melon


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Watermelon Citrullus lanatus, my F1 hybrid (Sugar Baby x White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon).

Today we ate the first watermelon, 3kg.
It was sweet, but seeds were not all mature, so a few more days had perhaps made it even better. I also think the rind is very thick.
For me, watermelon ripeness is bit of a mystery. It does not smell aromatic, so there must be something else to look for.

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Tendril

On the clever internet, I have read that you should harvest watermelon when the tendril closest to the stalk wither. This seems to be the case.

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Yellow spot

Elsewhere on the clever internet, I have read that the bright spot where the watermelon is resting on the ground, should change colour to yellow. This has happened, but exactly how yellow should the yellow be??

One should also be able to tap and listen. I did too, and this watermelon had a much deeper quiet sound than the obvious immature watermelons crisp bright tones. But for us who do not have absolute pitch, it’s a bit difficult.

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Fresh watermelon seeds

The last method I haven’t seen on the internet. The seeds ought to be mature when the watermelon is ripe. It doesn’t seem to be the case here. Pity I couldn’t see the seeds before I harvested the watermelon.

It is easy to collect and clean the seeds. Spit them into a bowl when eating the watermelon. Afterwards, rinse them in clean water, so they’re ready to dry in a thin layer on a plate.

Will the seeds germinate next year? I believe in the darkest of the seeds will, but the lighter are probably not mature enough. I have to wait and see.


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Watermelons in the greenhouse.
Top row from left: My own F1 hybrid (Sugar Baby x White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon), Skorospelyi Saharnyi, Ultra Skorospelyi.
Bottom row: All are the cultivar Bonanza

This year I decided to spend more space on the water melons in the greenhouse. Actually I would prefer to grow them outside, but it was not to be this year. I still have much to learn about watermelons, to understand them just roughly. Must they always be hand pollinated? Or do the bees just need to be presented enough watermelon flowers, so they learn to appreciate the taste of their nectar and pollen?

One thing I observed this year is that on the coldest days, my hand pollination did not succeed, on hot days a single attempt apparently was good enough. It might be a problem to achieve high enough temperatures for pollination outdoors.
I am also a little curious about female and male flowers sequence on the vine. It looks like some of the varieties and my own hybrid is early with the first female flowers, while other varieties may only bring a female flowers farther out on the vine. All varieties have been pretty quick to open the male flowers.

So far my own F1 hybrid is the earliest and has grown to the largest size. But it is far too early to guess which plant will be first to mature its fruit. I’ve only been able to get a single plant to set two watermelons, and the upper one is now virtually stalled in development, at the size of a tangerine. They tend to fall off before they reach that size if they do not develop, so I am curious what will happen. All the other plants have only set one watermelon each.

Thanks to all you kind garden friends who have send me watermelon seeds!


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Farthest North Melon Mix (Cucumis melo)

This post should have been written a month ago – her it comes anyway :-)

This year, the melons was grown according to the dogma. Not out of desire, but of necessity. The fact that some melons developed to ripeness are a bit of a miracle in this rainy summer.

The two dogma rules are:
1-Sow directly in the open ground, no indoor start! The melons were sown 5th June. The other years I have sown on 1st May inside the warm house.
2-No cover, no plastic or non-woven fabrics. No black plastic on the ground to heat it up. No plastic or fabric covering the plants at the beginning of their growth or later, when the weather gets cold.

Especially one plant thrived, even grew faster and bigger than my winter squash Turks Turban plants (They did not like the cold weather). It set four fruits, each weighing nearly 250 grammes and and of good taste, though not spectacular. But great taste I can not expect after such a rainy August. The taste was better than most supermarket melons anyway.

I sowed 47 batches of 6 seeds, 41 batches Farthest North Melon Mix, the last 6 batches were Sweet Granite, Pineapple Melon, Streit Freiland Grüngenetz, Rodond, Piel de Sapo and De Bellegarde (12 seeds). Although the last 6 batches all resulted in 1-2 plants, I had no ripe melon from them.
Farthest North Melon Mix had 21 batches not germinated. 14 batches germinated 1-4 plants, but provided no ripe melons. 6 batches germinated 17 plants, many of whom produced ripe melons, but not all. In total I harvested 17 melons growing according to the dogma method – I was too pessimistic in June!

To squeeze in that many melon plants, I provided only 20 cm for 6 seeds.

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Some of the melons of the year, still resting on the bed


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Melon (Cucumis melo) Farthest North Melon Mix

For a while I have seen the delicate yellow male flowers in the melon bed. Today I spotted two tiny melons. Withered female flowers still attached. The dense hair is very good protection at night, when snails and slugs creep close by.

A few melon plants grow very strongly, outranking the squash sown same date. Others are still small plants. This year I sowed directly on 5th of June. It has obviously been good for the most vigorous melon plants.

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Melon bed with Farthest North Melon Mix

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One and a half month ago the melons germinated in cold weather, hails lying around


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Day lily petal hailed to the ground

Yesterday I returned home just after a hail had passed. It was larger hail than I normally get, and a lot of them. I grabbed the camera, the injured day lily petal was beautifully resting in the hails.

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Garlic and hail

The garlic suffered no damage to the leaves. Just had a winterly look :-)

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Artichoke leaf with hail damage

The large artichoke leaves got a lot of holes in them. Still, I don’t expect it’ll influence the harvest.

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Lettuce with hail damage

The lettuce probably had the worst damage to their fragile leaves. Plants are still young, and new leaved will grow perfect. Slugs are a greater threat to them.

