Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Melon Update

It was a busy weekend in the garden spot. The weather turned a bit cooler for a few days….almost fall-like with low humidity and nights in the 50s. Although great for gardening chores and wonderfully comfortable sleeping weather, the cooler night temperatures we not enjoyed by the melon patch. It is beginning to look a bit ragged. I gave all the melons a shot of fish emulsion. The weather is supposed to return to hot temperatures this week, so I hope the melons hang on and continue to grow into fall.

We have had such a warm summer. Overall, the garden is thriving as a result. The melon patch has produced numerous fruit nestled among the zealous vines.

Fastbreak Melons are a favorite in the garden spot. They are a muskmelon that appealed to me because of the fast maturing rate of about 70-days. The fruit are about 5-inches in diameter and taste like a sweet and small version of cantaloupe you would purchase in the supermarket. One melon is a perfect for breakfast for two.

Sugar Baby Watermelons are a new melon in the garden spot. It is an 8-inch average watermelon that matures in 80-days and is described as having a crisp, mouthwatering, sweet rich flavor.

Charantais Melons are new to the garden spot as well. They are a true European cantaloupe that has a thin, smooth skin with light green stripes that advances to creamy yellow. Charentais melons typically take 70-90 days to mature and may grow to softball size, weighing about 2 pounds:

Black solar mulch was used in the melon patch to help keep down the weeds and increase the warmth. The vines quickly intertwined in the patch as they grew.

I could easily recognize the Sugar Baby Watermelons vines because their leaf shape was different, but the Fastbreak and Charantais melon’s foliage looked similar. As the melons formed and grew, they were easy to identify. Not surprisingly, the Fastbreak Melons were the first to form fruits:

In the past few weeks I have recognized the Charantais Melons among the vines. They were late to the melon party, but are catching up quickly:

Sugar Baby Watermelons were forming fruit only a few weeks after the Fastbreak Melons. Their dark rinds cause them to stand out in the melon patch as silent sentinels:

As shown in the Harvest Monday post, the first Fastbreak Melons were harvested this week. I know from experience that the first melon is no prize as it has struggled to grow in cooler conditions in its early life. The first melon harvested is much smaller and slightly deformed than the others growing in the patch. The rind had turned a slightly yellow color and shown as a beacon among the green vines. When I reached for it, I found that it had already separated itself from the vine:

The second was quite a surprise. The melon shown brightly in the patch the following afternoon having turned to a golden color in only a day. I reached in to adjust its position so I could see the stem and it effortlessly slipped from the vine. It was ripe and ready for harvest:

This one was larger than the first, about 6-inches wide and tasted sweet and fresh. There are many more to follow.


  1. This has certainly been the perfect summer for growing melons in Maine, with the early spring and warmer-than-average temperatures. The varieties you have chosen look lovely and sound delicious. -Jean

  2. Oooh, I never heard of musk melon before, it is totally cute! I have to try to grow this next year.

  3. Your melon patch is so impressive with all the varieties of melons you grow in it! Keith just emailed me a picture of our very first female flower on my experimental supermarket cantaloupe plant. I'm so excited to check it out myself when I get back home this weekend. Are all/any of your melons heirlooms, or hybrids?

  4. While I completely don't envy your weather, it does make lovely melons. I know the Sugar Babies as we eat a lot of them every summer from our organic store. Enjoy the sweet stuff!

  5. Your melons are doing quite well. I think that it is going to be a week or probably two until I have a ripe one here.

    Don't worry, the HOT weather arrived here yesterday. It will make it's way up to you in a day or two.

  6. Those melons look fabulous. I had to buy mine from the farmers market this week.

  7. Since moving away from central Washington (where it is hotter and drier), I have not grown melons. However, I used to grow them regularly there and oh my they were good! Your patch and produce look superior and I hope you thoroughly enjoy the fruits of your labors!

  8. Oh my goodness! You're gonna have more melons than you know what to do with....

  9. I am so jealous. Your vines look so healthy. Mine are sowing signs of spotting and bacterial wilt from the cucumber beetles.

    Do you treat your plants with anything besides the fish emulsion?

  10. Jean: This has been the best melon year I have had so far. The warm weather has been perfect.

    Meemsnyc: What we Americans call “cantaloupes” are actually muskmelons. European cantaloupes have smoother skin, not netting, and don’t have the musky flavor like the muskmelons. The Charantais Melons are a European cantaloupe, not a muskmelon.

  11. wow.... everything looks awesome!

    my sugar babies are coming along really well, but i am more excited for the fastbreak melons. i remember you talking about them last year, so i added them to my seed order for this year. can't wait to taste them!

  12. Allison: Your Fastbreak melons should be ripe any time now. I have harvested a bunch this week. I hope you enjoy them.

  13. Thyme2garden: I hope your first female flower is pollinated. Don’t hesitate to pick a male bloom and rub it on the female bloom to be sure it is pollinated. Fastbreak F1 hybrid, Sugar Baby Watermelon is open pollinated, and Charentais is heirloom.

    Stefaneener: Looks like the weather will be much cooler and less humidity for the weekend. Good for humans.

    Robin: It was a hot one this week. I don’t really mind the heat, it the harsh humidity and high dew point that makes the bones ache. Thankfully this weekend is giving us a break.

    Daphne: I think melons are fun to grow and I enjoy eating them fresh off the vine. The drawback are the melon patch takes up a lot of garden space and sometimes you have 10 melons all ripe at once. I may try trellising them next year to solve the garden space issue.

    Laura: The key to growing successful melons for me was finding very short season varieties. Our summers are short and the heat is usually brief. This year is an exception.

    EG: Yes, we have a bunch of melons to consume right now>

    Thomas: Some of my vines have begun to look shabby as well. It happened quickly after we had some night temps in the 40s. I am hoping they hold on until the rest ripen. I don’t treat the foliage and I do have cucumber beetles and Japanese beetles doing some damage. Some of the leaves are suffering from mildew as well.

  14. Your garden is looks great especially your melon patch. All kinds of melons are really growing well in your garden. I will try to plant melon next week and I hope that it will grow nice like yours. I will just ask among all of the species of melons what is the sweetest.