By Fatima Muraina
The melon plant thrives on soft soil, so the clumps of hard soil will have to be broken down. Once it is broken down into a fine, loose mix, the soil is ready for planting.
The planting season is between April and June which is the start of the rainy season. Egusi grows very well in arid climate. After preparing the land, ridges are created and the dried shelled seeds are planted in these ridges.
Generally, melons do not thrive on open flat fields. It is best to plant the seeds in a place sheltered with trees. These trees can serve as support for the climbing tendrils.
You can add organic compost prior to planting the seeds. Place 3 to 5 seeds in each hole at a depth of 2 inches. The spacing between seeds should be between 18 to 20 inches.
Then water the seeds regularly. Usually the seedlings appear within a week.
Once the seedlings are fully established, you should also add manure or organic compost. If there are no trees to support the climbing vine, you can use stakes to support the melon plant. It takes about 6 months for the plant to mature. Usually, 1 stem of melon can shooot out 5 to 15 heads. One head can produce up to 150 seeds.
You can do an intercropping with cassava, yam and maize. However, the melon vine is a climbing plant so you might need to plant in small quantities when inter cropping.
Since the melon plant is a climbing plant, you can provide support for the vine by staking. Usually the melon gourd is ready for harvest within 90 days.
The melon gourds are usually harvested between October and December.
Once the stems are dry, you can harvest your watermelons. At the time of harvest the fruit turns from the green to white or yellowish-white.
You break the melons after harvest and leave for 1-2 weeks to allow the melons decompose then you can start collecting the seeds.