Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When to Harvest Melons

Am I wrong or do garden fruits become ready for harvest according to the size of the fruits? Here's the order I noted: cucumbers, round French squash, Roma and Italian paste tomatoes, large slicer tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini. And finally.....

The Queen and King of all Garden Fruit: Cantaloupe and Watermelon!

OK, OK, it's not a perfect system -- some garden fruits are unruly. Cherry tomatoes come after cucumbers and then kind of do what they please for the rest of the summer. Eggplants, okra, and hot peppers need super hot weather and around here, come along when it seems like nothing at all should really be thriving.

But besides idle speculations on garden fruit hierarchy, what's been on my mind ever since I started anxiously watching these babies grow is, how do I know when melons are ready to harvest?

I never had room in my city garden for such ramblers and frankly, half the time I can't even pick a ripe melon out in the grocery store produce section. So I had my sister call her friend Rhonda, a small scale sustainable gardener who knows about all things flora and fauna. Here was her advice:

How To Know When Melons Are Ripe

1. Cantaloupe: ripe when it slips easily from the vine.
2. Watermelon: ripe when the tendrils nearest the fruit dry up, or when it has a happy yellow underbelly.

It's dark outside right now, but I feel tempted to go to the garden with my flashlight. I mean, we are talking melon.


  1. Cantaloupe is my favorite fruit....but I simply do not have the tenacity to grow it here. I have tried, but it did not do well for me. I am reduced to buying it from farmers at the farmers market who ARE able to grow it. There is nothing like a ripe melon. YUMMO

  2. Thanks! I always wondered how to tell when they were ripe.