Watermelon is almost out of season, but before fall comes around here’s the juicy scoop on watermelon. Can you guess where watermelon came from? Surprisingly, it originated in southern Africa, specifically the Kalahari desert. Who would have thought that a fruit made of 92% water could grow in a dessert!
Growing a Watermelon
Watermelons are a type of gourd, related to pumpkins and squash. They fruit late in the summer. Like many squash, watermelon prefers temperatures above 77F. Watermelon typically grow in rows 8-12 feet apart. They are planted far apart because vines may spread 6-8 feet. After 60 days, the vine produces its first watermelons. In 3 months time, the crop is ready to harvest.
Watermelon comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Because there are so many varieties, often times they are grouped by characteristics, like shape, rind color or pattern, and size.
The most common watermelon varieties are;
- The Classic
- Seeded and range from 15-45 lb, can be round, long, or oblong.
- The majority of watermelon grown today are seedless due to high demand. These weigh around 10-25 lb, and are round to oblong in shape. Seedless watermelon is not from genetic modification, but hybridization.
- A round personal 1-7 pounder that has a thinner rind, meaning more flesh per pound!
- Yellow & Orange
- A 10-30 lb round watermelon who is missing the nutrient lycopene comes in yellow and orange.
Although watermelons are mostly water, there are still many key vitamins and minerals.
- More than 25% of the RDA for Vitamin C, based on a 2 cup serving.
- Vitamin C can help the immune system fight sickness.
- A water-soluble vitamin that plays a role in cognitive development.
- Also aids in immune function and hemoglobin formation.
- What gives watermelon and many other fruits and vegetables a red color.
- An antioxidant that has been shown to help fight inflammation.
- Naturally occurring non-essential amino acid.
- The amino acid Citrulline is converted into arginine, which aids in heart and immune health.
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