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stella1751
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I Am So Afraid: Watermelon Picking

It's time. Or is it? I have a Sugar Baby whose tendril is brown. I checked underneath, and its bottom is yellow. I thought, okay, I will pick it. Then, just to be careful, I checked every watermelon, all ages, in the bed. All of them have yellow bellies. They don't all have a brown tendril, but they definitely have yellow undersides.

I think that mulching in leaves are partially finished compost made all the bottoms yellow. Is that possible?

What happens if you leave a watermelon in the patch for too long? Does it explode? Rot? Go mushy?

Should I wait, or should I pick?
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I just went through the same thing with my Sugar Babies, I planted my seedlings on June 4th. I picked one at the end of July when they were also yellow on the bottom with a brown tendril and it was White inside. I could have cried as it was my biggest baby of them all.
Yesterday I tried again and they where ready. So much that when I went to cut it, it burst like a can of biscuits.

Mine also grow on mulch. hth

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Gary350
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I worked one summer during high school picking water melons in Griffin IN. We were instructed to turn the melons over, if they are yellow on the bottom pick them. If they are not yellow roll them back over. When I buy melons in the grocery store I always look at the bottom if it is yellow I buy it. Works every time.

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stella1751
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Ladybug027 wrote:I just went through the same thing with my Sugar Babies, I planted my seedlings on June 4th. I picked one at the end of July when they were also yellow on the bottom with a brown tendril and it was White inside. I could have cried as it was my biggest baby of them all.
Yesterday I tried again and they where ready. So much that when I went to cut it, it burst like a can of biscuits.

Mine also grow on mulch. hth
This is exactly what I fear, Ladybug027. I won't have many chances to get a watermelon. I have only about a half dozen in the bed. However, I planted seeds about the same time that you planted seedlings. Well, I planted them at the end of May, but they didn't come up until maybe the middle of June because the soil was too cold. Then they stalled for a long time because the weather was too cold. I'll bet it's not ready, based upon your experiences.

I'm going to have my neighbor come over today and check it. She's an elderly gardener who grew up in one of the southern states; I think it was Arkansas. They grew a lot of watermelons. I'll let her decide. I really want to eat at least one this year!
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watermelon ripeness

I never could make the thumping thing work (back when I used to have space for watermelones). Things I looked for: not just the tendril next to the melon brown and dead but the ones on either side of it as well. Also, it should get duller, with less contrast between the stripes and the rind at the soil spot should harden up so you can't scratch or dent it with a fingernail.
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stella1751
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Re: watermelon ripeness

rainbowgardener wrote: Also, it should get duller, with less contrast between the stripes . . .
That's extremely interesting. It did recently become duller, I mean, like really fast. That kind of worried me, how it went from stripes to dark green with barely discernible stripes in about three days. I'm crossing my fingers now and feeling pretty hopeful!
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I can't tell the difference in thumping them either. I did notice that the yellowing on the bottom deepening in shade.
As for the stripes, My never had any stripes, Just solid dark green :/
Keep us posted Stella, I got my fingers crossed for ya!

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So how long is the "window" of perfection on a watermelon? Do we have to time it exactly right? Or is a watermelon "good" on the vine for a long time? Days? Weeks? Hours? :D

Mine are nowhere near ready, but I just don't want to be caught sleeping!
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Sugar Baby 85 day melon. I think I would go 85 days from planting out if you planted plants. Add a week or 10 days if you planted seed.

Also from the description on the seed co site:
Fruit: Thin, hard, tough rind w/distinct stripes when immature, becoming almost black when ripe.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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stella1751
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jal_ut wrote:Sugar Baby 85 day melon. I think I would go 85 days from planting out if you planted plants. Add a week or 10 days if you planted seed.

Also from the description on the seed co site:
Fruit: Thin, hard, tough rind w/distinct stripes when immature, becoming almost black when ripe.
That is extremely helpful information, Jal_UT; thanks! I tested the yellow rind with my fingernail last night, and I was able to scratch it. I'm going to give it a while longer based upon the fingernail test and your math. I see from an old posting of mine that the Fordhooks came up on June 8. On June 10, we got down to 37 degrees. If memory serves, the Sugar Babies still weren't up then and probably came up a few days later. If they emerged on, say, June 15, then the plants are now 76 days old. I'm going to give it either one more week or until I can't scratch its yellow rind.

