Name that melon

We didn’t plan to grow melons this summer, but our compost had other plans in store for the garden.

When you use compost, you get all the richness of great soil, but you also get some mysteries. When you throw food scraps into your pile, oftentimes those scraps contain seeds, and once your garden starts growing, you notice things popping up here and there that you didn’t intentionally grow. One of these mysteries is said melon.

This is the younger of the two melons growing. It's about the size of a large grapefruit.

This is the older melon. It's just a bit smaller than a football.

Our best guess is cantaloupe, but we aren’t sure. It doesn’t look ripe, but how do we know when to pick it? Here’s a closer look at the vine if that helps anyone identify it. Please help a gardener out!

Melon vine climbing along the bed's perimeter

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20 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Blair on July 12, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Pat and Mom, I’m lookin’ at you here.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Maryanne on July 12, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    They look healthy…let me know what it is and what it taste like when you find out. Papa can sample it out for you!

    Reply

  3. Posted by Kathy Elliott on July 13, 2010 at 8:23 am

    I don’t know, but it sure looks interesting! It looks like some kind of squash. Do the flowers look like squash blossoms?

    Reply

  4. Posted by nancygal on July 13, 2010 at 10:02 am

    ** Be careful, Andria — I think I’ve seen this before:

    http://search.aol.com/aol/image?q=pod%20body%20snatchers

    Reply

  5. Posted by nancygal on July 13, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Or a hybrid canteloupe?

    That’s a very interesting gardening website, by the way, with lots of photos… and she’s in Austin, too! Must be a very fun place to garden.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Kathy Elliott on July 13, 2010 at 11:51 am

    okay, I have changed my mind. I think it is a melon. But what kind?

    Reply

  7. Posted by emiliekopp on July 13, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    So cool! I hope it’s a Santa Claus melon.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Blair on July 13, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I like the Santa Claus melon idea. Thanks, Mom! Also, this website has a pretty good melon list.

    http://www.clovegarden.com/ingred/melons.html

    Nancy, thanks for the Austin blog link. I’m gonna throw it in the Google Reader 🙂

    Reply

  9. Posted by Nancygal on July 13, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    What?! Blair, u didn’t like the body snatcher link?

    Reply

  10. Posted by Kathy Elliott on July 13, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Blair and Andria: Be sure to report what it tastes like. Also, how did a Santa Claus melon get in your composter?

    Reply

  11. Posted by Kathy Elliott on July 13, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Elves or reindeer?

    Reply

  12. Posted by Pat on July 13, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    It DOES look like the Santa Claus Melon! Christmas in July!

    Reply

  13. Posted by Andria on July 13, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    So the $1 million question of the day: How did we get Santa Claus melon seeds in our compost? Tying in Nancy’s theme, maybe from an alien? This really has been a fun mystery. Thanks for all your help identifying it! I think we’ll pick it within the next few weeks and take some pictures when we cut in. Wish we could share it with all of you. 😉

    Reply

  14. Posted by Kathy Elliott on July 14, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Looks like it might be ready pretty soon!

    Reply

  15. Melon harvesting tips from garden web might be helpful:

    http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/cornucop/2002071935010165.html

    Harvesting Melons: How do you know when a melon is ripe?

    This is a difficult thing for the home gardener to determine no matter what melon it is. Even specific types will vary depending on what variety it is. […] here are some tips:

    All “melons” are Cucurbits (Cucurbitaceae). The cucurbit family includes species such as the gourd, watermelons, cantaloupes, squash and pumpkins.

    Melons like cucumbers require ample moisture for the growth and fruit setting. During the fruiting ripening stage, however, too much water will diminish the flavor of the melons.

    1. When harvesting, make sure that the melon is cut from the vine instead of pulled. Pulling creates a cracking wound that pathogens can enter and quickly destroy the quality of the fruit, not to mention ruining the appearance of the fruit. Leave the stems on the melon for as long as possible, and treat for stem end rot after picking.

    2. Don’t harvest your melons until they are fully ripe. Melons will get softer after they are picked from the vine but they will never get sweeter.

    3. Most people tap on the fruit and listen for a dull thump. If you grow many of them, this is an art form.

    Santa Claus Melon – Also called Christmas melon or December melon, the Santa Claus melon is a very popular melon during the winter when it comes into season. The convenient timing for Christmas, the bright green and yellow skin, and the long-lasting qualities of the melon are all attributed as being the reasons for its unique name. Whatever the reason for the name, the Santa Claus melon is very flavorful and is great for salads and other dishes. Many varieties are quite large, and even though they look like small watermelons on the outside, on the inside they are almost exactly like honeydew melons. The ripest Santa Claus melons have soft blossom ends and a distinct yellow tinge to the skin.

    Reply

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