Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Can the invasion of seedless watermelons be contained?

Tonight we had watermelon.  It was a lovely, old-school one that I purchased weeks ago at Baylor’s Melon Stand.  It was chock full of mature black seeds, the kind that are preferred by children everywhere for seed spitting contests.

This summer we grew watermelon, but it was a bust.  I kept looking at the number of days to maturation on the seed pack.  I think they ripened early.

So I was pulling all of the old plants out and getting ready to prep the box for a new crop of greens when I noticed that out of the old vines, new green ones were present.

Then I saw this

And this

Can you believe it?

As we ate dinner, I read about the dearth of diversity in watermelons coming soon:

From the nytimes.com:
IN this dusty field filled with experimental watermelons off Highway 174, there is but one sound that matters.
It’s a deep, soft pop, like a cork slipping free from a wine bottle. You hear it when a pocket knife cracks the green rind on a watermelon so full of wet fruit that the outside can barely contain the inside.
Terry Kirkpatrick, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Arkansas, spends a lot of time here popping open watermelons. He’s searching for deeply colored flesh that is crisp but not crunchy and so juicy that pools fill the divots left by a spoon.
The taste has to be exceptionally sweet but just slightly vegetal, so you know it came from the earth and not the candy counter.
These days, a good watermelon also has to ship well, which means a thick rind and a uniform shape. It has to be small enough so people pushing grocery carts in big-city stores will buy it. And it can’t have seeds.
All of that describes his small hybrid triploid beauties with names like Precious Petite and Orchid Sweet. They are very likely the future for many watermelon farmers, but they are also heartbreakers for a lot of people around southwest Arkansas who miss the old-fashioned seeded melons that now grow in only a few fields.
In many ways, Hope, a town known for both President Bill Clinton and the giant melons that were celebrated at its annual Watermelon Festival last weekend, is a microcosm of the watermelon world these days.
Next year, I already have plans for planting a seeded watermelon in the Earthbox.  Can you believe people successfully grow them in containers?

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