Thursday, August 22, 2013

Watermelon

As I mentioned in my "Growing Peppers" post, I grew watermelons for the first time this year. I went into this endeavor not really knowing what to expect and a little bit skeptical about the outcome. All-in-all, we had a horrible gardening season this year. None of our crops (corn, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers) did that well, so I did not have high hopes for our watermelons. Let me tell you...we hit the jackpot! (And by "jackpot", I mean we have successfully grown one, delicious watermelon:)


Vining Watermelon Plant

I purchased a couple small watermelon plants from a local greenhouse, and planted them in mid-May. We watched the plant vine its way throughout the garden bed during June. Finally in early July, the vine began flowering (a male and female flower) and cute, little melons began growing. 

Rotten Watermelon
Young Melon
Much to my dismay, I started with about a dozen baby melons and was left with only three after something (perhaps a bug or insufficient pollination???) caused the remaining fruits to shrivel up and die. I desperately wanted to see these three petite gourds thrive!

Ripe Melon
Finally, one hot day last week in mid-August, the day had arrived to pick my first watermelon. I prepared for this day by scouring the internet to make sure I would pick a ripe melon. I really didn't want to cut the stem and slice it open only to find a white, under-ripe fruit. (I learned that melons do not ripen after you pick them, so once you cut the stem, it's a done deal.) I probably would have cried after all that work and such failure with the rest of the garden. From what I researched, here are a few ways to tell if your watermelon is ripe:

  • The bottom of the watermelon should be a yellow or creamy color, not white. 
  • When you tap the melon, it should sound like a "thump", not hollow. 
  • The curly-cue (or pig tail) next to the watermelon's stem should be brown and dead. 
  • The melon should feel heavier than it appears. 

Check, check, check, and check. My melon satisfied all of those requirements, so I took the kitchen shears (as I also read that you should cut the melon and not pull or pick it) and headed for the garden. Feel free to watch the exciting [note sarcasm:)] live footage of me picking the fruit from my garden:


I took the giant melon in the house and cut her open. Boy o' boy was I ever excited...we have a winner!



Here's some more footage of me cutting into the watermelon. I know you're just dying to see! ;)



I must admit that it was a little weird eating a watermelon with seeds. I can't remember the last time that's happened since all the watermelons in the store are seedless these days. Despite the minor annoyance of seed spitting (but really, isn't that the fun part?), there is nothing like letting the juice drip down your chin from eating a freshly picked watermelon in August. This really was the sweetest, juiciest melon I ate all year. Happy summer!
My husband made the perfect analogy after picking our very first watermelon. Our garden was like a game of golf, and this watermelon was our hole-in-one. Even though we had a really crumby round of golf (i.e., we had horrible success with our garden this year), that one hole-in-one (i.e., the lone watermelon) made us say, "yep...we'll be doing that again". Here's to more hole-in-ones!  
I kept a few seeds from our watermelon and dried them in hopes of planting a few watermelons from seed next year. We'll see how that little adventure turns out. Stay tuned...