"When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat," stated by Mark Twain.
Well, personally I think that Mark was on to something. Only present day, it should be when one has tasted a homegrown melon. We're almost born to prefer sweet and nothing beats the joyful experience of cutting into a melon that will have your taste buds doing a happy dance. Mark's right, it's almost inspirational. Much like the difference between store bought tomatoes and homegrown ones, melons are quite the same. Tasting them at their peak, with full ripeness from the vine, is incomparable to anything available commercially.
|Sugar Baby Watermelon Vine|
The biggest downside to growing melons was often thought to be space constraints. However, with new ideas of trellising the melons up, it now seems to be the decision of choosing which varieties to try.
Good melons to grow are often determined by their sugar content. Brix ratings or values are an estimate of the sugar to liquid ratio or sweetness of the melon. Hence, the higher the Brix number, the sweeter the melon. According to one of my heirloom references, "melons FOR THE PASSIONATE GROWER," the author states that growing anything with a Brix value of 10 or greater, signals an excellent choice for sweetness. I love this guide from Amy Goldman as it depicts one hundred heirloom melons of all different colors, flavors, textures, and types. A new project will be to track down seed for growing, in order to experience the nuances of each variety. How fun! I've been doing something similar with tomatoes as a hobby and it has been very rewarding.
|Korean Ginkaku F1 Hybrid Melon, white|
flesh inside tastes somewhat like a
pear and is remarkably sweet.
Brix rating is often 15 - 16!
I thought you might enjoy the link below for an easy on-line resource, as several of these varieties are currently available at the local retailers and we are well within the window for planting. The index from the Vegetable Research and Extension Center, through Washington State University, shows the Brix rating for many of the choices. They do show a different guideline than the melon book sited above, but it too looks to be very good advice.
There is also a link below to Ohio State University's Extension Center (Go Bucks!), for those who would enjoy reading about how they use Brix as an indicator of quality in produce. I have a refractometer (fun toy) if we want to play in the garden when our crops start producing or learn how to tweak the soil for more flavorable produce.
http://agsyst.wsu.edu/watermelonphotos.html - link to the Vegetable Research and Extension Center's Brix chart for watermelons through WSU.
http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-1650 - link to the OSU fact-sheet on using Brix as an indicator of quality in vegetables.
Green Meadows Healthy Garden Tip:
Great tasting vegetables with higher Brix levels correlate directly to well-nourished soil. Simple steps, such as raising the organic matter content and increasing the microbial life of your soil, through compost teas, will have a direct impact on the flavor and nutrient density of the food you pick.
Denise, Beds 25 & 29