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  • Writer's pictureAlex Tamayo Wolf

Maritime Northwest Melon Trials: Yamato Cream

At our second growing site, the Enchanted Food Forest, we hacked the climate with plastic for growing our five test varieties. What we noted under the plastic was much larger fruit than the unhacked "Eagle" site, where the fruit was only palm-sized. The Yamato Cream watermelon variety was unexpectedly large at the food forest, about 10 pounds and a week of Orcas summer away from peak ripeness. (I can tell by its tendril; it's not yet dried out, a reliable indicator for ripeness in most watermelons. The "knock test" also tells me it's not quite ready.)

Getting the fruit to this point was quite easy, and any gardener can do it. We grew the Yamato Cream from seed in a 4" pot, germinating with heat cables underneath and agribon 30 on top, as much to deter birds and mice as green-housing the seedlings. A few weeks later, when the roots began to punch the bottom of the pots, we planted into dirt mounds. We soon built a simple plastic hoop around the mound rows to increase the daily heat units. Irrigation began right away using .25" drip line. Every morning we dripped for ten minutes. While the plants were small we grew Thai basil and other "quick-to-harvest" heat-loving herbs as "companions". (The scent of ripe melon and Thai basil on the fingertips is stimulating to the senses, almost like an aphrodisiac.) Then, we counted the days and pulled weeds now and then. Easy as that.

Tasting Notes: Need a week but smelling something wonderful already.

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