, listening for a dull thump rather than a hollow ring. Another method is to check the underside of the melon where it rests on the ground; the skin should be a rich yellow. Also, the curling tendril closest to the stem of the melon often indicates ripeness when it begins to turn brown. Watermelons usually keep for several weeks in a cool place.
Saving Congo Watermelon Seeds: Watermelons will cross with other varieties of watermelon, so isolation may be necessary to ensure genetic purity. When the melon is ripe, the seeds will be mature. Cut open the melon and remove the seeds; wash them to remove the sticky residue. Spread them out to dry for a week, then store them in a cool place for up to four years.
Detailed Congo Watermelon Info: Citrullus lanatus. Annual. 85 days. 200 seeds per oz. 6-12" height. 5-6' spacing. Produces 30-50 lb. oblong, green striped watermelons with dark red flesh.