Watermelons

Watermelon is garden candy. It’s messy and a dietary necessity on the fourth of July.Watermelon is a tendril-climbing, annual, herbaceous plant which is related to the muskmelon, pumpkin, squash and gourd families. Watermelon is believed to have originated from Africa, and from there it spread to Egypt, India and China. The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt and is depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics on the walls of their ancient buildings. Watermelons were often placed in the burial tombs of Kings to nourish them in the afterlife. When the French colonized America, they found the Indians growing watermelons in the Mississippi Valley. China is now the worlds number one producer of watermelon. Most varieties need a long, warm summer and plenty of soil nutrients. The watermelon requires sandy loam which is well drained and a pH of 5.0 -6.5. The color of the skin may vary from white through shades of green and may be mottled or striped. Flesh color varies from yellow through to red. Red-fleshed varieties are the most popular. The flesh is about 90 per cent water and 8 to 12 per cent sugar. They love sunny, well drained beds. Most watermelons grow well in the south, but northern growers have to take special care to get a good crop. Be sure to work as much well rotted manure or compost into the soil as you can. Start seed indoors four weeks before normal planting time, or wait until the ground is warm and sow the seeds outdoors. If you start seeds indoors, be very careful when transplanting; the root system is very sensitive to the trauma of transplant. If you are far north and have had trouble with watermelon before, try black plastic mulch. Its soil warming properties can’t be beat as well as for weed suppression. If you start seeds out in the garden, plant in hills six feet apart. Start with 6 seeds per hill. Later when the plants are up and growing, thin to stand only three seedlings per hill. Keep the plants vigorously growing after they’ve started to vine by watering them weekly and keeping the beds free of weeds. Add side-dressings of manure or a good organic fertilizer. Watermelon will also benefit from a weekly spray of a good foliar mix that contains seaweed and fish emulsion. If you stunt the plants growth at an early stage, your vines won’t produce as they should. Honeybees must pollinate the watermelon blossom. Even the sterile, seedless watermelon requires pollination in order to fruit. In a month, a vine may spread to as much as 6-8 feet. Within 60 days, the vine produces its first watermelons and the crop is ready to harvest within 90 days. The first watermelons to mature are  called the "crown set" because they are closest to the root. Other melons farther down the vine will ripen later and gardeners may harvest their watermelons several times before the season is over. Seedless watermelons are sterile hybrids that develop fruits, but no seeds. The seeds for growing them are produced by crossing a normal  watermelon with one that has been changed genetically by treatment with a chemical called colchicine. The seeds from this cross produce plants that, when pollinated with pollen from normal plants, produce seedless melons . In seedless watermelons, rudimentary seed structures develop, but these are small, soft, white, tasteless, undeveloped seedcoats that are eaten right along with the flesh of the melon. A Japanese scientist developed the technique for producing seedless watermelons. Look for varieties called Ssuperweet, Genesis, Millionaire, Scarlet Trio, Tiffany, Tri-X-313, Crimson Jewel, King of Hearts, and Tycoon. Picking watermelons is one summertime ritual riddled with theories and old folktales. There’s no point picking a melon too early, hoping it will ripen indoors. Watermelon like any other fruit, have as much sugarin them on the day they’re harvested as they’ll ever have. They don’t get better with age. You’ll find advocates of thumping, eyeballing, checking for brown tendril, waiting for the underneath to turn yellow and other techniques. But nearly all home gardeners , even veterans, still fret over their watermelons. After all you can’t just  peak inside. Here’s one idea that comes from the experts. Make a note the day the female flowers blossoms. The female will have a little fruit on it. The male has a similar flower but no fruit. The same day the female blossoms, the plant is pollinated. Take a look at your seed packet and determine the days to maturity. You’ll have some idea how long to wait. If you’re not so scientific, be sure to check the round spot on the under side.. If it’s still white, wait several days and check again.

Some old timers will tell you to pick the melon when the tendril closest to the fruit has turned brown and dried out. This is a little risky. For some varieties, the inside will be overripe by the time the tendril dries. For some the tendril can be dead a week to ten days before the melon ripens. When ripe the top side of the melon will become rough and dull-looking. And don’t sneer at those who believe in the knuckle tapping or palm-slapping test; these methods have their place. They can’t tell you when to pick, the melon, but they can tell you that you have waited too long. A hollow sound indicates the fruit is overripe. As the season draws to a close, pick all the immature fruit, so the vines will put all their efforts into ripening the few remaining large fruits. Watermelon is the best when eaten fresh. If properly chilled, it will last 3 weeks. It can be frozen, cut melons into slices, cubes or balls. Pack into containers and cover with cold 30 percent syrup (1 3/4 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water). Leave 1 inch head space. Seal and freeze. You don’t have to add the syrup if you don’t want to, it will be just fine packed dry. I like to dehydrate the seedless variety, be sure to spray the dehydrator tray with vegetable cooking spray so the piece don’t stick. Cut into strips 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, and 3-4 inches long, watermelon looses a lot of bulk when it dries. Dehydrate until chewy. It has a very intense watermelon candy flavor. Watermelon can be pickled or canned as well. The separate male and female blossoms are cross-pollinated by bees, so plantings of different varieties may cross within 200 feet. Since the seeds are mature when the fruit is ripe, you can keep the seeds of especially good melons as you eat them. Melons that remain in the garden until they’re overripe can also be used. Just rinse the seeds and spread them out to dry for a week.

