Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Season of Melonmania!

A month ago, summer seemed to hold its greatest promise in abeyance as I watched green tomatoes sit idly in the garden, seemingly doing nothing whatsoever, day after day, hour after hour.
Of course June is not to blame.  It is mostly a month of spring, not summer, and the cause for my complaints is impatience overfed by long expectation:  in January, I wait for seed catalogs to be published; in February, I imagine the new plants I will grow; in March I germinate tiny seeds by the window; and in April and May I guard the fragile seedlings in cold frames against frost and heat.  No, June is not to blame at all!  It is simply the month when the cruelty of expectations bears its fruit. 

But no longer!  This years volunteer sunflowers are in bloom.   Tigerellas, Black from Tulas and Caspian Pink (above right) tomatoes are all coming into ripeness. 

This years biggest excitement is Sweet Freckles (right), a crenshaw melon that turns orange with brown freckles when fully ripe.  There is only 1 company (Adaptive Seeds) that sells it in North America.  On the left is Petit Gris de Rennes which, due to a year spent in the city of the same name, holds a special place for me.  It is a soft-ball sized french cantaloupe.   Will it recall days spent playing soccer by the Seiche river, or bicycle rides where the hay in the fields seem to shine mysteriously, as if invented in this location?  Perhaps not, but it just may, as the catalog notes "have orange flesh that is superbly sweet, flavorful and perfumed.... the favorite melon of the French melon expert and author Bruno Defay." 

Last but not least of all are the watermelons that hold their secrets the longest and best of all.  When are they ripe?  You can tap, you can search the vines for clues, but you will never truly know until a day in mid or late August when, unable to endure waiting any longer, you cut the vine and bring it into the kitchen.  The greatest moment of expectation for any gardener.