Category Archives: watermelons

Done…..with planting

We finished planting this weekend, in some of the hottest weather we have seen this early in June. It felt unspeakably hot to be out there yesterday, but we persevered. The tally:

125 Mr. Big Peas
120 Sweet Peas
100 Royal Purple Bush Beans
48 Pole Beans
2nd planting of Sweet corn
7 Sugar Baby watermelon plants
4 Moon & Stars watermelon plants
8 Dill’s Atlantic Giant pumpkins
9 Amish pumpkins (those mysterious pumpkins from the purchase 2 years ago in upstate NY at an Amish farm stand)
8 Jack-Be-Little pumpkins
7 Orange Smoothies

And it look like this:


…..which doesn’t look like much at this point. It joins the sweet potatoes, first corn planting (of a brand called Quickie; we’ll see if it lives up to it’s name) and sunflowers. No edible value to sunflowers, really (well, except the seeds) but we’ve always wanted to grow them so this year we finally got around to planting some.

This year we’ve fenced the entire garden. Last year we only fenced the peas, beans and corn, which worked out fine, but once the pumpkins, watermelons and winter squash had matured, something came through and sampled a little bit out of quite a few of the fruits. Plus, this year we have a turkey. We think it’s a female, but who can tell? (It could be a juvenile male. Only time will tell.) This turkey enjoys walking across the corn, and snoozing in the dirt mounds we created to plant the watermelons, squash and pumpkins. So up went the fence. Which works, because as I was finishing up the watering yesterday she walked out of the brush and right into the fence. Someone unhelpfully pointed out turkeys can fly. We’re hoping the dirt isn’t that appealing to her that she’ll fly over and end up stuck. Or knock the fence over.

The sweet taste of success

Last year we tried, and failed, to grow watermelons.  Our selected brand of choice was Sugar Baby, a small volleyball sized fruit noted for sweetness and quick ripening. One of the major problems of gardening in New England is that sometimes Mother Nature smites you with a frost the second week of September. 

Our plants last year got to be about 8-10″ long, produce a few watermelons the size of golf or tennis balls, then shriveled up, died and rotted.

We were undeterred, however – only after trying something a couple of times and failing will we give up, so we used seeds saved from last year and planted seedlings this year, then transferred the seedlings out to the garden in mid-May.  The plants grew, the fruit grew, and everything seemed to be unmolested by bugs.  Hurrah!

Returning home from vacation this past weekend, we were confronted by basketball-sized fruit, dark green on the outside:

We Googled “how to tell if watermelon is ripe” and learned that you can:

a.)  thump them – if they sound hollow, it is usually ripe;
b.)  look for the spot where the melon rested on the ground – a yellow-white, yellow or a cream-yellow color spot suggests ripeness and a white or pale green spot indicates immaturity. A green watermelon will have a white bottom; a ripe melon will have a cream- or yellow-colored bottom;
c.) check the “pigtail” or tendril closest to the melon on the vine – when begins to shrivel and dry up. If it dries while the leaves and rest of the vine looks good, the melon should be ripe;
d.) crack a few. You’ve got a whole field of watermelons, and you can practice a little, right?

Er, no – we have exactly three watermelons, so the margin of error is non-existent.  Also, there are no pigtail tendrils on our watermelons so we had to rely on a.) and b.) to decide whether or not to pick a watermelon.  I would have let them go a few more days, or probably until next weekend, but J was really eager, and what do I know about yellow-white vs. white anyway?  Better to let him take the shot in the dark and pick it, although cutting it was my responsibility:

The watermelon is not quite as sweet as some we have had but J swears it tastes better because it came from our yard.  I would agree – and you don’t get much fresher than having watermelon with dinner that you picked 20 minutes before.

The remaining 2 watermelons are still out in the patch and will be picked in successive order as soon as they are needed.  We’re calling victory on this one.

“When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat.” – Mark Twain