Interestingly, one of the Fordhooks looks and sounds more ready than this short-season Sugar Baby. I'm going to test its rind today. It seems kind of small, though. Growing watermelons is a very stressful endeavor!
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Stella, be sure to let us know how the watermelon turns and and maybe even post pics!

I want to start some indoors ahead of time and try growing some next year.
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i've SOLD a lot of sugar babies - but not grown them. all mature ones i've ever come in contact with (hundreds, over the years) are not noticeably striped at all...if you're witnessing a color change away from striped, towards darker, more single-colored, that's what i'd use as a guide.

how many melons do you have? i think you've gotta try one (probably the one that seems most mature, if there is one like that), if only to avoid them all being just a bit past by the time you see enough of the various signals people are throwing out there for you. i mean, one may be perfect right now! is that worth the risk of waiting?

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I'm having the same problem...
I planted my Black DIamond mellons on 4/27. Tey should of been mature in 100 days (8/1)
Here we are almost to 9/1, and I hav only gotten 6 mellons.
Of those the one's I have picked have been 30 lbs or more with a few 45 lbs.
EVERY one I have picked had the tendril brown and dried out (had been about a week or so) and all of them are FAR from ripe.
The last two only had about a spoonful of red meat.
I'm at my wits end. This is So frustrating.
I've given up on having ANY clue when to pick them. One mellon I tried to leave longer than the others to see if ift would mature more. I left it about a week longer and it was rotten.
SO I can't figure out a way to know when is a good time to pick. Each have had a creamy yellow bottom, but I'm having no luck
Currently I have about 20 on the vies about the size of a bowling ball. I am surprised they are still putting on at this late date.

PLEASE someone throw me some suggestion, or ideas what is wrong. I'm growing SO MANY mellons and never get to eat one.
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stella1751
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!potatoes! wrote:i've SOLD a lot of sugar babies - but not grown them. all mature ones i've ever come in contact with (hundreds, over the years) are not noticeably striped at all...if you're witnessing a color change away from striped, towards darker, more single-colored, that's what i'd use as a guide.

how many melons do you have? i think you've gotta try one (probably the one that seems most mature, if there is one like that), if only to avoid them all being just a bit past by the time you see enough of the various signals people are throwing out there for you. i mean, one may be perfect right now! is that worth the risk of waiting?
I'm going to try the Fordhook. It is now solid black-green. The underside is yellow. The tendril is brown. It has the best-sounding thump, like a drum compared to the others. Like I said, though, I'm afraid. I have only six to eight to experiment with. (I've lost track with all the foliage.) You are right. What if I wait too long on all of them and then get nothing?
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stella1751 wrote:I'm going to try the Fordhook.
An event of this magnitude _must_ be captured on video, preferably with some dramatic music.
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stella1751
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TheWaterbug wrote:
stella1751 wrote:I'm going to try the Fordhook.
An event of this magnitude _must_ be captured on video, preferably with some dramatic music.
The dog began humming the theme from Jaws when I picked up the knife. Here's the results of the harvest:

[img]https://i801.photobucket.com/albums/yy292/mitbah/Aug_30_Fordhook.jpg[/img]

Hey, it is still tasty, kind of. I should have gone with the Sugar Baby :roll:
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I have found that the Charleston Grey Watermelon is a good one for this area. It is supposed to be an 85 day melon, but usually takes 100 days (from planting seed) or a little more to get ripe. We often get a frost before I harvest.

I think that the 85 day thing may be correct in the area where the cultivar was developed, but there are more factors involved such as the average temperature, the availability of pollinators, The weather when the plant is about to bloom etc.

I find that most crops take more days to maturity in this climate than it calls for on the description.

This tip was found on a seed packet: "Tap the watermelon with your knuckles, and if it sounds hollow, it's ready."

Melon growers need patience!
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Hmmm. I tested my melons by knocking on them. If they sounded hollow I knew they were close. Mine sounded really really hollow. Also, they had a yellow spot on them, but I rolled my melons to keep an eye on the outside. Another thing, I had a cream colored "belly Button" on my melons (opposite side of the stem).

