Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Interested in sum sum Summertime?

Sitting at a picnic table.  Holding a wedge of watermelon in your hand.  Taking a bite and savoring it.  Then spitting the seed as far as you can - all the while trying to look cool as you do it.  And, if you're like me, that first seed just kind of dribbles onto your chin - so the looking cool part doesn't happen.  It's a picture of Summer in many people's minds.  So, we thought we might give you a post about watermelons at the Genuine Faux Farm.

We are in search of a year that gives us the "right" amount of watermelons for a given year.  Granted, we don't really know what that number might be.  All we know is that everyone in our CSA might like at least one during a given season.  And, we'd like to have some for ourselves and maybe some for events we hold at the end of Summer/beginning of Fall. 

Sweet Siberian (dark green), Ali Baba (light green), Mountain Yellow Sweet (dark green with light green stripes)
We've asked for feedback on what we grow numerous times over the years and were surprised a couple of years back when the watermelon was given more love than cantaloupe or other melons by our CSA members.  Since that time, we've figured out some of the reasons for this.  First, our CSA hadn't seen much for melons in the two years prior to when the question was asked, so they didn't have recent memories of some of the melons we grow.  In fact, most people who do not like melons are reacting to the unripe melon that is usually foisted off on consumers in many groceries.  Well, if that had been my only exposure to them, I might agree.  But, as we've gotten better at melon growing we've been able to convince a number of people that melons are a very good thing.  Maybe not everyone, but we recognize everyone has their taste preferences.

Sweet Siberian
That doesn't mean we aren't also trying to grow enough watermelons for everyone.  The first post referenced in the last paragraph (this one) gives most of the reasons why watermelons don't usually get a high priority on our farm.  Overall, the issue is more of a logistical problem than anything else.  Watermelons get ripe when we have a wide variety of produce available for our CSA.  The truck is already very full - and we have to get a batch of watermelons in there as well?  If you haven't noticed, they're rounded, so they don't pack all that well either.

We try to cover most of the production need with Sweet Siberian, which is a smaller (5-7 pound average) watermelon.  It is a light yellow watermelon with a slightly grainy texture.  The taste reminds me a little bit of a watermelon dipped in honey.  As long as you aren't expecting the standard texture and taste and keep your mind open to it, this is one fantastic watermelon.  Yes, it has seeds.  It has lots of seeds.  It's an open-pollinated watermelon.  Seeds are natural.  They kind of need them to reproduce, don'tcha know?  After all, that's why you eat them outside - so you can have a seed spitting contest!  Just avoid dribbling seeds on your chin.  All of the cute girls (Tammy) will point and laugh at you... until she tries to spit a seed and the same thing happens to her! HA!

Orangeglo - light green with dark green stripes
Sadly, watermelon is one of those crops that has a few strikes against it.  First, it is a longer season crop. The longer the season a crop needs, the more opportunities there are for things to go wrong.  With some of the weather we've dealt with over that past X years, there have been seasons that simply did not give the watermelons a chance to do anything.  Second, watermelons take up space since they are a vine crop.  In fact, they take up more space that cantaloupe.  They just don't produce super high numbers of fruit per square foot of growing space.  That's a problem when you run a CSA program and have limited field space - we're all about the numbers.  If you have 120 members,  you want/need at least 120 fruit.

It was sitting in the field, just minding its own business.
Then, there is a matter of education.  Yes, I said "education."  I've said it before and I'll say it again - we firmly believe that there are all sorts of taste options out there that provide opportunities for people, such as myself, to learn to like new things.  That is why "We Can't Grow Anything Normal."  But, when you can't grow anything normal, you end up having to spend time explaining what you have and why it is a good thing.  Since we grow many different things, we have to pick and choose some of our battles.  And, even when we give it our best shot, someone will still inform us that they threw a watermelon out because it looked like this:

Yes, it really IS orange inside.  It is called Orangeglo, you know.
But, the main reason we grow Sweet Siberian (light yellow), Ali Baba (pink), Orangeglo (orange) and Mountain Yellow Sweet (yellow) is because we think they give us a nice range of fantastic tasting watermelons.  And... they are all open pollinated varieties.

Well, at least someone is happy to have an Orangeglo watermelon!
Last year was a great melon year, but we had a watermelon catastrophe.  The small watermelon harvest had some really tasty Orangelo watermelons, but not enough for everyone.  We're hoping to meet our goals for both in 2016!

Join our CSA and reserve your chance to taste some of these delicious treats!

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