When my children were younger they would watch the watermelons growing in our garden eagerly awaiting the first ripe melon of the season. When we first began growing melons too many sacrificed their lives for naught, as we picked them before they were ripe. Unlike cantaloupe once a watermelon is picked, what you get is what you get.
How do you know when the melon is ripe and ready? Here are some tips that will help.
Read the seed package. Early melon varieties are ready to pick within 70 to 75 days, while both the seedless and main varieties of watermelon are ready to harvest within 80 to 85 days.
The fruit should be firm and symmetrical. The underneath, where the melon lies on the ground should be lighter in color, almost yellow. Look at the stem. Around the stem of a watermelon there are tendrils that are green. When the melon has reached its peak, the tendrils will turn brown and dry.
Look at the surface of the melon. It is no longer bright and shiny but has turned dull. Feel the melon. Instead of being smooth the surface will feel bumpy with ridges. Check the color underneath the melon, being careful not to break the melon from its stem. The color should be lighter in color, a cream or yellow shade.
Old timers swear by the thumping. In Knoxville, Tennessee, many still remember supermarket entrepreneur, former mayor and television host Cass Walker’s TV ads boasting, “My melons are thumping good.”
My father always thumped melons and they were always ripe, so I thump. To thump make a fist and knock on the melon. If ripe the melon will produce a hollow sound.
Still the University of Illinois Extension site disclaims thumping watermelons as worthless, as not all melons produce the thumping sound when ripe.
Last, feel the weight of the melon. Watermelons are 92% water and should feel heavy when lifted.
Watermelons are produced in 96 countries around the world with China leading with 63,000,000 tons of melons. The United States is fifth in the world’s watermelon production with Florida, as the top producing state.
July is National Watermelon Month and August 3 Watermelon Day. Celebrate the month and the day by harvesting the perfect watermelon from the garden. Children in Japan break a watermelon with a stick, instead of a piñata in a game called suikawari. For more ideas celebrating this wonderful fruit go to www.associatedcontent.com/article19977401/watermelon_party?cat=7