Here are my results.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=37983

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stella1751
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MyDeadPlant, I looked at your watermelons and was green with envy. I haven't tried another one yet. I was going to pick the biggest Sugar Baby, but then its stripes went and appeared again. Once the stripes are gone again, I'm gonna pick that puppy!
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Only thing I can say is, Knock on it like you would a door. If it sounds hollow , pick that puppy LOL. Also make sure the grow time is correct like the other poster in this thread said. I grew mine stright from seed. 92 days is the recommended grow time for my melons. I picked the 3 big ones at 93 days.
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MrDeadPlant wrote:Also make sure the grow time is correct like the other poster in this thread said. I grew mine stright from seed. 92 days is the recommended grow time for my melons. I picked the 3 big ones at 93 days.
Thats what has me so confused... my grow time is all screwed up.
I planted on 4/27.. they are 100 day mellons. 100 days would of been 8/1. On 8/1 I had a couple mellons, and lots and lots of vines. and still lots of blooms. It is now 9/1 and I have lots and lots of mellons (about 20 bowling ball sized ones). Don't know why I am getting so many so late... and now the vines are starting to wither... I am afraid these will rot before they mature. I have had three do that so far...
I have no clue what is going on. It has been hot and dry and I water about once a week. Obviously SOMETHING has gone right since I have 65 feet of vines out of just a couple seeds...
I am getting the bad feeling I will get no mellons out of all this.
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Somthing else I did that might have made the difference. When my plants started going really good, my vines were about 2 feet long , I dumped some blood meal on all my plants. When my vines were huge, I mean they were thier own little rain forest, they started getting flowers/ small watermelons I dumped some 10/10/10 on them. I wanted to use Kelp meal but I couldnt find it in my area.

Here is exactly what I used.

[img]https://cache.planetnatural.com/planetnatural/images/large/dried-blood-lg.jpg[/img]

And

https://www.teakwickerandmore.com/Espoma-10-10-10-Quick-Solutions-Garden-Food-GF5105-5-AVB1007.html?refid=SS3-AVB1007&SSAID=254378&refid=SS254378&df=1
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pickupguy07
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I've also watered mine, and occasionally fertilized it with 10-10-10.
Lots of vines... now also lots of mellows, but vines are dying.
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I had a similar problem with determining when they are done. I don't have sugar babies, I don't even know what variety they are... All the tag said was "Watermelon" lol.

Anyways, I waited until the tendrils were brown and then picked it about a week later. I wish I would have waited just a bit longer because it wasn't completely ripe and it tasted a bit starchy. Still good watermelon though!

[img]https://i294.photobucket.com/albums/mm113/drew4allyou/0828111853-00.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i294.photobucket.com/albums/mm113/drew4allyou/0828111939-00.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i294.photobucket.com/albums/mm113/drew4allyou/0828111939-01.jpg[/img]

I heard they are supposed to have a strong watermelon smell when they are ripe. This was VERY true of my cantaloupes and this watermelon didn't really smell.

So maybe if I left it until it did smell it would have been done? Have to sniff a supermarket one the next time I go!

BTW, that watermelon weighed in at 26.5 pounds.

pickupguy07
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nice mellons.. I'm afraid I'm gonna get nothing out of about 40 mellons..
I tried to smell my mellons, and picked up a few at the store and smelled nothing.. LOL

My mellons weigh in from 40 to 50 pounds.. thats why I get confused. I guess I think.. "The tendril has been dead 7-10 days,.. they are SO huge... SURELY they have to be ripe"

I went from that to now they are rotting on the vine at a small size
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At least you were able to grow some this year, after all your fretting about!

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SPierce wrote:At least you were able to grow some this year, after all your fretting about!
LOL yeah.. on the other hand.. having getting none so far; and all the effort, baby-sitting, watering, etc... Might of been better of if they'd just died ion the first place.. lol
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I've tried watermelons several times, and the best I ever got was one the size of a softball. So, I guess that you even have any large ones really is something to be proud of.

