From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Melon Months of Summer

One good reason for hot weather


I don't like hot summer weather, but melons do, and I like melons. In fact, melons are one of the few things about hot weather that I anticipate happily.

When I had a bigger garden, I grew melons myself. I had my best success with cantaloupe, mainly because it's easy to tell when cantaloupe are ripe. Several years, I grew more cantaloupe than we could eat and Dennis took gave them away at work. This made him quite popular through the melon months of summer.

My favorite cantaloupes to grow from seed were Burpee Hybrids. They are just too delicious for words.

I didn't have enough luck with watermelons to decide that I liked to grow any particular variety. My biggest problem was knowing when to pick them. If I didn't pick them too green, I waited until they were too ripe.  After a few years, I decided I had better luck picking a ripe watermelon at the produce stand.

One summer after I gave up growing watermelons, a watermelon seed sprouted in my compost pile. The vine meandered out into the garden, and I decided not to pull it up. It grew one big, delicious melon before frost. It was one of the best watermelons I've ever tasted.  It must have been the compost. Somehow, I managed to pick it at the perfect peak of ripeness.

In one of my first gardens, I grew some honeydew melons that were particularly green and sweet. I picked the first one and we really enjoyed it .

When I went to the garden to pick the next ripe one, it had a hole chewed in the side of it. I was disgusted, but I cut off the damaged side of the melon, and we ate some of the undamaged side.

My garden intruder liked his taste of honeydew, and decided to have some more. He wasn't a bit careful about just eating the ripe ones, either. After he damaged a dozen or more, I finally caught him in the act. It was a turtle. I took him up the road a mile, and we had no more holes in the honeydews after that.

Nowadays, we buy melons at the grocery store in early summer. Then, about the first of July, our Mennonite neighbor starts selling homegrown cantaloupe at his produce stand.  I bought a couple of cantaloupe there last week, and I'm going to stop by tomorrow on my way home from work and get a couple more. The watermelon will be ready soon, he says. I'm glad to hear it.


Our neighbor's produce stand: Homegrown cantaloupe and 
flower baskets outside. And inside, tomatoes, cabbage,
squash, zucchini, and bunches of big green onions

3 comments:

Mark said...

A friend once grew what I called the Cinderella watermelon in his front yard. We thought it was a volunteer watermelon from some seeds they had spit out on their front porch. It grew nicely through the summer and sprouted what we thought was a very nice watermelon. And then it ripened and turned into a pumpkin.

Collagemama said...

My preschool students are growing a cantaloup vine that sprouted from our vermicompost. There are two good-sized melons on the vine, and we are all very curious how they will taste.

Genevieve said...

I think all the cucurbits are good at seeding themselves. Last year, I left a couple of grossly overripe cucumbers lying on the ground in the garden. Cucumber seedlings sprouted by the dozens this spring in that area.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

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