Watermelons are large round fruits that thrive very well in dry lands. Some varieties have seeds while others are seedless. They are a good source of water in the diets of human beings but can also be used for making jams and other preservatives including jell preparation. They are also useful in flavoring summer drinks and smoothies. They are quite nutritious, for instance, one cup serving of watermelon can provide calories, vitamin C, vitamins A, B6, B1 and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, antioxidants among others. They can also be prepared as grilled watermelons as found in the case of watermelon stake which is commonly found in restaurants in certain countries.
Yellow watermelon This variety has a yellow colored flesh and is said to be sweeter and more honey flavored than the red fleshed watermelon.
Orangeglo This variety has a very sweet orange pulp, is large and oblong and weighs 9-14 kgs (20-300pounds). It has a light green rind with jagged dark green stripes and takes 90-100 days from planting to harvest.
The moon and stars variety This variety has a purple rind and has many yellow circles (stars) and one or two large yellow circles (moon). It weighs 9-23kg and the flesh is pink or red and has brown seeds. The foliage is spotted and planting takes 80-85 days.
Watermelons seeds can be planted directly in the field or indirectly through the nursery. In the tropics direct planting should be done between 20th April to15th May while nursery planting should be done between 1st May to 20th June. The seeds should first be grown in nurseries or containers and then transplanted through plastic mulch when the daily temperatures are 60degrees F.
Before field planting is done, one should lay clear plastic mulch since this would help in conserving moisture but also increases total early yield. The mulch could be black plastic or paper. Fumigation of the soil is also necessary to control weeds and soil borne diseases. Prepare the planting bed 30 days before actual field planting. When applying fertilizer, at least 50% of nitrogen should be in nitrate form and should be applied during field preparation.
Spacing The recommended spacing for watermelons is 6 to 8 feet between rows and 3 to 4 feet between plants in a row. For seedless varieties, you need a pollinator variety placed in every third row to ensure there is good fruit set.
Domestic players such as Nakumatt are beginning to open stores in smaller towns outside the capital city Nairobi, whilst pan-African player Shoprite has been rumored to be considering market entry through the acquisition of struggling local player Uchumi. While the farmers deliver direct to Uchumi, the supply of indigenous vegetables to Nakumatt is done through traders who supply to its subsidiary company
There are several other local vegetable markets for water melons in Kenya. These include; supermarkets, Aghakhan market, city market, Kangemi market, Gikomba among others in Nairobi and other towns in Kenya. We also have a few export markets such as the South Africa one that imports watermelons and other vegetables from Kenya.