Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables

Delicious and Nutritious -- That's Watermelon!

by Susan Littlefield

What's sweet, delicious, easy to grow -- and one of the most healthful crops you can harvest from your garden? Why, watermelon, of course! Just one serving of watermelon gives you about a third of your daily requirement of Vitamins A and C, an ample amount of potassium and the healthful antioxidant lycopene, all for only about 80 calories. And the taste of its crisp, juicy flesh is the essence of summer.

Watermelons have made a long journey to get to our fields and gardens. They are thought to have originated in central and southern Africa almost 5000 years ago. From there they made their way along trade routes to Egypt and on to India, China, and Europe, where they became a popular crop in the warm Mediterranean countries. Watermelons were brought to the New World with colonists and African slaves by the 1500s and were eagerly taken up and cultivated by native American tribes. Now, centuries later, we have a mind-boggling array of watermelon varieties to choose from -- ones with red, yellow and orange flesh; ones with seeds or without; large oblongs weighing as much as 130 pounds and little round icebox melons that tip the scales at a mere 6-10 pounds. So choose from the many watermelons we offer for a harvest next summer of health and good taste.

A Medley of Watermelons

Watermelons are our specialty! Here is just a sampling of the many varieties we carry -- open-pollinated and hybrid, seeded and seedless.

'Big Stripe' (Large Seed) (85 days)— The large oblong fruits of this seeded hybrid average as much as 30 pounds and have sweet red flesh.

'Desert Storm' (80-85 days) —An early, very uniform, high-yielding hybrid variety with sweet, crisp red flesh and small, mottled brown seeds.

'Mid-Night' (80-85 days) —Round fruits average 15-18 pounds and have a beautiful, velvety dark rind and sweet red flesh.

'Cobb Gem' (100 days) —One of the largest melons around, this open-pollinated variety produces fruits weighing as much as 130 pounds!

'Dixielee' (90 days) —Round melons with smooth, striped rinds, attractive red flesh and black seeds average 20-30 pounds and ship well.

'Orange Crisp' (92 days) —This seedless variety produces round-oval, 14-18 pound fruits with vibrant orange flesh that is very crisp and sweet.

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