                                                                             **********************************************************************

Use of plastic garbage bags is perhaps the simplest way to make compost. The bags are easy to handle, and require minimal maintenance. To make compost using this  method, 30-40 gallon plastic bags should be alternatively filled with plant wastes, fertilizer and lime. About one tablespoon of a garden fertilizer with a high nitrogen  content should be used per bag. Lime (one cup per bag) helps counteract the extra acidity caused by anaerobic composting. After filling, add about a quart of water. Close tightly. Set aside for six months to a year. Bags can be set in a basement or heated garage for better decomposition during winter months. Using garbage bags requires no turning or additional water after closing. The main advantage of composting in garbage bags is that it requires little maintenance; however, because oxygen is limited, the process is slow.

                                                                                   *********************************************************

Apple maggot

The adult apple maggot is a fly, slightly smaller than a house fly, that lays tiny yellow eggs on developing fruit. The eggs hatch into white - to - yellow larvae, that are a typical maggot with a narrow, pointed front- end and a blunt, broad- rear end. Full grown larvae are only 1/4 to 3/8 inch long. Adult flies begin emerging in June fromoverwintering pupae in the soil, with the bulk of emergence occurring in late June. By the end of August, most adults have emerged, but some may still appear in September. Females deposit eggs just under the fruit skin and eggs hatch in 5-10 days. Larvae tunnel through the fruit flesh and mature after fruit fall. There is usuallyone generation per year, but some areas may have a partial second generation. Pits and dimples form on the apple as a result of egg laying damage, leading to misshapen fruit. Larvae damage the flesh by leaving large brown trails allowing decay to occur. When numerous, the fruit grows extremely dimpled and gnarled, and the flesh is ruined.

Control

If you have only 1-2 trees and no other host trees are within 300 ft, removing apple maggot infested fruit that has fallen to the ground may help reduce next years' population.

Red spheres covered with sticky material placed around the outside of the tree may help reduce apple maggot damage.                  

                                                                                      ***************************************************

As a deterrent to keep cats from using the flower beds as a litter box; sprinkle the garden with ground black pepper. When they step on the pepper, it "burns" (but not permanently) their  sensitive pads. The pepper is unnoticeable as it blends in with the dirt. Purchase the pepper from Costco or Sams in bulk to make this cost-effective cat deterrent.

                                                                                              *************************************

Worms

Through their feeding and burrowing activities, worms can affect the decomposition of organic litter, modify soil microbial communities, and alter the structure and porosity of the soil, thereby profoundly influencing the availability of nitrogen in the soil. By converting organic matter such as kitchen waste, lawn clippings, newspaper, cardboard, dried leaves and animal manure into castings, worms dramatically reduce the amount of time needed to break down organic waste and return nutrients to the soil from months and years to a matter of days. Without the help of worms, under normal conditions, the majority of organic material is decayed in three or four years, releasing its nitrogen slowly. A redworm consumes about ½ it’s body weight per day in organic waste. One pound or 1000 redworms can convert 3 to 4 pounds of organic matter into castings each week. Worm castings are absolutely THE most perfect plant food there is.

                                                                            **********************************************************************

Herbs

Flowering Tobacco sow under plastic in spring or outdoors in frost free areas and transplant to flowering positions in full sun. Water frequently in dry weather. Also called sweet-scented tobacco.

Sweet Basil sow indoors or under plastic in spring or outside after risks of frost are past. Grow in rich, moist soil, with full sun and shelter from cold winds ; or treat as a pot plant, sowing in small pots to avoid root disturbance. Pinch out flowering shoots to extend useful life of plants and root non-flowering side shoots in pots during summer for winter use.

(Common) Evening Primrose sow in summer where plants art to grow, or in a seedbed for transplanting in autumn. Grow in full sun in light well-drained soil. Also called evening star and king’s cure-all.

                                                                                   *******************************************************

Brandie

“Only God can make a tree, but I'm in charge of seeds and weeds!”

 

 

 
Make a Free Website with Yola.