My childhood holds vivid memories of my dad cutting of a slab of cold watermelon to eat in the middle of hot summer days. He would put a piece on a plate and stand back then throw a fork into it to get it to stick a vertical landing in the center. The start of this backyard garden venture began on a day off with nothing to do and a random trip to Andersen’s Nursery.
June 26, 2014 – An Aimless Afternoon at the Nursery
At Andersen’s I spotted 6-packs of seedling sugar baby watermelons that got my gardening urges roaring. At that point all we had in the backyard garden were a few unfilled pots and containers being overrun by weeds. With little hope of growing a watermelon, I purchased the 6-pack that day and planted 3 plants in one SMALL container (a 12′ cement pot) with some potting soil. I left the other 3 in the plastic tray unsure what to do with them.
A couple weeks went by and the potted plants started vining out rapidly and each quickly set their first female flower then kept growing! They were crawling across the garden, climbing onto rogue cherry tomato plants in a modge podge of chaos.
July 26th – Heartbreak and Optimism
The moment the watermelons started vining out, I started pricing out materials for a raised be with trellis – square foot garden style. We’d had some before in previous rental homes but hadn’t started one in this place yet because we were unsure how long we’d be staying here. Now over a year has gone by without a garden and life passing by! I couldn’t bear to see all the plants strewn about without a plan.
We decided to give the backyard garden some more planting space with a raised bed and trellis. Headed to Home Depot on our day off and spent about $120 on wood, soil and plants. At this point the watermelons were baseball size and growing a half an inch in girth each day – 1 on each of the 3 potted plants. It was too late to get them to climb but we moved them over by the trellis where they’d be safe. In the midst of construction I dropped a shovel that landed smack dab on the largest of the 3 melons and snapped it from the vine. I was so heartbroken I almost threw in the towel but then I saw the other 2 still on the vine and all the new planting space. We cut open the detached melon and found a blushing pink color in the interior and parts were actually sweet. Skeeto was happy to eat eat.
Aug. 9, 2014 – Are they ready yet?
The 2 plants with a melon each seemed to stop vining and flowering. I imagine it was focusing on ripening the melons which were now just beyond softball sized. The leaves of the 2 with melons started browning in an unusual way while the plant without a melon started growing new suckers. I pruned the suckers and let it start climbing the trellis.
Worried the browning leaves were a sign a nutrient deficiency, I gave it the pot some epsom salt and fish fertilizer.
The melons seemed to stop gaining size and I was watching the closest tendril to see when it was dried up (a supposed sign of ripeness.) The tendril slowly started to turn brown but was not even half way dried.
Aug. 16, 2014 – New Melon!
The tendrils on both melons seemed fully dry by today but I read sugar babies might need up to 10 days after the tendril dries to ripen. I was to nervous to take a chance so didn’t harvest just yet.
In the meantime, the 3rd plant that did not have a melon because of the great moving accident developed a new female flower. It’s too early to tell if it will develop into a melon and it’s so late in the season I won’t get my hopes up, but it just goes to show how life just keeps on keeping on.
Aug. 21, 2014 – First Harvest
Today in an act of impatience mixed with excitement we chopped this little guy from the vine to see if after 2 months it was sweet and crisp!
It was our first watermelon ever and it was like cutting an umbilical cord. I literally closed my eyes and squealed to do it.
We rushed inside and sliced it open!!!
It was beautiful, sweet and the most exciting harvest from this garden so far.