Farm Manager, Powisset Farm
As we come to the end of August, we are nearing the end of one of our best melon harvests ever here at Powisset Farm. Even though we grow our melons in the same way that we grow most of our other crops—seed in greenhouse, transplant out to field, weed, water, care—they somehow seem to carry a bit more magic and mystery due to their extreme size and sweet, sugary deliciousness. It’s not that biting into a freshly picked head of broccoli isn’t amazing; it is. But in mid-August, when you are so hot and tired from picking all day every day, there is something special about dunking head-first into a dripping watermelon, letting go of all need to be cool or shy and instead letting our childhood joys take hold and win.
This year at Powisset, we dedicated a half acre to our melons. We grew three different varieties of watermelon; sugar baby, little baby flower and petite yellow (a yellow fleshed watermelon). We also grew two varieties of musk melon, sarah’s choice and halona. Both are orange-fleshed cantaloupes. For the last two weeks we have been wading through the field of melons, half of which is beautifully weeded and half of which reminds me of one of those scary forests from horror movies you should never dare enter!
Once immersed in the sea of melons, the next task for our farm crew is to find the ripe ones. For watermelons there are a few “tell tales.” The one I find most reliable is the dead tendril, duh duh duh… Nearest to the stem of the watermelon, at the crook of the stem and vine, is a tiny, tender tendril. Once that tendril has died and turned brown, this almost always means that the melon is ready for harvesting. The other tell tale signs are a smooth outer texture along the surface of the melon, as well as a yellow spot on the underside of the fruit (though both the latter indicators I don’t fully trust!) And of course the best way to really make sure is to do the taste test. Yum.
We make our way through the rows, forming piles of melons to gather up when we have scoured the fields. The next step is to collect each melon, which weighs anywhere from 2 to 5 pounds, from its pile. In buckets, bins and stretched-out t-shirts we collect the crop, piling them into the trucks and trailers, bringing them up to our barn for distribution. Lastly, we get to put our delicious, unique, beautiful watermelons in our CSA share. This week every share was able to take home two melons. Watching folks walk away from pick-up, musing about whether or not they will make a melon gazpacho or just slice it up as soon as they get home, is about as delightful as it gets!
However, Fall is on its way, and the melons’ brief season will soon come to an end. As wonderful as the melons are, no one on the crew is too sad to see harvest time come to an end, as our bodies are now weary from the lifting, even if they are content from all the sugar!