This product is on backorder until approximately November as we await germination testing on the 2017 crop.

Watermelons - Bradford Family Watermelon

Rated 3.38 out of 5 based on 34 customer ratings
(34 customer reviews)


In the 1850s, Nathaniel Bradford developed a unique watermelon breed that was known as the sweetest and most flavorful, right down to its dark green skin. By the early 1900s, however, watermelons had been developed with hard, thick skins and tough rinds at the sacrifice of flavor, which were ultimately more profitable because they were able to be shipped with very little breakage. And so the Bradford watermelon, fell out of cultivation and became lost to the annals of history. However, although the commercial line disappeared, the Bradford family never stopped growing the original watermelon. Recently “rediscovered,” the Bradford Family Watermelon and its unique products are being introduced to chefs, gardeners and food enthusiasts around the world.

The Bradford Family Watermelon is passing germination tests at USDA’s Seed Lab in Columbia, SC, with greater than 90% success. However, this heirloom has been grown and saved on the same farm for over 100 years, so specific environmental conditions could affect germination. This is a rare seed being reintroduced to the home gardener and we encourage you to grow and save your own stock for regional adaptation. The Bradford Watermelon is now being successfully grown all over the USA, we welcome and encourage you feedback!

***This is a late summer melon, and requires very warm soil between 80 and 85 degrees, and to be kept damp, but not wet. Feedback from our customers suggests that planting too early and/or over-watering accounts for most failures in germination. Please call anytime if you have questions about growing these delicious watermelons, we are happy to help!***

These Bradford Watermelon seeds are rare, hand-selected, hand-sorted seeds direct from the Bradford family. The majority of the seed price goes to support the Bradford family as they continue to work hard to preserve this plant and reintroduce its unique, historic products. 3 Gram Packet

For additional information, please see the Bradford Family website:

Planting Instructions:


The challenge:

Available on backorder

Product Description

Average Seed / oz Seed / 100′ Row Average Yield / 100′ Row Days to Harvest
500 25 50-75 Melons 85
Planting Season Ideal Soil Temp Sun Frost Tolerance
After Last Frost 70-90°F Full Sun Frost Sensitive
Sowing Method Seed Depth Direct Seed Spacing Seeds Per Packet
Transplant or Direct Seed 1/2-1″ 2 Seeds per hill 10
Mature Spacing Days to Sprout Production Cycle Seed Viability
8 ft hill 10 ft row 3-10 Annual 4-5 years

Notes From Nathaniel Bradford:

Bradford Watermelons are a LATE SUMMER WATERMELON and prefer a sandy loam soil that is high in organic content and drains freely. Choose a location that best fits that soil condition in all day sun.

Cultivate the soil for the watermelon patch allowing approximately 40 square feet of growing space per plant. I prefer to lay out my patch in rows of hills spaced 8 feet apart on center from hill to hill and spacing between rows 10 feet apart on center. Each planting hill supports 2 plants.

To create your hills, dig a shallow hole about 6 to 8 inches in depth by about 18 inches across and fill the hole with well composted stable manure. Create mounds or hills over the manure using excavated soil from the hole about 8-10 inches high by 3 feet wide and flat on top.

Place seeds in the center of the mound about a half inch but no more than one inch deep. Make sure seeds are spaced out about an inch or so apart in the mound. Lightly tamp the soil over the seeds to settle out the soil and carefully water them in if desired to speed germination.

At the time the vines flop over and begin to vine across the ground, side dress the mounds with well composted stable manure at a rate of 4 rounded shovelfuls per mound along with one round shovelful of well composted poultry manure. Do not place on the mound! Scatter around the perimeter of the mound.

Tilling for weed control is good as long as there is access in the patch. Hand weed everything else. Limit walking and compacting the soil. Limit handling and disturbing the vines. Once the patch is covered with vines stay out. Resist the urge to walk through the vines and even pull weeds. Some weeds in the patch will not affect the melons at all. Compacting the soil will.

When Bradford Watermelons reach full size and a rich lustrous solid green, begin checking for ripeness. In South Carolina, it’s about 85 days from planting. There is a small tendril just opposite the stem. When it turns brown, and withered, it is a few days of being ripe. The thump test is the best way to tell after the tendril turns. It should sound solid when thumped. Immature melons have an echo sound like ping-ping. Ripe melons have a dull flat sound like punk-punk.

I have been growing our Bradford Family Watermelon for more than 30 years. I still learn more every year. Allow yourself to make some mistakes and learn as well. The joy of growing a Bradford Watermelon from seed to a 40 pound fruit, though challenging, is hard to beat and well worth the reward!

Good luck!

