My Top 5 Heirloom Melons (of 2013)

This winter, when I received seed catalogs in the mail, I immediately turned to the Melon pages.  After years of struggling to grow melons in conditions that simply were not suitable – partial sun, cool nights – I was determined to grow a few delicious heirloom melons in my tiny garden.

Baker Creed Heirloom Seeds, based in Missouri, has the most incredible selection of melons I have ever seen.  It was incredibly difficult to select only a few, and I ended up with a dozen or so varieties.  Sadly, some of my starts didn’t transplant well, but I was still left with an assortment of eight varieties, of which we are still harvesting several!  Here are my favorites:

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Banana Melon – Looks like a banana, tastes (faintly) like a banana.  A sweet, unique melon that I really enjoyed.  Fun to share with friends because it’s such an interesting shape and color!

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Prescott Fond Blanc – When this melon began taking shape in my garden, I thought I had misplanted a winter squash. Its bumpy, warty appearance and squat shape are very un-melon, but the flavor is rich and sweet.  The photo above does not do this melon justice, as I picked it a bit too early.

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Ananas – A white fleshed melon that is SO sweet and juicy. This melon was Brian’s favorite.

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Piel de Sapo – (In Everett’s arms) We enjoyed this variety in Oregon, purchasing it from the local natural food store.  It is a late ripening melon – today we harvested the first of the four fruits on our vine.

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Charentais – A French melon.  Small, extremely fragrant, and sweet.  We cut one of these open this morning and ate it before breakfast, with no leftovers.

Did you grow melons this year?  I’d love to hear of your favorite varieties. I’m making a wish list for 2014!

Shared with From the Farm Blog Hop and Homestead Bloggers Network.

Out the Front Door :: Melons

Snapshots and snippets of the beautiful, crazy world right out our front door.
If you’d like to share some of your own photos or a blog post,
please leave a link in the comments!

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Everett holds our first Prescott Fond Blanc Melon (above and below)

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Banana melon really does look and taste like a banana! 

Do you grow melons?  If so, you probably can relate to the absolute wonder of walking out into your garden, picking a ripe melon, and letting its warm, sweet juice drip down your chin and fingers.

My garden in Oregon did not get full sun exposure because we lived in a narrow valley.  Plus, a year-round creek flowed through our backyard, making the garden micro-climate a bit cooler than our neighbors up the hill.  Melons and other hot weather crops were a real challenge to grow.  I was able to grow extremely small, short season cantaloupe in the greenhouse, which were certainly delicious, but not abundant.

I was so excited to try a variety of heirloom melons this summer.  The hot days and moderate nights, humidity, and full sun make for great melon growing conditions.  I selected over a dozen varieties from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and off they grew.

Selecting a ripe melon is still not something I excel at (for instance, the Prescott Fond Blanc above was a tad bit underripe), but my general understanding is that a ripe melon should be fragrant, the base should have a little “give” when pressed with your fingers, and the melon should slip easily from the vine.  The Banana melon grew to its enormous size within the first month, then sat there, unchanging for weeks, while I wondered when in the world it would be ripe. Suddenly, the color began to change from a light green to a light yellow, and finally to a bright yellow. The stem began to separate from the fruit, and a heavenly scent was noticeable.  In two days, it was ready to pick!

Next year, one of my goals is to create a larger space dedicated to melons.  I am hooked!

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What is happening out your front door?  Do share below!

Preparing.

Geese

Snow geese have been passing overhead each day, huge flocks heading west.  Today, I saw my first robin on a tree branch outside the kitchen window.  Friends are tapping black walnut trees for their sap.  Spring draws closer yet!

I, for one, have been preparing my seed orders and dreaming and scheming about this year’s garden space (which technically doesn’t yet exist, but hey, a girl’s got to dream!)  The spring garden will be planted here at the house where we’ve been staying, and I’ll work on prepping some sheet mulched beds on the land for our summer crops.

While I already have a more than ample supply of seeds  – which, by the way, I keep in an under-the-bed style Rubbermaid container.  They are the perfect shape and size and mouse-proof too! – I cannot resist adding new varieties each year.  This year, I ecstatically flipped to the melon pages and ordered several varieties of melons.  Hurray for a hot summer climate!  My old standby seed company is High Mowing Seeds, which produces super high quality organic seeds.  This year I also placed a large order with a Missouri company, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  I love their commitment to open-pollinated and non-GMO seeds.

Here’s my seed order, for your enjoyment (and my record-keeping!)

High Mowing Seeds

Kaitlin Cabbage

Goodman Cauliflower

Guardsman Chioggia Beet

Rose de Berne Tomato

Pruden’s Purple Tomato

California Wonder Pepper

Champion Collards

NuMex Joe E. Parker Pepper (Anaheim)

High Mowing Mesclun Mix

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Parisienne Carrot

Detroit Dark Red Beet

Golden Beet

Oeschenberg Amaranth

Jimmy Nardello Italian Pepper

Illinois Beauty Tomato

Boule d’Or Melon

Piel de Sapo Melon

Charentais Melon

Golden Midget Watermelon

Red Kuri Squash

Long Island Cheese Squash

Chiriman Squash

Giant Red Re-Selection Celery

Perfection Drumhead Savoy Cabbage

Blue Curled Scotch Kale

Borage

Brocade Mix Marigold

Persian Carpet Zinnia

Bright Lights Cosmos

Unwin’s Mix Dahlia

Tina James’s Magic Primrose

I’d love to hear, in the comments below,
what are you planning for your garden this year? 

*this blog post shared on The Prairie Homestead’s Barn Hop