Nothing is better than enjoying luscious watermelon on summer days. If you are a melon person, consider growing it yourself.
Fortunately, many icebox watermelons require less space. Moreover, a Sugar Baby watermelon is one of the best icebox types.
The Sugar Baby watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is an excellent heirloom icebox watermelon variety.
Additionally, it first appeared in 1956. It has garnered fans ever since.
If you attempt to grow your watermelon, scroll through this ultimate guide. It will help you know Sugar Baby watermelons better.
Sugar Baby Watermelon Vs. Regular Watermelon
Before growing this icebox watermelon, you must know the differences between Sugar Baby watermelons and full-size ones.
Here are four things that make icebox varieties like Sugar Baby more appealing than regular cultivars.
Super Sweet Fruits
This petite, round watermelon cultivar possesses dark or medium green skin. Besides, it boasts a bright red, firm, and sweet flesh.
Furthermore, sugar Baby watermelon seeds are tiny. They come in tan-black too.
Watermelons are an incredible source of healthy antioxidants. Thus, Sugar Baby is an impressive, sweet way to get good nutrition.
In addition, it has a high Brix measurement. The commercial growers of watermelons appreciate super sweet melons.
They scientifically measure the sweetness or total sugar concentration of the flesh using Brix.
The Brix value of the Sugar Baby falls around 10.2, making it one of the tastiest and sweetest watermelon varieties.
Although the melon is small, it packs a flavor punch.
As the name indicates, this watermelon cultivar offers a sweet bite. According to the Brix measurement, it is as sweet as ripe tomato or mango.
The Brix value varies widely depending on growing environments, though.
If you can withhold water for about 7 days before harvesting a Sugar Baby watermelon, it will taste sweeter.
The Sugar Baby watermelon is prolific yet easy to grow. Like other watermelons, it is not overly demanding in the garden.
This cultivar is fond of heat.
Thus, you should grow the plant when the soil is warm. At least, the temperature reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit or about 21 degrees Celcius.
If you live in a short-growing season region, consider using black plastic to cover the soil before planting. This will speed up warming.
Since melons love water, you have to water your Sugar Baby watermelons when there is little rain.
Vines Are More Compact
Icebox melon varieties feature vines with a width of 6-8 feet. On the other hand, the regular ones spread 12 to 19 feet.
The yield of each vine depends on the cultivar and environment.
Sugar Baby watermelons generate 2-5 melons every vine. In long-growing season areas, the first melon is typically the biggest.
Moreover, they will be smaller melons later. Plant the Sugar Baby variety 4 feet or 1.2 meters apart.
Sugar Baby watermelons belong to icebox types because of their small fruits. They weigh around 6-15 pounds (2.5 to 6.8 kilos).
Besides, these melons only spread 6-10 inches or 15 to 25 cm.
While regular watermelons demand a walk-in cooler or spring house, the icebox ones just need a picnic hamper or fridge.
These tiny, round watermelons are easy to consume as well. In addition, they bring any family supper or picnic to the next level.
Undoubtedly, Sugar Baby watermelons are ideal for small families. They fit into an icebox with ease, hence the name.
Sugar Baby Watermelon Days to Maturity
Like other icebox varieties, the Sugar Baby bears small, round watermelons. They reach maturity 75-80 days after germination.
On the other hand, regular watermelons need 120 days to do the same. Despite their tiny fruits, they possess unmatched sweetness and flavor.
Further, this early maturing cultivar loves warm and dry conditions to do well. Also, it thrives in Mediterranean climates.
The conditions of Mediterranean allow the vines to reach a width of 12 feet or 4 meters. Each vine typically develops about three watermelons in such environments.
Sugar Baby Watermelon When to Pick
As a gardener, you must know when Sugar Baby melons are ready to pick. It is the most challenging part of growing this watermelon variety.
It takes most watermelons five weeks to ripen from blooms. Check on the Sugar Baby melon’s yellow ground spot and brown tendril.
The watermelon becomes perfectly ripe when its nearby tendril turns brown.
A bright yellow tendril is one of the unmistakable signs to tell if a watermelon is ripe. If it remains tan, wait for the fruit to ripen.
When it comes to Sugar Baby watermelons, a brown tendril indicates that you must wait about seven days before picking the fruit.
Consider using a weatherproof marker.
If you do not have any, purchase them at home centers. After that, write the date on the watermelon when its tendril turns brown.
