Wednesday, August 08, 2007

First Cantaloupe of the Summer

It was delicious! I picked it yesterday and it's all gone today.
We're not taking any chances with the other ones. Eddie uses some of the extra bird-netting from the chickens' area to support the cantaloupes as they get close to ripe.

From The Gardener's Network:

Determining when a melon is ripe is a bit of an art form. As a general rule, a melon is ripe when the stem begins to dry out. The end of the melon is soft when pressed with your thumb. A melon is over ripe when it is soft all over. Melons can be picked just prior to ripening. Commercial growers pick them just before they are ripe, as they ship better and keep longer.
Once harvested, it will only last about a week un-refrigerated. Melons will keep for weeks in your refrigerator.
And from PLANTanswers:
Q. Some years my cantaloupe are sweet and tasty and other years they have no flavor at all. What is wrong?
A. Cantaloupe flavor depends upon environmental conditions. High rainfall or excessive irrigation as the cantaloupes near maturity will adversely affect fruit flavor. Also, diseases which reduce the vigor of the plant and the leaves' ability to produce sugar will affect fruit flavor. Maintaining the plants in a healthy growing condition and avoiding excessive watering near maturity will improve cantaloupe flavor. Lack of flavor is not caused by cantaloupes crossing with other vine crops, such as cucumbers. Variety of cantaloupe grown affects flavor.

I think it's safe to say that excessive water won't be a problem this year! And the summer of 2002, year of the great drought in Va, gave us the best cantaloupe we had ever tasted. I think this year's crop will come very close.

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