Nat Bradford
7th generation Bradford Family Watermelon Farmer

Articles About Bradford Family Watermelon

Additional information

Weight 3 g


34 reviews for Bradford Family Watermelon

  1. 3 out of 5


    The Bradford Family Watermelon is passing germination tests at Clemson University with greater than 90% success. However, this heirloom has been grown and saved on the same farm for over 100 years, so specific environmental conditions could affect germination. This is a rare seed being reintroduced to the home gardener and we encourage you to grow and save your own stock for regional adaptation. The Bradford Watermelon is now being successfully grown all over the USA, we welcome and encourage you feedback!

    ***I’ve given 3 stars as not to affect the customer review rating, but I’ve eaten this watermelon and it’s a definite 5 star taste experience!***

    Sow True Seed

  2. 2 out of 5


    I suppose you can never know why one might have a bad experience, but in Southern California, with mild weather in April, I had a heck of a type getting these seeds to sprout. I planted 9 of them on a hill and only 1 took. I planted 6 sugar baby seeds left over from last year on the hill next to it and all 6 germinated – plus one I did not even know I had dropped a couple feet away. The one that popped up has been growing strong but wish I had at least one extra plant. I will try again next year germinating in a starter tray.

  3. 1 out of 5

    (verified owner):

    I too am an experience melon grower and I failed too get a single seed to sprout. Planted in prime soil in central Texas in the 3rd week of May. I just sent an email requesting a replacement. These melons sound wonderful and at a dollar a seed we should expect a crop.

  4. 2 out of 5


    I have also had a hard time with my Bradford seeds in NC. Split a pack with my father-in-law neither of us have had any plants to sprout since planting 3 weeks back. Bought an extra pack for my Uncle’s garden he planted his this past week hopefully some of his will come up.

  5. 1 out of 5

    (verified owner):

    I bought some of these to see if they lived up to the hype and like the reviewer before me I had horrible germination rates. My packet came with 12 seeds and not a single one took. After having no trouble with other seeds from this company and 1000s others I’ve planted this spring I would not recommend anyone wasting their money on these seeds.

  6. 1 out of 5


    Zero germination. Could be my fault. Planted them in a starter tray outside in June, thought I kept them properly watered. I may try again next year.

  7. 5 out of 5


    I grew several plants in upstate South Carolina, and had no problems. It grew well even in our clay soil (with some amendments, of course). We got a couple of melons that were deliciously sweet, although not as large as the ones the Bradfords grow. The melon had plenty of wonderful seeds that I was able to dry and save for future plantings.

  8. 5 out of 5


    Nate- I am very pleased with the results to this point. I purchased 20 seeds and happy to report 100% germination! We reside in Alabama and decided to plant in well drained sandy soil and dressed with aged horse manure. So far so good with 5 beautiful hills a couple with softball size mellons.
    Gary Lewis

  9. 5 out of 5


    We haven’t gotten any ripe melons yet, but they are doing well. We got about 75% germination. There are 10 to twelve melons, probably more because they are hard to see under all the vines and leaves. I planted 3 hills with a couple of plants in each. I’ll come back and let you know more when we have eaten one.

  10. 5 out of 5


    If you haven’t had a Bradford melon, you are definitely missing out. They are nothing like the round balls called watermelons in most grocery stores today. By far the best and sweetest watermelon I have ever had.
    This is my first time growing the seeds in my own garden. Germinated about 16 seeds, all but one or two made it to seedlings. I picked about 6 of the best and planted them in my very small garden. Had to trim back to the best three and from there they took off. My girls call affectionately call it “the jungle.” Right now I have 3 melons, each about 10-12″ long getting bigger by the day. There are a few other late bloomers that I hope will make it but not so sure.
    I am a very inexperienced gardener and consider myself lucky to get anything to grow or escape being dug up by the dog. I was very careful to follow the instructions with the seeds as best I could, fertilized with some old horse manure, and I feel that has made all the difference.
    Looking forward to enjoying the ripe melons later this summer.

  11. 5 out of 5


    I planted 40 Bradford Melon seeds on the first day of June. My soil is Rosalo fine sandy loam in the upper Piedmont of North Carolina. I had a 95% germination rate. The plants are growing strong and the melons are now approximately 10″ long. I am very pleased with their progress and will post another rating after harvest.

  12. 1 out of 5


    Seeds have been in the ground for two weeks now, with no sign of germination. I followed the planting and watering instructions , and the weather has been perfect. My garden has grown everything from tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, lettuce, beans, etc… for more than forty years. Must be a problem with the seeds.

  13. 3 out of 5

    (verified owner):

    also 0 for 12 on germination in soil blocks. company replaced the pack so I will try again in 2017…

  14. 5 out of 5


    I planted a bunch last spring – started some indoors in April, some in the ground 2nd week of May. I’m in WNC, so we have cooler nights.

