This year I grew watermelons. I planted organic seed in my raised vegetable bed, protected from gophers by aviary wire, grown in excellent soil and fertilized with organic fertilizer, watered often, and the vines produced three melons the size of grapefruit. The chickens enjoyed them very much. However, a non-organic watermelon from a six-pack stuck in the ground under a bamboo, decided to take over the world. Not only did it’s foliage cover a good portion of the upper soil, but it grew and has grown enormous beasts of watermelons. One we call King Watermelon.
My daughter and I watched a YouTube video on how to tell if a melon is ripe. One way is to watch the tendril opposite the stem of the watermelon, and when it turns brown the melon should be ripe. The area where the stem connects to the fruit should also turn a little brown. Also, under the melon should be a pale spot where it rests on the ground, and when that area turns from white to yellowish, that is another sign. King Watermelon had no spot. We checked every few days for weeks as the beast grew larger and larger, it’d tendril tenaciously green. Then suddenly, it was brown. Much celebration. My petite collegiate daughter crept up on King Watermelon and swiftly cut it’s stem. Then staggering with it, brought it into the house where we weighed it. It was an incredible 28 pounds. It is a wonder that any other plant in the area got any irrigation! Normally we’d slice the melon on the countertop, but King Watermelon was so large that he had to go into the kitchen sink, and he barely fit! It was there that he was butchered, in consideration of all the juice that might come out.
The insides were perfectly sweet, juicy and crunchy. I couldn’t believe how perfect it was.
My daughter cut and cut, saving some for our dinner (all that extra water before bedtime wasn’t a great idea, though), and wrapping the rest. The chunks had to be stored on cookie sheets to distribute the weight on the shelves and protect from leaking juice. We had watermelon the next day too, and fed some to our very grateful and thirsty tortoise during the heat wave. There is a lot of King Watermelon left. It is scary to look into the refrigerator and see it all. Even cut up and wrapped, that melon still has an attitude. And I think he won the battle after all.
And there are more melons ripening with each passing minute. Gulp.