Writing the date allows you to track your watermelons. Besides, it keeps you from picking Sugar Baby melons at the wrong time.
Ripe Sugar Baby watermelons can remain on the vine for 14 days. However, heavy rainfalls typically make fruits crack.
Thus, if you see a melon with a cracked rind, harvest the fruit and consume it right away.
The Cultivation of Sugar Baby Watermelons
If you adore watermelons, grow the Sugar Baby variety yourself. Yes, it is small, but it is big in flavor.
Also, the fruit comprises very few seeds.
A Sugar Baby watermelon loves warm and dry surroundings. Moreover, it thrives in Mediterranean climates.
In such environments, the vines of Sugar Baby melons can attain a width of 4 meters (12 feet) or more.
Then, every plant develops a few watermelons.
Most people grow Sugar Baby melons from seeds indoors for 1.5 to 2 months before transplanting the seedlings outside.
This icebox watermelon cultivar demands rich and well-drained soil enhanced with animal manures and compost.
The watermelons require direct sun exposure for about 6 hours a day. Also, each plant requires 60 square feet (5.5 square meters) or more.
Sugar Baby Watermelon Diseases and Pests
If you need some extra sugar baby melon information, you are in the right place. This watermelon cultivar demands regular irrigation.
Likewise, you need to give Sugar Baby melons drip irrigation. Like other watermelon varieties, they are prone to numerous fungal diseases.
Crop rotation helps lower the risk of lethal disease. Additionally, the applications of fungicides do likewise.
The striped cucumber beetles may feast on Sugar Baby melons. You can keep them away by using rotenone and hand-picking.
Use floating row covers to prevent striped cucumber beetles from attacking Sugar Baby varieties. Just install them at planting.
Nematodes and aphids may hurt Sugar Baby melons. Furthermore, fungal diseases like powdery mildew and anthracnose can harm the watermelon crop.
Gummy stem blight is another fatal disease afflicting cucurbits such as pumpkins, cucumbers, and watermelons.
The Pollination of Sugar Baby Watermelons
Like other melons, icebox melon varieties need the presence of bees that act as pollinators. These watermelons comprise yellow female and male blooms.
Bees transport pollen from male flowers to female ones. This leads to pollination and the production of fruits.
On some occasions, watermelons do not get pollinated. In addition to insufficient bee populations, wet conditions can result in pollination failure.
If you cannot find many bees in the garden, give the plants special care. Just hand-pollinate the Sugar Baby melons for higher yields.
After that, dab the male blooms using a cotton swab.
You can hand pollinate the plant with the help of a tiny paintbrush too. Next, move the pollen to the female ones.
Other Icebox Watermelons to Consider
Speaking of icebox types, Sugar Baby melons are not the only option. Other cultivars provide more fruit for every vine.
Below are other tasty icebox watermelon cultivars.
- ‘Tiger Baby’
This icebox type measures about 5-6 pounds (2.2-2.7 kilos). Furthermore, it comes to maturity 80-90 days after germination.
- ‘Yellow Doll’ and ‘Yellow Baby’
These watermelons produce luscious yellow flesh. Besides, they employ a dark green rind and vivid green stripes.
They both are excellent since they ripen in 65-75 days. Moreover, they are suited to northern regions that have a short growing season.
- ‘Doll Babies’
This custom watermelon seed mix includes two varieties of icebox melons. You can grow watermelons with pinky-red and yellow fleshes.
They need 68-80 days to reach maturity.
- ‘Bush Sugar Baby’
This icebox cultivar comprises compact vines that grow up to 42 inches or about 1 meter. They usually produce two fruits.
‘Bush Sugar Baby’ melons do great in containers. Also, they ripen in about 2 ½ months.
- ‘Cal Sweet Bush’
The plant consists of compact yet bushy vines. Besides, they measure 14-18 inches or 35-45 cm long. Every vine boasts up to three melons.
The fruits weigh around 10-12 pounds (4.5-5.4 kilos). In addition to their striped rinds, they employ red flesh.
They ripen in 3 months and do well in containers.
- ‘New Orchid’
This variety produces melons that measure 7-9 pounds (about 3.2-4 kilos). Apart from ripening in 80 days, they taste like sherbet.
Icebox watermelon varieties are worth growing. Additionally, these compact fruits become productive growers.
The Sugar Baby watermelon is no different. This heirloom icebox cultivar is petite yet prolific. Also, it lets you beat the heat while providing healthy antioxidants.