Last year, I toiled over my watermelons. I started out with about 14 ripe ones, so I had room for error. It took me all summer long to gain the knowledge needed to pluck a truly ripe watermelon from my patch. (Answer: you look for the vines coming out of the fruit to fade and turn brown.)
This year, I assumed these same methods would be true for my muskmelons. A good friend gave me some organic seeds, and they instantly blossomed, producing a great harvest of 10 Eden’s Gem melons. Since I impatiently plucked so many of my watermelons prematurely last year, I was determined to wait for the vines to turn brown around my muskmelons before picking them.
Boy was I wrong again!
I take a daily tour around my garden. That’s the only way to keep up with weeds and zucchini. That’s also when I check in on my other budding veggies. During my last few spins around the raised beds, my sniffer has picked up on the delightful scent of fresh muskmelon. Yet, when I inspected the vines, they were always bright green, looking new and fresh. This was not at all like the browning vines on last year’s ripe watermelon. I dismissed the number one cook’s tool (my nose), and went about my other plant inspections.
This morning as I toured my garden, the smell of delicious melon was even stronger. It was as if someone had just opened a ripe melon on my kitchen counter. My nose must be right! This time, I decided to inspect the underside of my melons in case one had turned rotten. Sure enough, as soon as I lifted my melon ever so gingerly, SNAP!, off it came. On the underside I found a nearly over-ripe bruise. In fact, nearly all the melons’ skins looked nearly translucent. Instead of the soft green skins, I noticed a lot of orange peaking through. And the glorious smell! There was no denying they were ripe.
Now, instead of throwing out under-ripe melons as I did with my watermelon last year, I will be gorging myself rapidly on juicy, bursting muskmelons as fast as I can eat them. This is a task I am well suited to pursue!
Note to self: next year, as soon as these melons’ skin turns from pale green to light orange, it’s picking time!