One of the great joys of summer is the fruit, and one of my favorite fruits is melons. I have tried to grow different melons through the years with little success. It is not so much due to their difficulty as to the length of time they need to grow. In my previous home, we couldn’t begin to think about warm season produce until May. Many require 110 days or longer to reach maturity. In my new landscape, we have the time, but I lack the soil.
They say you always want what you don’t have, and such is the case with my desire for tropical and long season foods. I’d like to say I try to be practical and don’t try to grow things that aren’t appropriate for my region, but I would be wrong. I’m game to try anything if I can source the seed. Melons have long been on my list of things I want in my produce garden, but I have found this desire elusive to attain.
There are short season melons like “Jenny Lind” cantaloupe, which needs about 75 days until ready to pick. But I always want the ones that I find tastier, and these tend to be longer season plants. Since I am not super unknowledgeable, I know I need to start melons inside at least 8 weeks before my last expected frost. And I have done so. But once they go outside, the nights are not warm enough for rapid growth. I finally see blooms at the end of July but by then I only have a month or so for them to mature. In the end, I have had a few punky looking melons that were not very flavorful and just shy of perfection.
This year I got seed from a neighbor who has had success. The varieties are odd. One hails from Afghanistan, while another is Syrian. I have little faith we will get melons, but this year has already been unseasonably hot, with record temperatures. We are also in a drought and melons need a lot of water. Balancing their water needs with water restrictions has resulted in the saving of gray water and other measures. These summer melons should be ready by the end of August. Melon growing also requires loose, well-drained soil. I amended mine in the melon patch and hope it will be what melon growing requires.
I am skeptical, but hope trying these different melons, combined with the longer growing season here in the East side of the state, will make all the difference. I’m not even sure what kind of melons I will end up with, but if they are juicy, fragrant, and tasty, it doesn’t matter. I’m trying to picture success for the first time in my life. A delicious fruit may await my efforts. But I’m not holding my breath. Nature has a funny way of undoing all a gardener’s careful preparation and work. If the grasshoppers don’t kill my plants, something else may. As I wait to see, I will envision my tasty home grown melons, and pray a gardener’s prayer.