Happy Hallo…Watermelon?

It’s that time of year when all things scary, mysterious and morbid get to take center stage for an evening of haunted delight.  The days are cooling and we are turning our attention to all things orange and black and our taste buds are particularly attuned to flavors of fall…pumpkin, apple, cinnamon… so is anybody thinking about watermelon?  My guess is not!

However if you live in an Intermountain climate (Zone 6) where watermelons go in the ground in mid-may but don’t get a strong growth rhythm established, including flowers and pollination, until late June you may also just now be harvesting pumpk, er…watermelons!

Sure, we could have/would have celebrated this refreshing fruit (made of 92% water ) a bit more during one of the dehydrating 95+ degree days that are standard in July and August but not all things can be timed perfectly.  So, we’re enjoying our “watermelon days” right alongside apple pie and pumpkin-spice lattes!

Growing your own watermelon is really fun for it is one of those edibles that still seems to be a bit of a novelty in the home garden and evokes a certain amount of mystery.  Maybe this is because watermelons can take quite a bit of space so not as popular of a choice or maybe because there is a healthy amount of “unpredictability” surrounding when a watermelon is ripe to perfection.

Whatever the reason, I’ve had fun growing a couple of varieties in my raised beds this year.  Both smaller in size (5-7 lbs) and when harvested at the right time deliciously sweet and juicy.

I like to grow watermelons because they are very easy and the foliage is quite attractive.  They do require some room but don’t require maintenance.  I locate a plant in the corner of a raised bed (a new spot each year) and let it sprawl over the sides into the pea gravel area of the edible garden and really don’t do anything else (with the exception of watering) until harvest time approaches.

Harvest time…now this is when it gets mysterious.  What is the trick to knowing when a watermelon is ready for harvest?  If you know, please share!

I have googled for this information.  I have followed advice about waiting until the stem that is attached to the vine turns brown, waiting until there is a light spot on the bottom side of the melon, or waiting until the melon easily “pops off” the vine when moved. But to me it is still a difficult riddle.

This year I tried waiting for the stem to turn brown and I moved the melons to see if they would “pop off” the vines but no luck and as a result several of the melons I finally cut into were overripe so the flesh was soft and mushy.

Not all was lost though for there were still several others that as soon I made the first cut and heard the sharp “crackle” I knew would be fantastic.  

Yes, as far as I know there’s some mystery surrounding watermelon harvesting so maybe it’s okay after all to have HalloWatermelons!

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