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How to pick the sweetest watermelon

Here are a few tips to find the sweetest watermelon from the store or fresh from the garden!

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Gardening during hot South Carolina summers can be brutal. I can tell you that first hand after a long morning of yard work in Gandy’s Garden here at WLTX. I knew I was going to need a sweet treat to get me through the famously hot months. That’s why I decided to grow watermelon for the first time ever. The seeds were planted back in April and just in time for the mid July heat, our first melons are ready.

On our Facebook group, WLTX Gandy’s Gardeners, a few melon growers were wondering how to know when the fruit is ready. If a watermelon is picked early, they won’t be sweet and could be difficult to eat through, but if you leave a watermelon on the vine too long, the bugs will get to it before you do!

Here are a few tips to pick the perfect watermelon every time:

1) The Tap Test

Play the watermelon like a drum! If you feel an echo when you tap, that’s a sign the watermelon could be ripe (there’s air inside!). Watermelons that don’t have a beat probably aren’t ripe.

2) They feel heavy for their size

If you pick up a watermelon at the store and it feels heavy for its size, that’s a sign that there’s plenty of sweet juice ready to enjoy!

3) The underside is a creamy yellow color

This won’t work for every watermelon, but if the outside of the rind has a patch that’s creamy yellow, it means it’s been growing out on the field for a while. Watermelons that look perfect on the outside may not have been sitting out as long and may not have gotten enough hot sunshine to bring out their delicious sugars

4) If you’re growing watermelon, look at the tendrils

This tip only applies to gardeners growing watermelon vines, and it’s a very important one! Tendrils are the squiggly growth vines produce to keep them in place. When the tendril closest to the ripening fruit completely dries out, that’s a sign the fruit is ready to pick.

For more on Gandy's Garden, check out these stories!

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