I wonder why the home gardener has such a hard time telling when it's ripe, but the commercial grower always seem to have ripe ones (at least, the stores always do :roll:)?
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pickupguy07
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When my dad was growin up his family grew watermellon commericially...
They never had any problems... he said he's never saw mellows act like these have.. very weird.
I think next year I'm going to try a different type.. Can't stand this same frustration again.
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stella1751
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pickupguy07 wrote:
SPierce wrote:At least you were able to grow some this year, after all your fretting about!
LOL yeah.. on the other hand.. having getting none so far; and all the effort, baby-sitting, watering, etc... Might of been better of if they'd just died ion the first place.. lol
One day, you will get a watermelon. It will be perfect. You will look back and remember this year, and you will feel twice as proud as if you'd batted a thousand the very first year. That's one of the fun things about gardening: trying, failing, trying again, failing again, and then . . . Success! The success is twice as sweet if you have a failure or two behind you.

Man, if I lived in Georgia, I would not mess around with a Black Diamond. I would grow a Carolina Cross every single year. Last year, I tried watermelons for the first time and completely blew it. I couldn't even grow a short-season Fordhook. This year, Mother Nature willing, I will get both a ripe Sugar Baby and a ripe Fordhook. Next year, if I enjoy a small success this year, I'm gonna get my neighbor to build me a cold frame so I can try a Crimson Sweet.

One variety at a time, I am working my way toward the greatest challenge of all. Last year, this year, next year--all of these are preparatory exercises, sort of like gardener gymastics, to get me ready for the real watermelon I am dying to try: the Carolina Cross, the king of watermelons.

Sure, it probably can't be done, not up here in the High Plains, but it's worth a shot. However, if I lived in Georgia, I would not waste my time on anything but watermelon royalty 8)
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pickupguy07
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this being my first year.. I wasn't really sure what was best for my area. Just took what my local Farm & Garden suggested.
So fill me in on this kind you mentioned... Do they have any with yellow meat. Seems I have always found yellow meat to be sweeter..??
Life is great..... but if you get lemons - compost them :-)
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stella1751
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The Carolina Cross is the giant of watermelons. It will go 200 pounds. If you grow one, you grow it for a village, not a family :lol:
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pickupguy07
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:shock: :shock: :shock:
Shame there's not any way (I know of) to preserve all that good stuff inside
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stella1751
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I think people who grow them must give them away or have a huge party. You know, I think you can freeze watermelon, but I'm not certain. However, to grow one of those monsters, you have to practice on the little ones. You don't want to pick this one at the wrong time. If it wasn't ripe, you would kick yourself all the way to North Carolina. If it was too ripe and blew up in your garden, your neighbors would be picking seeds out of their hair :lol:
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Okay, now it's my turn for Watermelon Roulette!

Here's my Moon and Stars melon:
[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/MoonAndStarsMelon_web.jpg[/img]

The tendril is brown, but that could be because of the damage near the base:
[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/MoonAndStarsTendril_web.jpg[/img]

Note that actual base of the tendril is still green.

The underside is yellow:
[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/MoonAndStarsUnderside_web.jpg[/img]

So, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Garden Jury, what say you? Pick or Patience?

I also have two other melons elsewhere at about the same stage, or maybe a week younger.
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Tilde
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No idea, but on the preservation thread, I recall pickled watermelon and watermelon wine.
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it dehydrates into a pretty awesome sticky candy, too.

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stella1751
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I've been picking one watermelon a week since I started this thread, and I still haven't gotten a ripe one. They are, however, becoming a darker pink as I go along :D

I found a website that includes in its list of ways to tell that the watermelon is ready to pick that it will separate easily from its stem when it's ready. I tried that on the last two and, with sufficient twisting and tearing, found the watermelon very easy to pull from the vine.

I have four watermelons left. Two are big; two aren't worth the effort of picking. The vines are half dead from the hard freeze we had September 22, but they're hanging in there. In five days, a lengthy cold spell is moving in, and I will not bother covering that bed. I did better with them this year than I did last year. Next year, I will have success. I'm not ready for the big ones yet. The year they begin ripening in August, well, then I will know I have done it right.

My neighbor is handy with wood. I am giving him enough supplies to build one cold frame for each of us. Next year, I will start mine under a cold frame. Ha! One day I will grow a ripe watermelon in Wyoming :twisted:
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Sugar Baby's tend to either be too green to pick or they split open. I don't sell melons so I like to wait for Sugar Baby's to split before I pick them. Yes, sometimes they explode.

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I chickened out and flew to Chicago for the week.

I will resume my indecision when I return on Saturday!
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