    They did not start very vigorously. Grew slower than the crimson sweet from the previous year. But they exploded at the 2 month mark and took over the field. I got dozens of melons. I only culled a few, but those plants yeilded 40+ pound melons. They were very sweet, softer fleshed melons. They were not ripe when the tendril/small leaves dried out – i found they were best 3-7 days AFTER THE tendril was found dried up.

    Very good melon. Certainly not mushy, just not crisp.

  15. 3 out of 5


    I wonder if anyone has tried physical seed scarification to combat this germination problem aka using some sandpaper to wear away a small portion of the seed coat so as to allow water in and the sprout out?

    • :

      Hi Hilary – this may help and it’s worth a go, however the challenges seem to be environmental because on the Bradford farm and with externalized germination testing, the seeds are 90%+ for germination, and many people have similar success, while some people have poor success.

  16. 1 out of 5

    (verified owner):

    Couldn’t get any to germinate last year (2016) out of 24 planted in May, June, and July in eastern Mass, though all my other melons & squash came up well (kabocha, cantaloupe, 3 varieties of pumpkin). Gonna give it another try this year in a more controlled environment (start indoors, tend carefully in pots on the porch). Fingers crossed!

  17. 1 out of 5

    (verified owner):

    I have zero seeds germinate indoors or outdoors. I have planted in sandy loam that has been raising watermelons for many, many years and no sprouts at all. I suspect they were not put up right because a few volunteer watermelons are up already next to where i planted these. i will order some more and try again.

  18. 4 out of 5


    As per instructions I waited until June 1st (I’m in zone 7a) to plant directly outside and 6 of my 10 seeds germinated. I lost one plant to a critter, but of the remaining 5 plants they were healthy and spread all over the garden. I culled the melons down to the three earliest per plant, and they grew huge! They were by far the most delicious melons I’ve ever eaten, and I saved the seed from the melons of the three healthiest plants. I expect my saved seed will be even more vigorous for me on my farm. Can’t wait to grow (read: eat) them again this year!

  19. 1 out of 5


    I started indoors this year and none germinated. I wrote to the company and their response was not satisfying. They basically said that i had to wait until the soil temperature was 80 degrees. Well, these are the conditions I have in my greenhouse. I think there must be a problem with their processing of the seeds.

    • :

      Hi Nina, I’m sorry you didn’t get any seeds to germinate. It sounds like you had the right soil temperature. The seeds are passing an independent germination test at above 90%, so the processing of the seeds is not the problem. However, some growers (like yourself) are experiencing low to no germination. Until only a few years ago the seeds have only been grown and saved in a very limited geographic region and perhaps that over-specialization has resulted in some unknown requirement. I know this is a frustrating thought, we hope that as more seeds are grown and saved in new areas (lots of people are having success) then the watermelon will once again be successful all over the country. If you haven’t already, please email to register your problems.

  20. 5 out of 5


    Best watermelon I’ve ever eaten in my entire life…and I’ve been eating them for almost 30 yrs! My family enjoys growing these every year. The trick is to not plant too early and avoid soaking will kill the seed. These are desert crops that love 80 degree soil temps, so water only once at planting and wait until they come out the ground. Your patience will be rewarded with juicy goodness!

  21. 5 out of 5


    I love this Watermelon! All of the products are amazing. As for growing the seeds, the main thing to do is FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS! I’ve learned that the hard way! If you do everything according to what they say, you will succeed. I want to know how to grow the awarermelon Rind Pickles. LOL.

  22. 5 out of 5


    Wonderful melon! The flesh is so sweet, the rind makes great pickle but also can be eaten like cucumber. You must read and follow instructions. Do not plant too early. This melon grows for a long season. It is a very late harvest.

  23. 1 out of 5


    I had only 3 plants germinate from 24 seeds – not a very good rate.

    • :

      Hi Robert, it would be great to know where you are growing. With the reintroduction of this seed to the wider area it is our hope that from your three plants you can save seed for the plants that do well in your area. It has been our experience that next your seeds will already be better adapted for your area. I know 3 out of 24 is frustrating, but with 90%+ germination at Clemson University we are assuming there are some regional challenges to overcome. Please check back with an opinion of the fruit quality and taste and let us know if it was worth it! We appreciate your time and efforts.

  24. 5 out of 5

    (verified owner):

    Haven’t tasted a watermelon yet but I had 100% germination rate with my seeds in Charleston, SC. The plants are growing strong and are flowering so I hope to see watermelons any day now.

  25. 4 out of 5

    (verified owner):

    I am located in Ky. I have experience in growing cantaloupes and watermelon and never have problems with seed. I had a 40% germination with these. I dug up several seeds that did not sprout and it appears to me as some of the seed never was fertile and are hollow inside. Perhaps they are not floating the seed and saving all of it. Some people receive a lot of good seed while others receive mostly bad. Just my thoughts.

