Free produce is one of the fringe benefits of working here. During harvests at Johnny's Research Farm, we are often notified by the farm crew when things are "up for grabs". I scored this Snow Leopard Honeydew melon during our Wednesday morning cropwalk, a weekly event for Johnny's employees to learn about the progress of our many product trials. It's educational, helps us pass on first-hand knowledge to customers, and is often the highlight of our workweek. Steve, our melons expert, tossed me the Snow Leopard at the end of his 10-minute talk on melons. I finally cut into it Friday morning. Delicious!
Snow Leopard was a new variety for us last year. It has beautiful pale yellow skin contrasted by green splotches that look almost painted on. Some fruit finish growing with full-on vertical stripes. They grow to an average of 2 lb. The taste is incredibly sweet. A squirt of lime juice really makes this one dance on your taste buds. We sampled an earlier honeydew -- Honey Pearl -- last week. Also fantastic.
While we're talking melons, I thought I'd share a few shots of my own melon patch. My garden is located in Hallowell, Maine -- about 25 miles south of Johnny's Research Farm in Albion. This season, I'm growing 2 Johnny's watermelon varieties -- New Orchid and Sunshine.
New Orchid, an orange-fleshed watermelon, is doing pretty well. The Sunshine, not so much. I'm also growing cantaloupe. Some of the vines in these photos are from the cantaloupe which is intermingling with the watermelons. It doesn't take long for a melon patch to get out of control. As long as this situation doesn't affect the taste of my New Orchid -- the best tasting watermelon I've ever had -- I'll be happy.
|New Orchid hanging on a home-made wire trellis. It's about 2 lb. now, but they can grow up to 7-9 lb.|
|Close-up of New Orchid's beautiful skin. Can't wait to taste what's inside!|
I started both varieties inside in mid-April. I planted the seedlings at the beginning of June and covered the soil with black plastic mulch. It's been a good melon growing season here in Maine. Melons love the heat, and we've had plenty this summer. Steve, our melons expert, says we're a week or two ahead of where we'd normally be this time of year.
|Grow baby, grow! That's my beloved New Orchid.|
My melons are definitely a little smaller than I'd like. Although I have good southern exposure, my gardens don't get as much early morning and late afternoon sun as the crops might like because I have big trees on the east and west sides of my property. Time to break out the chainsaw?
|Melon patch. The black plastic mulch heats up the soil; stops weeds; locks in moisture and nutrients; conserves water; and helps lead to a better crop.|
|I stuck a leftover Sunshine seedling in an empty patch of soil where an early Kale crop was. Clearly, it's not as happy as the melons grown on black plastic mulch.|