My search for climbers to grow on the potager arches continues. Right now I’m researching melons that will do well here in central Indiana. I’ve grown many melons in the past, both cantaloupe and watermelons, banana melons, and even citron, which I candied for holiday cookies and fruitcakes. Most of those melons were large, really too large for a two-person household and definitely too large to grow on my arches, unless a major sling is devised for each melon. I can’t envision that being attractive, so I’m looking at small, single-serving melons and have been pleasantly surprised at the number available.
The only small melons I’ve grown in the past were Queen Anne’s Pocket Melons, a staple at the herb farm, grown for their sweet perfume rather than eating. Now I want to concentrate on good flavor, so here are some I am considering.
“Lilliput” cantaloupe, luscious, sweet orange flesh with a high sugar content, ready in 80 days, about 4-5″ in diameter. Just right for one person, or cut in half with a scoop of raspberry, lime, or orange sherbet in each portion for a couple’s summer dessert. Available from Jung’s Seeds.
“Minnesota Midget” is similar, but is a bush form rather than a climber. However, they mature in only 60 days, so I may have to give them a space along the potager’s back fence, because that’s 10-20 days earlier than the others. There’s differing reports on flavor, from “excellent” to “boring,” but I suspect weather, ripeness, and personal preference are influences, so I’d like to taste them for myself. (See how easily I get diverted….supposed to be concentrating on climbers to save space, not finding more things to grow flat!)
I’ve already ordered “Green Nutmeg,” not only because I love the name, but because it is a small spicy-flavored melon with mint-green flesh, supposedly exceptionally sweet and aromatic, and highly productive. 80 days to maturity. I’d like some variation in fruit color for melon salads, so the green flesh appeals to me. This one is available from Baker Creek and Pinetree.
Baker Creek’s catalog has 12 pages of melons, and the full-color glossy photos will make reducing the selection to a reasonable number highly difficult, especially since the size is sometimes not stated, requiring additional research. “Ananas D’Amerique A Chair Vert” an heirloom grown by Thomas Jefferson that is “fragrant, incredibly delicious” and a favorite of the Baker Creek staff has green flesh and sounds like it belongs in my French potager. The second selection is “Boule d’Or” or “Golden Perfection,” but upon further research both were large melons that would require a melon “bra” for support. Further through the pages, I found “Green Machine,” which despite the mundane name, promises delicious 2 lb. green-fleshed fruits at an incredible rate. Worth a try? Or, since I already have “Green Nutmeg” maybe I should select something else. Or, should I grow both to compare? Decisions, decisions.
“Petit Gris De Rennes” is a sweet, aromatic, orange-fleshed melon of the Charentais type. At 2 lb. it fits the size range, but nothing is said about productivity. Am I asking for too much?
Johnny’s Selected Seeds offered several choices. I’m still debating… there are 30 seeds per packet. I want to try several kinds of melons without breaking the bank. I know melon seeds have a long life if stored properly, so maybe I’ll try one (at $4.65 a packet!) Now I just have to decide between “Tasty Bites (shown above),”Savor,” or “Serenade.” “Tasty Bites”is a charentais/Ananas cross that matures in 77 days to 1 lb. of super-sweet, orange fleshed melon that is a good keeper. However, I’m leaning toward “Serenade” because it is classed as a “Butterscotch” melon, which I’ve never grown. It’s a single-serving, 78 days, orange-fleshed beauty. It will all depend upon if I find enough “must-haves” from Johnny’s to justify the shipping.
More likely, I will order “Tasty Bites” from Seeds ‘N Such. Their melon seeds are 15 seeds for $1.99 if one orders 20 various packets from the catalog or website. I also want to try “Sugar Cube” (above) which is slightly larger at 2-4 lbs. with one of the highest sugar contents of any melon. It has excellent flavor and the vines are disease resistant. Also 80 days to maturity.
I still have to research a few others that I jotted down over the months while reading books, magazines, or other blogs. They all sound interesting. I’ll let you know if any of these make the final cut: Alvaro, Lil’ Loupe, Honey Ace, Orange Sherbet, French Orange Hybrid, Lambkin, or Sleeping Beauty.
I plan to start some seeds indoors early, and then plant a second round directly in the ground in mid-June, so I’ll have successive harvests. Melon seeds stay viable for years, as long as they are kept dark, dry, and cool, so none of them will be wasted. Hopefully, I’ll keep good production records and know which ones to grow again next year.