Melons are always a surprise for me every year. In early June we take time to lay down a plastic mulch (this is the only crop we use it on), plant, and water in the plants via the drip line under the mulch. In July we may mulch between the rows some and give the plants water, but I mostly ignore melons until mid August when I think ‘I’d better check if the melons are getting ripe.’
Well, yesterday was the ‘ripeness check’ day. I approached the patch of vines in which the melons themselves sat indistinguishable, hiding in the camouflage. The watermelons I could see on the edge and were small and immature. No dice. I was bracing for a letdown. Until…pulling back the vines in the center of the bed, I struck gold. My goodness! Talk about melon madness! I went from being worried about getting enough to worried about how I’d lug these things out of the field.
One thing about watermelons especially is how to pick the darn things. Everyone thinks we’re out there knocking on the melons like some inquisitive grandma in the supermarket, but that’s not the secret. There are two indicators – a dried down tendril where the stem meets the vine and a light spot where the melon sits on the ground. If both are present, you’re good. At times, one indicator can be present and still be good, depending on the growing season. For example, melons with a pronounced spot are very often ripe even if their tendril is still fresh. After cracking a couple open, you get the feel. All told, however, watermelons are a gamble…you can look for a spot in the store, but I say you just have to trust that the grower to find a good one. And letting a watermelon sit around does nothing for ripeness…melons don’t get sweeter off the vine, just softer.
Whether it’s their hidden ripeness or hiding under vines, melons can be a mystery. And today, when CSA members will receive one of three varieties, the kind you get will also be a mystery! You may find yourself with a pink, yellow, or orange variety, but I’m hoping you find it that sweet taste of the summer nonetheless.
In the box:
- Watermelon: One of three varieties – Yellow ‘Sunshine’, Orange ‘New Orchid, or Pink ‘Crimson Sweet’
- Sweet Corn: Bi-color ‘Allure’ or ‘Montauk’ varieties
- Red Onions
- Red or Yellow Potatoes
- Summer Squash: Either a green or yellow zucchini. See video below for recipe using fresh thyme, also in box.
- Slicing Tomatoes
- Cherry Tomatoes: Luck-of-the-draw. We grow 7 varieties, so maybe Sweet 100’s, Black Cherry, White Cherry, Indego, Artisan, or Nova (an organge grape shaped var)
- Green Pepper
- Colored Pepper
- Fresh Thyme