Melon season is here! It's never much fun to haul truckloads of heavy melons out of a field on what inevitably ends up being the dog days of summer, but it sure does make them taste better when we're done! And I'm so glad to see dry weather of late on our farm. Melons ripen up best in hot, dry conditions. The past two summers have run cool and very wet. All that rainwater dilutes the flavor of the melons; they end up tasting flat and washed-out, if they don't just rot in place before they ripen. But hooray! we've been fairly dry here lately, and I think it's a more delicious melon harvest than we've had in a while. We have four different kinds of melons (I know, I can't just grow one kind of anything), so here's a little run-down as to what's what:
All of our watermelons are large, and have seeds. Modern varieties of seedless watermelons are all grown from genetically modified seed, and we don't play that game here. I am incessantly asked by you all for small watermelons. To me, the 'midget' or 'personal' types just don't have a good flavor. The red watermelons run about 10-15 pounds each; the orange watermelons average 15-25 pounds apiece. Orange watermelons? Yes! These are my favorites, with an intensely fruity, almost tropical flavor. Cantaloupes are cantaloupes, nothing unusual there. 'Sensation' melons are a new crop we trialed last summer, and were an instant hit. These have soft white flesh that tastes much like the best, perfectly ripe pear you ever ate, with just a hint of cinnamon.
I rambled on for a good long while last week on how excessively hot summer temperatures can shut down some of our summer crops. Sometimes we see an immediate effect; sometimes the effects don't tangibly show up in our harvests until weeks later. The summer squash is always the first to shut down; I picked just a few fruits this morning, and don't expect much more the rest of this week, so I've left it off the list for now. Lots of Sungold cherry tomatoes, but far less slicers and heirloom tomatoes this week, so no price breaks on larger quantities at the moment. That would be the result of near 100-degree weather the last few weeks of June, as it takes about a month in ideal conditions to go from tomato blossom to ripe tomatoes. There are plenty more green tomatoes on most of the vines; just not many ripe ones this week. We have what looks like a good supply of beans and cucumbers for now, but that may very likely change for next week. I often run the drip irrigation at a trickle through steamy afternoons in an attempt to keep the plants' roots cooler and keep the foliage from wilting, but the extra water doesn't do anything for blooms high in the plant canopy struggling to set fruit.
Red bell peppers are already here, along with a few orange bells, and the intensely sweet little Italian Marconi peppers. The basil plants are about the size of a Volkswagon, so our big 'pesto-maker' bags are back. Enough eggplant to feed an army; if you haven't tried the 'Rosa Bianca' eggplants yet, do give them a try. They have a sweeter flavor and firmer texture than regular eggplant...cut them into bite-sized pieces and saute in a little olive oil with your favorite seasonings, and you can almost imagine you're eating sauteed shiitake mushrooms!
Thank you all so much for your business, eat well, and have yourself a great week!