Latvia's watermelon harvest promises to be plentiful this year

Local-grown watermelons have begun appearing in Latvian stores and markets, and the watermelon growers Maija and Andrejs Kondratjuks have emphasized that the harvest this year will be plentiful, reported LSM.lv on July 30.

"We tell the ripe ones not by their stalk but by their withered leaves. But because of the weather, the leaves are already dead, the night's being chilly. As a result, they are ripening but it will take them a bit longer,” said Maija Kondratjuka.

The enterprise began five years ago when Maija and Andrejs decided to plant melons and watermelons outside of their house in Gātciems, Babīte region.

“It is known that the largest last year's watermelons in Latvia weighed about 12-14 kilograms. Ours weren't as big. Ours weighed around 7-8 kilograms,” said the growers.

Kondratjuka explained that last year's harvest was better than this years because of the cold nights. "Fruits of the gourd family – pumpkins, cucumbers, melons, watermelons – don't like it.But they are growing. It's going to be fine. The year before last was rainy, they soaked in water, many perished in puddles, but some ripened,” said the grower. 

Currently, two varieties of melon and a dozen varieties of watermelon are grown in the fields. Each has a slightly different taste. The growers noted that anyone can grow watermelons in a field. 

"You sow it in a pot in mid- or late April. In the late mid-May, you plant it in the earth. To protect it from frost, it's best to cover it with something. To create a hotbed or a plastic tunnel. When the tunnel fills with leaves, around Jāņi, when it starts to bloom, then the tunnel is either opened up or removed. Then [the watermelon] starts to grow by itself. The important thing is not to flood it. It's better not to water it at all. At first, as its starts to grow, you water it, but no more after that,” said Kondratjuks. 

The owners admit that they have no idea whether watermelon farming could be made into a proper business. It depends on the weather, they say. If the days are warm and sunny, then an ample harvest can bring in ample returns. 

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