Watermelon ‘Little Darling’

Family: Cucurbitaceae

Although watermelons can be grown very successfully outdoors in the UK (once all risk of frost has passed); I must tell you straight away that watermelon seeds need to be started off inside a glasshouse, polytunnel, or consevatory.  ‘Little Darling’ plants need to grow within the confines of a warm and protected environment until all risk of frost has passed (which is usually from late May to the middle of June, depending on where you garden – in the UK).

Watermelon ‘Little Darling’ produces simply exquisite watermelons.  These aren’t the jumbo sized watermelons that you can boast about carrying; ‘Little Darling’ watermelons tend to be smaller in size.  Inside every inky, bottle-green coloured, ovoid fruit is a super-sweet, blush coloured flesh that has a superior flavour to any shop bought watermelon I’ve tried.  I must confess that I never consider purchasing a supermarket watermelon, as I just don’t enjoy eating these types of watermelons; yet I wouldn’t like to experience a summer without growing ‘Little Darling’ and dining out on these delicious watermelons.  This really is a phenomenal watermelon!

In the UK, I’ve found that the best time to sow watermelon seeds is from April to May.  Watermelon ‘Little Darling’ seeds need warm temperatures of around 18-25C (65-77F) to trigger germination.  Thankfully, you don’t need to give your plants quite as warm temperatures after your seedlings have emerged; once these watermelon seeds have germinated, the plants will grow quite happily in a light and bright environment that provides temperatures of 15C (59F) and above.  These watermelons are frost tender plants that will be killed by low temperatures; consequently, you may need a reliable heater to provide your plants with their ideal growing conditions.

Take care to protect your ‘Little Darling’ plants from harsh or intense light (bright sunlight shining through a glasshouse often scorches plants and damages their leaves in spring and summertime) using blinds, bubble wrap, or shade paint.

If you don’t have a glasshouse, polytunnel, or conservatory, but you have a particularly bright and sunny, South facing window, you could try growing watermelon ‘Little Darling’ seeds on your window sill.  I’ve found that ‘Little Darling’ plants will thrive in containers of good quality, peat-free compost.  However, remember that even brand new seedlings will become leggy and weak within a day or two – if the plants don’t enjoy sufficient light shinning down on them from above; as a result, you may need to supply your watermelon plants with additional LED lighting.  If you have a warm conservatory, watermelons will grow happily in this protected environment.

Please don’t be too hasty when moving your plants outdoors; remember to harden your ‘Little Darling’ watermelon plants off, by moving your plants outdoors in the morning, and bringing the plants back under cover again in the evening, for at least two weeks, prior to planting.

Watermelons will be content to live their whole lives inside a warm glasshouse, polytunnel, or conservatory.  However, once all risk of frost has passed, ‘Little Darling’ can be grown outside in a bright and sunny, sheltered location.  Plants can be grown in containers of good quality, peat-free compost or planted out in the soil at your allotment, or grown in garden borders or raised beds.  It’s important to grow ‘Little Darling’ in moist but well-drained soils (avoid waterlogged soils at all costs) in very bright and sunny, sheltered locations.

Once your ‘Little Darling’ watermelon plants have produced five leaves, cut away the remainder of your plant’s stem after its fifth leaf.  Then, when your plant has produced four side shoots, remove any new side shoots that form; this will concentrate all of your plant’s energy on watermelon production.

‘Little Darling’ plants can be grown without the use of any supports, when they form trailing plants grown along the ground; alternatively, ‘Little Darling’ watermelons can be grown up a climbing structure or support frame.

I am absolutely full of praise for watermelon ‘Little Darling’, this is a wonderful watermelon to grow inside a glasshouse or polytunnel, or at your garden or allotment.

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