Shady Area Color & When To Harvest Watermelons

Question:

What can I plant for color in a north-facing planter box? It receives lots of shade, although it's not dark. The planter is ten feet long, faced with native rock.

Answer:

  • Colorizing shady areas can be done with flowers and or foliage.
  • I prefer using attractive foliage, and Coleus can be beaten. The vibrant, maroon, yellow, or red leaf colors will more than make from the lack of flowers. You'll also find varieties with deep lobes that give them an exciting look.
  • My second choice is Lamium, Dead Nettle, the mint green leaves splashed with white along with the white, pink, or purple flowers makes a low growing, cascading solution.
  • Another option is New Guinea Impatiens. Their flower is about three times the size of a regular Impatiens, and the foliage is dark green with deep red stems and midribs. Midribs are those leaf veins that separate or segment a leaf into the section. New Guinea Impatiens, they're very bold. White, Pink, Red, Orange, and Bicolor are the typical colors. These varieties should continue to bloom into early November; however, it is improbable that any of these varieties will survive the winter cold. They'll collapse with the first cold spell or frosty night. When this occurs, I'd then replace them with Cyclamen until next spring.
  • Earwigs, snails, and slugs can be controlled with Sluggo Plus.

Question:

 How do I know when my Sugar Baby Watermelons are ready to pick? I don't want to pick them too soon.

Answer:

  • Unlike other fruits such as tomatoes, watermelons do not ripen after harvesting. So, yes, you don't want to pick them early, and there has been a debate about when to pick them.
  • Harvesting Sugar Baby Watermelons generally begins eighty days after planting. This is not an exact date but instead a benchmark to work around. It is more precise if you grew your melons from seed and less actuate from transplants. The other significant variable is temperature. Watermelons like warm days and nights to mature on time; however, our temperatures vary; thus, we need to use a little educated guesswork to determine when to pick them.
  • As the maturity day approaches, you check your plants daily. Every watermelon has a curly tendril immediately below where it is attached to the vine. When this tendril is green, the melon is not ready for harvesting. When it is brown and shriveled, you have a ninety percent probability the melon is ready to be picked. In addition, Sugar Baby should be about ten inches in diameter with a dark green rind.
  • Another test you can use to tell when a watermelon is ripe is if your fingernail can not indent the skin. The outer skin of the watermelon tends to feel a little rough when ripe. The old-school method of thumping the melon is not very precise or accurate. If your melon(s) passes the Sugar Baby Watermelon maturity test(s), they can be pick by snipping them off at the stem with a pair of shears or scissors. Like so many homegrown fruits and vegetables, the flavor and sweetness of a chilled homegrown watermelon is fabulous.