Now that we’ve moved to a hot, dry climate, we couldn’t wait to grow melons – watermelons and canteloupes. We even bought a popsicle-making kit to handle the harvest overflow (Gigi loves watermelon popsicles). All our melon seeds were purchased at the Seed Bank in Petaluma.
Alas, not all the melons we planted produced sweet, juicy fruit we had anticipated. And despite the incredible vigor of these plants, we did not get as much fruit as we had hoped (so much for those popsicles). Here’s our Plangarden raised bed layout that shows what we planted.
“Far North”, suggests that it can be grown in higher latitudes that have shorter growing seasons. Our patch first produced fruit in early July. They looked beautiful. Perhaps we harvested them too late (early- to mid-August), but the puny, starchy canteloupes were like a hybrid of styrofoam and an Idaho potato. We’d probably try them again next year and see what happens if we harvest them earlier. But these melons are so small, less than single serving, and not really worth the effort.
“Golden Midget” got us all excited. They are beautiful 4-5 lb. watermelons that start out green and then turn deep yellow once they’re ripe. While they were certainly juicy, they lacked any kind of sweetness you’d expect from a home-grown melon. We were sad to admit that the supermarket melons were far superior.
“Honeydew Orange Flesh” was the winner. Biting into the firm, honeydew-type orange flesh feels so sinful – it’s like candy, but not sickeningly sweet. And a close second is “Charentais”, a much smaller fruit with the lighter flesh of a canteloupe.
We had problems trying to start “Sugar Lee” from seed, and unlike the other melons, it took 2-3 attempts to finally get a plant to grow. We have one fruit (just one!) which looks like it’ll be about 8 lbs. The jury’s still out but I doubt this can outdo our winners.
What could we have done wrong with the other melons? Did we overwater them? Perhaps. But how does this account for the success with the other melons? We did start the plants in rich soil with lots of seasoned horse manure, and fertilized them regularly.
If you grew melons this year, let us know which varieties you loved. And we’d appreciate any tips on improving flavor and harvest !