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.

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

Flattr this

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.

Melon bed with Farthest North Melon Mix

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

Flattr this

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.

Garlic and hail

The garlic suffered no damage to the leaves. Just had a winterly look 🙂

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.

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.

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.

Spruce and hail

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

Flattr this

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.

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

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.

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.

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 !

Fourth melon in 2008

Today I harvested 4 melons in one day. Two complete ripe, two had slippe from the plant, but still ned a day or two to reach perfect ripeness.

The fourth melon is typical for the larger (still small) outdoor melons, weight 262 gram. Surface nettet, flesh orange, sweet and aromatic. Excellent size for two persons.

Fifth melon in 2008

The fifth melon is suitable for a single person. Weight 130 gram, nettet surface, flesh orange, sweet and aromatic. Most of the seeds have not developed, but there are a few that looks excellent.

I clean the seeds in a glas of water overnight, a tiny pinch of enzyme washing powder added. Next day the good seeds have sunk to the bottom, and the floating bad seeds and debris can be discarded. After a last washing in a strainer, they dry on a little plate.

Melon Cucumis melo Farthest North Melon Mix

Yesterday, when admiring all the developing melons, I noticed the oldest had detached from its stem. I dare say it comes off easy when ripe. It smells wonderfull, but I will not eat it yet. Most important is to ensure good seeds for next year. If I leave it to ripen even further, there’s a chance the seeds will grow stronger and collect energy for the next seasons fight for life.

It is early, a month earlier than first melon last year. Weather has been warm and sunny, contrary to last years rainy cold summer. Black plastic mulch probably helped too.

I’m excited to read Meretes blog (in danish, but lots of great pictures) Vild med have, when she will harvest the first melon – can’t be long, as she’s an experienced gardener. She grow the same melon mix – we intend to stabilise a new hardy early variety for our northern gardens. To do that, it’s imperative to harvest vigorous seeds, even at the expense of enjoying the first and best melon in the process.

Watermelon in progress

Fourteen days ago I mourned over the death of a tiny watermelon. Now I have foundt the next, very much alive and much larger, looks very promising. Again it’s the varity ‘White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon’. The conventional ‘Sugar Baby’ bought in the plant center has just opened its first female flower.

Little dead watermelon

This is what happens, and now it happened in our greenhouse. The first lille watermelon has faded away. Why? At the same time a lot of the watermelon flowers also faded away. Now I keep doors open – it could come from humid air. And yea, I do know you (almost) can’t grow watermelons in Denmark. Everybody tells me so, allthough you can find the seeds in any seedrack.
Well, anyone is free to try for themselves.

PS. Two seasons ago it succeeded.