What follows are the results of the 2012 Melon Trial at Foothill Farm. Many thanks to the USDA for providing Seed. Many of these seeds were donated by other farmers from around the world. Over half of these seeds were purchased by Foothill Farm. Not every melon in this trial is open-pollinated, some are hybrids. Seeds were started in trays beginning the week of May 11, and transplanting was completed by July 4. With this many melons, it would not be possible to plant or transplant all of these at one time. Nor did we want to harvest them all at one time!
The fields were all composted, calcium was added and the seeds were started with Endomycorrhizae. One application of fish emulsion was applied the second week after transplanting. The melons were watered underground using drip irrigation. On August 29, the first melon that was harvested was Yellow JB. This melon went on to re-flower and make melons 3x during the season. The last melons harvested came out of the field the week of October 31.
|August 24, Yellow JB|
We harvested melons in pairs, one person calling out the stake number and harvesting, while the other labeled the melons and placed them in the wagon.
|Sakata Sweet is the small round green melon in the wagon trailer.|
Not every melon was harvested at it's optimum. Some were harvested, and tested and delivered to the CSA without photographs being taken. At one point so many melons were ripe that a few did get mixed up and we were unable to tell which was which because the photos were taken without labels in the photos.
|Storage melons harvested September 17, 2012|
|By the end of the season, the melons were a solid mat, with no path's left|
For those of you who helped taste all these melons, thank you.
Our original intent with this trial was both to find more melons that are not listed in the seed catalogs, so that we could increase diversity. And secondly to find storage melons. Melons that will hold out for several weeks after picking, so that we can increase the number of weeks our CSA receives melons.
By far the melon that we found least likely to ever grow again was Charentais. It cannot be transported and it doesn't keep. Amongst the Spanish Melons that are the longest keepers, there's a huge range of taste and sweetness. The best of these is not the sweetest! Not every melon that does well in San Martin will do well in your climate. Several of these are early, Collective Farm Woman, Cream of Sask, Farthest North Mix, etc.. The last melons to come out of the field were the Casabas. The Bidwell Casaba is the very latest.
And a huge surprise was that one of the best melons of the whole season, came from a farmer in Cortona, Italy. Thank you Emanuele!
I especially want to thank Leo for his long hours in the field, preparing beds, planting, and harvesting. And Zack who helped harvest, label and taste melons.