I hope you have all had a wonderful weekend. Today, it is raining, so I haven’t been out to the garden yet. I’ll probably head over there a little later to check on our plants, but for now, I’m inside, out of the rain.
First of all, I’d like to give a great big shout out to everyone who has helped us thus far. We have One Book people, ISEN people, Norris people, Facilities people, and so many more! Thanks for your help making this garden become a reality. We never could have done it without you. Here’s a picture from our party last week!
Top Row L-R: Molly Hoisington, Adrienne Wuellner, Thea Klein-Mayer, Jane Wuellner, Rick Thomas, Nick Cuny, Claudia Wyss, Ann Ziegelmaier Bottom Row L-R: Becky Penskar, Mike Shine, Kevin Kelly, Jeff Henderson, John Savage
Thanks for your help everyone!
Back to our normal research and report style of blogging: I did a bit of research on watermelons! First of all, and most importantly (I think you’ll all agree), August 3rd is National Watermelon Day. Mark your calendars!
I’d also like to draw your attention to the most awesome contest in the world. The Watermelon Carving Contest!
Please tell me you love this as much as I do!
Now down to business:
Watermelon (we have a watermelon patch under one of the pear trees on the south side of the garden, we have 4 plants in there)
Watermelon is a tender, sweet, warm-season fruit (it is 90% water!). Watermelons can be grown in all parts of the country, but the warmer temperatures and longer growing season of southern areas especially favor watermelons. They are not the most hardy of fruits, so the soil must be kept warm and they do need special care. (Info from University of Illinois Extension)
Watermelon is thought to have originated in southern Africa. Some believe it was cultivated in the Nile Valley as early as the 2nd Millennium BC and seeds were found in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. By the 10th century AD, the fruit was being grown in China, from whence it traveled to Europe.
However, in Vietnam, they have a different story. They believe that watermelon was discovered in their country long before the seeds made it to China. “According to legend, watermelon was discovered by Prince Mai An Tiem, an adopted son of the 11th Hung King. When he was exiled unjustly to an island, he was told that if he could survive for six month, he would be allowed to return. When he prayed for guidance, a bird flew past and dropped a seed. He cultivated the seed and called its fruit ‘dura tay’ or western melon, because the bird who ate it flew from the west…” (Info from Wikipedia: Watermelon).
Some say watermelon seeds were given to Native Americans as early as the 1500s. The fruit was found in the Mississippi Valley by early French explorers. Some say watermelons were brought to Massachusetts in the 1600s, others say the seeds were brought by African slaves.
Now watermelons are grown all over the world and in 44 US states, with Georgia, Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona being the largest producers. Farmers grow disease resistant varieties and even grow fun shapes!
The tasty seedless watermelons that we are all familiar with are self-sterile hybrids that develop normal fruits but no developed seeds. The seeds used to grow seedless watermelons are produced by “crossing a normal diploid watermelon with one that has been changed genetically into the tetraploid state. The seeds from this cross produce plants that, when pollinated by normal plants, produce seedless melons.” Fancy!
Because seedless types do not put energy into seed production, the flesh is often sweeter than normal types and the vines are noticeably more vigorous as the season progresses.
A watermelon patch should be kept free of weeds to reduce competition. The roots are very deep and the plant seldom needs watering unless the weather is very very hot and dry.
It can be difficult to tell when your watermelons are ready for harvest. In order to be sure the fruit is ripe, check these things: the green tendrils on the stem should be dry and brown. The outside of the fruit should no longer be shiny, it should be dull. The skin should be rough to the touch, not permeable by fingernails. Finally, the bottom of the melon should be lighter green or even yellowing. These tests are more reliable than tapping on the melon.
Wow, who knew all that weird stuff about watermelons! I hope I’ve made you hungry for tasty sweet watermelons!