• Alex Tamayo Wolf

Maritime Northwest Melon Trails: Minnesota Midget

Minnesota Midget melon is one of five melon varieties we planted this year and, as expected, this compact, heavy cropper, is the first of them to ripen. We harvested and ate our first this morning. Though palm-sized, it's flavor is superior to most full-sized melons I've eaten. You can eat up to the rind, it's so sweet. But here's the best thing about this petite fruit: it grows in cool climates, like ours here on Orcas Island, WA.

We planted our five melon varieties in three different locations on Orcas Island, two of which were under plastic to raise the temperature. The third site, "Eagle site", where our first specimen ripened, is an east facing slope with high thermal mass created by open and moss-covered rock faces. This area warms up quickly and is slow to cool at night. We watered very little after the plants got their first blooms and cut water completely two weeks before harvest. The two plastic sites are still being watered and scheduled to stop today. I do feel on "normal" Orcas summers, and with good exposure, soil, etc., these could grow for most everyone. I did not fertilize at all during the season. Really, without much intervention and no babying, I just let them do what they know to do: grow and propagate. They are resistant to fusarium wilt, which makes the job much easier. We started from seed in 4" pots and transplanted when they began to outgrow the pot. Melons in general don't like to be transplanted, so next year I'll try a direct sow as well.

I’ll be reporting on the other varieties' trials in the weeks to come: Kiku Chrysanthemum, Yamato Cream Watermelon, Beni Kodama Watermelon, Sakata's Sweet.

Good luck and make some room in your garden for melons.



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