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Melon seedling and hail

I’m most troubled by the few melon seedlings. I sowed the melons on 5th. of June, with a perfect warm and sunny weather forecast. The forecast was wrong, weather cold, and indoor we had to heat the house and dress warmly. The very few seedling I found cuddled with ice balls! If I harvest any outdoor melons this year, it’s a small miracle. And if they have useful seeds, my melon breeding work is doing better than I could hope for. Probably just a dream.

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Spruce and hail

Decorative they were, the hails by the sheared Norway spruce.
All in all a great experience of weather and garden.


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Melon harvest of the day

Now the melon harvest peak. After a cold start in june, it has been a warm summer for the melons. Now every day some will loosen at the slightest touch, ready to harvest. Some days onlythree, other days more, like seven, and then comes a day like today – I needed a box for the harvest.

Like last year I grow Farthest North Melon Mix. A lot of very early varieties crossed up by good people in USA. Most of the plants set ripe fruits in my garden. In older posts you can read how I grow my melons. A one hour drive south of my garden, Merete from Vild med have grow the same melon mix. (text in danish, but lots of photos)

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Farthest North Melon Mix

It is obvious, that each plant is an individual when you study the melons. Some small, others tiny. Some very delicious, some boring and a few with an unpleasant taste. The idea is that every grower of this melon mix select an original variety suited to the microclimate of the garden. It can be done very quickly, saving seeds from the very best melon every year. I intend to do it slowly, as it gives me the possibility to select for more of the traits I find desirable. I probaly don’t even want to create a new variety, but a race with desired variation. I find it very charming, when there’s a differences between melons from different plants, I just want them all to taste gorgous and grow on a well behaved robust plant, even in a less than perfect summer in open ground in my north west european climate.

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Vatermelon (Citrullus lanatus)

This year we had a beautiful watermelon from the greenhouse. Not huge, but still weighing 2,7 kg. It ripened well, flesh matured a nice red color. Nice taste, sweet, but not too sweet.

It grew on a plant from the watermelon cross I made last year between ‘Sugar Baby’ and
‘White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon’. It’s my own F1 hybrid. The seeds I harvest will be F2, and thus segregating out, each seed having a unique recombination of the genes. With some luck, some of the offspring might even do better in my greenhouse than any of their parents.
It’s no secret, that I’m inspired by Carol Deppe and Glenn Drowns (who developed the watermelon Blacktail Mountain)

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The same watermelon on juli 21.th.

This year I noticed, that there was only set the watermelons I pollinated by hand.

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Watermelon ‘White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon’ (Citrullus lanatus)

This year I had four watermelon plants in the greenhouse, each providing a single watermelon. Three of the ‘White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon’. I aquired it some years ago from a christian-assyrian refugee settled in Sweden. This year it didn’t grow as big or ripe as red as first time I grew it. Probably because of the rainy august. To my surprise it was just as sweet, crisp and juicy as last time. The seeds of this variety is also used, roasted with salt as a snack. Some seedsavers tasted it, and they preferred the large seeds to the small and undeveloped seeds of the modern seedless varieties, as the large seeds are much more easy to spit out. Should be great for a watermelon spitting contest.

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Watermelon ‘Sugar Baby’ (Citrullus lanatus)

For comparison I also had ‘Sugar Baby’ in the greenhouse. It’s the seedrack variety around here. I didn’t grow quite as well, but ripened a week earlier. It was a plant bought at the nursery (last minute idea to compare), not completely fair to compare. It was more close to being truly ripe, but tasted no better than ‘White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon’.

As ‘White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon’ are rare, I have to grow the seeds myself. It’s actually easy, as the seeds are ready for drying when I spit them out savouring the watermelon. To avoid ‘Sugar Baby’ becoming the father, I picked all its male flowers before they opened (one of these small jobs one have to be particular about). This also lead to all seeds in ‘Sugar Baby’ to be crossed with ‘White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon’. Possibly an interesting cross. First generation (F1) might have unique properties, but the will recombine in future generations. If growing out a lot of F2 generation seeds, I might be lucky to select a new varity worth growing, by selecting in further generations. If the first generation is excellent, I might grow it for years, before starting to grow next generation.

In between it’s important to take a year for gathering seeds of the original ‘White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon’, to avoid its extinction. I have send seeds out in the world, but I’m not aware of anyone adopting it. I think I was expected to adopt it as I recieved the original seeds.

Take a look at the post Watermelon in progress

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Melon, fig and sour cherries

After enjoying a lot of melons we need a little variation. The figs could also do with a new touch. Inspired by the newly aquired “Melons for the passionate grower” by Amy Goldman, I made this combination – half a melon with porto in the seed cave, surrounded by fresh figs and sour cherries in their syrup, mmm…

Guess I never mentioned our sour cherry tree, a clone named Vicky. It’s from the area of Stevns, where sour cherries has been a traditional crop for centuries. Trees would renew, both by seed and suckers – the whole area being a diverse genepool. Every now and then professional growers will find a new clone they propagate for their plantations and for homegardeners.

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Melon no.17

Today we will enjoy the largest melon yet, weight 510g. Not a big melon, but a giant in this garden. I start to doubt, if this big, something must be wrong. It will probably taste horrible. Better try it out at once.

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Melon no.17

It is nettet with orange flesh. To my surprise taste is gorgous! Probably 2 or 3 have tasted better, but out of 17 melons, that’s still a top rate. Seeds looks mature, it will probably breed well in future generations.
This grex, Farthest North Melon Mix, has really impressed me, and pushed the limits for melon growing. Yet another thank you to SeedAmbassadors !

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