  26. 5 out of 5


    So far so good. I bought a dozen seeds. Planted 6 on Memorial day. One week later…100% germination. I soaked them in water for about 12 hours and planted them. Loamy soil–>1/3 sand, 1/3 Erth Food, 1/3 top soil mix. Watered in pretty deep on day 1. Did not touch them for a week. Judging by review dates, I think some folks on here are planting too early. Measure your soil temps. I was north of 80* and air temps were mid/high 80s. Even indoors, you are likely not there unless you have a heating mat.

  27. 1 out of 5


    Has anyone tried to grow them in Central Florida (zone 9)? Only added rating to make this question fly.

    • :

      They love a long hot growing season, but interested in specific feedback.

  28. 5 out of 5


    Has anyone had success growing these in New York?

  29. 4 out of 5


    I live in the northwest…our summers are not extremely hot here…perhaps milder than other parts of the country ….wondering if they will grow in milder climates??

    • :

      Nat Bradford say, ‘2013 was cool and wet. We had great success. Very few days above 80s. Overcast a lot that summer.’

  30. 5 out of 5


    Started my seeds indoors in a loose loamy seed starter. Moved them outside here in SE PA about a month ago. The plants have really taken off and are just now putting out fruit flowers. Hoping to carry some through to maturity.

  31. 5 out of 5


    First, I want to say that I did not buy seeds from Sow true, I saved seeds from the two melons I got from Nat. I’ve not grown Watermelon before, so I was careful to follow Nat’s instructions. I live in Upstate South Carolina, near Pickens, so my soil is very heavy clay. I have a garden plot that I have been amending with peat and compost for four years, plus I grow cover crops in the winter, red clover. I started a few seeds in late April in my Greenhouse without any supplemental heat or mats and got maybe 75% germination. I chose the strongest plants and planted in hills as directed, with a nice deposit of compost deep within the hill. The rest of my hills I direct planted the seed, those I got about 90% germination, I planted these on May 10. At one point I was concerned as I didn’t seem to be getting any female flowers pollinated, I plan next year to plant some companion flowers on the border of the garden to see if that may help. We had a dry spell so I began to water every other day. Things really took off the third week of July. I now have 14+ melons at various state of growth and as the rains have come back I’ve stopped watering. Several melons are now in the 10-12 inch range and all seem to be growing daily. I have to admit that towards the end of June I nearly lost the patch due to weeds as I fell behind in that duty. But I got some help and a tiller running and cleaned things up and laid down a good mat of straw, which I should have done earlier. All in all I just want to encourage people to try growing these melons, as you will never taste a sweeter melon and the history makes it a worthwhile endeavor, but you have to mind your soil temps, it can be hard to wait so late to plant them. Also, I think it’s pretty important to feed them as Nat suggests.

  32. 5 out of 5

    (verified owner):

    This was our first year growing watermelons (on purpose, at least). We direct-seeded three different varieties in mid-April. The Bradford turned out to be our favorite. This watermelon is very sweet, yet still has excellent flavor. I plan to try a few different varieties next year, but the Bradford will definitely be in the mix. Most of our Bradfords have been in the 25-30 pound range, but we have had several 35 pounders and one 48 pounder! We have had watermelon coming out our ears since middle July and the plants are still setting fruit! The hardest part is waiting patiently for them to ripen and then deciding on the right time to pick.

  33. 3 out of 5


    I planted 10 seeds, 2 hills of 5 seeds each. Then, it rained and rained and rained. We had 16 inches of rain over a 2 month period here in NW Arkansas. I had only 3 seeds germinate in these horrible conditions. 1 plant died and 1 was pulled up by a crow. The remaining plant has really flourished though. It has currently produced 6 melons that are all over 30 pounds and the largest weighed in at 40. So, why the low rating? The melons certainly aren’t “the sweetest melons the south has ever seen”. They’re not even the sweetest watermelons in my patch. I have a refractometer and the best Bradford so far has measured a brix reading of 11.0. For comparison I had a Raspa that measured 13.2. My last Bradford barely touched 10.0. To be fair, August here has been abnormally cool and wet, but all of my melons grew in the same weather. To be sure, 6 melons over 30 pounds is impressive production from just 1 plant, but who cares if the melons are just average? I saved some seed and I’ll likely give the Bradford one more shot next year, but this year’s crop was very disappointing flavor wise.

  34. 3 out of 5

    (verified owner):

    I am in NE Florida and I was just curious to see if I could grow them. I planted 3 seeds in 5 gallon buckets and my backyard is completely covered with vines. I have counted 4 melons with one being about a foot long and blooms everywhere. I am excited to try one so I will post again as soon as one ripens. 🙂

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