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A Dartford farm has produced the largest ever batch of British-grown watermelons, here’s where you can buy them

PUBLISHED: 11:16 14 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:16 14 September 2017

Joe Cottingham from Watts Farm, which has produced 1,000 watermelons for sale at five Asda stores

Joe Cottingham from Watts Farm, which has produced 1,000 watermelons for sale at five Asda stores

Archant

The fruit is selling for £3

The British climate has failed to dampen a Dartford farm’s growing spirit as it produced 1,000 watermelons this year.

Typically grown in warmer parts of Europe, the batch has been cultivated in poly tunnels with insulated soil at Watts Farm, to create a warm environment for them to grow.

Joe Cottingham from the farm on Sandpit Road admitted the harvest took “lots of trial work”.

He said: “Last year we trialled 20 or 30 different types of watermelon, learnt how to grow them and learnt the potential challenges too.

“We selected the two varieties which we felt performed best in our trials and that’s what we’ve been growing this year.

“Normally I’d say it’s becoming possible to grow watermelons in Britain because we’re getting slightly hotter temperatures in the summer, although that’s changed in the last few weeks as we’ve had abysmal weather, but the weather was kinder in May and June which meant we could get the crop established.”

The batch was sold to supermarket giants Asda, which is now selling the home-grown fruit at five of its stores, including ones in Bexleyheath, Swanley and Tunbridge Wells, for £3.

A spokesperson from the supermarket chain added: “The juicy melons mark the largest volume of watermelons ever produced on home soil.

“With only 1,000 available, shoppers in these areas will be amongst some of the first in the country to be able to taste British-grown watermelons.”

Mr Cottingham, who has been at Watts Farm since 2000, added: “Because they’re new they haven’t been called anything yet so are just serial numbers at the moment – though we’re open to suggestions. If customers like them and we decide to grow more next year we’ll be better at growing them than we’ve been this year. Growing is a learning process – you never really nail it, and you learn little by little.

“The main reaction we’ve been getting from people when they discover the watermelons were grown in Kent is one of surprise. We’ve had them in the office and everyone’s been trying them.

“People say they taste really good. As far as I’m aware no-one else in Britain is growing watermelons, so it’s great to be at the vanguard of something new.”

Less than one per cent of Asda stores nationwide will be selling the fruit, which is available at:

Bexleyheath on Broadway

Swanley on London Road

Tunbridge Wells on Longfield Road

Clapham on Lavender Hall

Beckton on Tollgate Road

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