Telling when a melon is ready to be harvested can be a challenge, or it may be quite easy. It all depends on the type of melon.
Let’s start with the easy one. Muskmelons are one of those crops that tell you when they are ready to be picked. This can help you not only harvest melons at the correct time but also choose good melons when shopping.
As a melon ripens, a layer of cells around the stem softens so the melon detaches easily from the vine. This is called “slipping” and will leave a dish shaped scar at the point of stem attachment. When harvesting melons, put a little pressure where the vine attaches to the fruit. If ripe, it will release or “slip.”
When choosing a melon from those that have already been harvested, look for a clean, dish shaped scar. Also, ripe melons have a pleasant, musky aroma if the melons are at room temperature (not refrigerated).
Watermelons can be more difficult and growers often use several techniques to tell when to harvest.
Look for the tendril that attaches at the same point as the melon to dry and turn brown. On some varieties this will need to be completely dried before the watermelon is ripe. On others it will only need to be in the process of turning brown.
The surface of a ripening melon develops a surface roughness (sometimes called “sugar bumps”) near the base of the fruit.
Ripe watermelons normally develop a yellow color on the “ground spot” when ripe. This is the area of the melon that contacts the ground.
You may be tempted to walk away from your garden after the first frost, but doing a simple clean up can greatly impact your garden next spring. It is important to get rid of leftover plant debris in annual flower beds and vegetable gardens to reduce the risk of pests and diseases.
Do you need a second chance with your garden this year? Lucky for you, fall is an excellent time for gardening in Kansas. Growing conditions are cooler in fall than spring, resulting in higher yields and better flavor. Some plants actually prefer the cooler temperatures and shorter days of fall.
Planting a fall garden is just like planting a spring garden with some big advantages. You will find the weed pressure to be much less and insect problems may be far fewer than in a spring garden. Seeds will germinate rapidly, so you will have crops up and growing in just a few days, compared to several weeks in the spring.
Is your garden struggling to do well in this hot, dry weather we have had lately? Extended periods of high temperatures, like the 100 degree weeks we have seen, can really take a toll on our gardens. The most important thing you can do is keep everything watered, you don’t want your plants heat and water stressed. Tomatoes tend to be one of the pickiest vegetables, and even stop producing fruit, because of lack of pollination, when night temperature remain above 75 degrees.