Prairie Cat - welcome, and thanks for following my blog!
With only 6 weeks left before the arrival of our first average frost date, new watermelons are forming on the vines growing in the 18 gallon swc by Jude's pen. It looks like there's fruitset of at least 4, and we'll just have to wait and see if they amount to anything. If nothing more, at least Jude will have something new to play with. Any melons that don't amount to much are given to her, and she usually eats them. Hehe....Anyway, the one in the picture below is the largest of the 4, and has been slung already.
Photo below - this little stinker has grown quite a bit since the picture was taken, and is now resting on the ground. Both are Congo watermelons, and i've yet to get a decent fruit from them this year. As you might guess, not much foliage has been present on the vines throughout the season, but now there's an adequate amount.....
Photo below - Now, i'd like to address the problem of telling when a watermelon is ready to pick for anyone that might be struggling with the idea. This, of course is the 11.5 lb. melon that was harvested the other day, and I took some pretty good pictures of it that will hopefully be helpful.
Photo below - when the tendril located closest to the fruit has completely turned brown, it's supposed to be ready. The tendril is indicated by the rather crude red circle drawn in the picture by myself. Yeah, I know.....i'm not much of a photo editor.
Anyway, I always wait between 1 and 2 weeks later before picking my melons, because previous experience has shown me that the "tendril method" isn't always perfect. However, if left too long on the vine, the heart (center of the fruit) will become mealy or grainy.....
Even though the current growing season is still going, I can't help but wish that next spring would hurry up and get here. The reason is that alot has been learned this season, and I know the next opportunity will be much more rewarding. 2010 was the year of the tomato in my garden, but 2011 will be all about melons - and several different varieties, too. I can already predict honeydew, cantaloupe, sugar bowl, congo, mountain hoosier, and sugar baby will be grown, and most against the 24 foot long trellis at the end of the yard. Yep, it's gonna be an interesting year!
Being a square foot gardener, I have always used the melon spacings recommended by the sfg method - but there's just one drawback.....even though there's enough soil to plant 2 watermelon vines (evenly spaced) side by side in a 4 foot wide bed with a trellis, there's not enough trellis area to accomodate the foliage required to get decent-sized fruit. That's why next year - only 1 will be planted against a trellis in the main raised bed. Sugar baby will most likely be grown there, and the larger ones against the 24 foot trellis....
Take care, and happy gardening!