Thursday, October 09, 2008

Miniature Watermelon - Tiny but Tasty

I had to include the above picture just to give a sense for scale when I discuss the miniature watermelon that we raised in our gluten-free garden this year. On the left is a honeydew melon that we also grew, and trust me, it is not even as large as many of the ones I see at the grocery store - perhaps commercial growers have the advantage of being in a State where the growing season is longer.

But, regardless, the two melons to the right of the honeydew are actually "watermelon", or so they were supposed to be according to the seeds we selected and purchased online. Nothing in the watermelon-seed advertisement or description said anything about size, which as you can see = TINY. We anxiously watched these fruit grow, and as they took off quickly I had high hopes... first they reached golf-ball size... then baseball... then maybe just about softball size...then... nothing more! I couldn't believe it.

So, we finally picked one after the stem indicated that it was ripe (the stem will start turning yellow and/or brown). And, here's what the fruit looked like inside:

Yes, it rather appears to be a watermelon. And, it sure did have a lot of seeds. Whatever variety or species this thing is, it is definitely different. I expect is still offers the usual healthy qualities of watermelon: fiber, lycopene, Vitamin-C, etc. Now, how about taste?

Well, it actually tastes just like any "normal" watermelon I have had. It was quite nice in fact. And, aside from the proliferation and abundance of seeds for such a tiny watermelon, this miniature fruit had one neat thing going for it: you could eat the center all the way out to within an 1/8" of the "rind", since the lighter-colored rind-region still tasted fine and was still of a nice texture too.

So, given the yield these "watermelon" plants produced this year - i.e., a few of these Miniature Watermelons per vine - and given the space the vines take up in the garden, I think we will forgo the small watermelon next year and plant more honeydew melon in their place (those were the star performer this year - outperforming the mini-watermelon and the cantaloupe plants too).

My wife and I like to joke about how these tiny watermelon, if you could purchase them in the store, would be some type of "rare" or "select" or "specialty" variety that would cost $20.00/each because of this. he he he. If you have seen the exotic fruits in the markets priced a bit ridiculous, you will know the source of our amusement. It is sorta like how "heirloom" tomatoes are $5.00/pound or something, and they grow just as easily as any others from our experience. Well, enough of the miniature watermelon discussion for now - I could have eaten 4 of them in the time it took to type this Gluten-Free Blog entry :)


Gnihton said...

I came across this post while surfing and wanted to comment, my understanding of watermelons are that as the plants get older the produce more watermelons, how many did your fist softball batch produce? anyways, as they produce more farmers will trim them off making say 500 potential watermelons down to 70-100. in this trimming process the plant focuses its energy into he renaming fruits making them bigger. if for example a farmer had a huge watermelon plant that made 100 watermelon and he trimmed it all and left only one, that's what would produce those giant 5 foot tall fruits that farmers then compete. other fruits liek apple trees are similar where orchard owners will chop off whole limbs of the tree. the effects that the fruits may portray may be increased size, or increased sweetness or tartness. Anyways, maybe next year you can trim off half of them and they'll grow 3 times as big! =]

Mike Eberhart said...

Our plants did not produce very many watermelon. We did notice some "starts" of fruit that just died off before reaching maturity, but nothing like 100. Maybe 10 extra "starts" per plant. We had 3 plants total, and only ended up with about 6 of these tiny watermelon (rather poor returns). So, perhaps we should have just nipped off those extra few starts. Either way, next year it will be honeydew primarily for us (those did really well). Thanks for stopping by gnihton.