August 17, 2006

I’ve almost decided that I don’t dislike cantaloupes. My entire life I’ve hated them, those hard, tasteless orange balls that came from the grogery store while I was growing up. After I left home, I certainly would never purchase a cantaloupe. After all, they were yucky. Then the years wore on, and people would come to our stand at the Farmer’s Market asking for melons. Well, I thought maybe we should grow some to sell to those silly people who like cantaloupe. So this year we planted Charentais, Jenny Lind, Tigger and Noir des Carmes. Those are three heirloom melons, two of them are of French ancestry. About 2 weeks ago the dark-green/black Noir des Carmes started ripening. One minute they are impossible to see and the next minute they are mottled green and yellow. We overwatered them, the nearly ripe ones split open and suddenly I had to do something with the flesh of six melons. I sliced them all into a big storage bag, and started eating them. I reluctantly had to admit they weren’t bad. Then we dug the prosciutto out of the freezer and wrapped the melon up in that, which further elevated the experience. Lovely.

This week I’ve been eyeballing the traditional-looking cantaloupes out there, which I thought were the Charentais. It seemed like they were taking rather a long time to ripen, so I thought I’d check. I cut it open, and found the entire insides except for the seeds were bright green. After a moment of thinking, I realized that these must be the Jenny Lind melons (which I thought were honeydews, oh well). It wasn’t quite fully ripe, but it was very, very tasty. Sugary. Just how I tend to like things. So I can only imagine the possibilities for when the fruit is fully ripe. I checked on the internet to learn how to tell when a melon is ripe…we’ll see how that advice turns out. Something about looking for cracked stems, whatever that means. So this means, by process of elimination, that since the thing that looks like a cantaloupe out in the field is the green one, then the green one that looks like a honeydew must be the orange cantaloupe. Lost? So are we…..

There is a side-note I’d like to share. Sometimes heirloom varieties have a very interesting story connected to them. The Jenny Lind melon is named after a real woman. All that is known about her is summed up by this old advertisement: 

It’s sad, in a way, that all that is left of someone’s wonderful talent is that they have a cantaloupe named after them, long after all other remembrances are gone. Still, I guess a fruit is better than nothing.


The flowers are so pretty. Hundreds of feet of zinnias are coming into bloom, both at our farm and at Drew’s. The bold, big flowers in their loud colors just look so cheerful, as do the unusual and striking sunflowers. Flower sales are going very well.

On this last Sunday, our south field changed for the next 20 years…the almond trees are planted. Row after row of perfect little trees, all in a line. You would think that 5.5 acres is a lot of planting, but with a 25+ person work crew it goes surprisingly fast. I continue to be amazed at how much knowledge and experience goes into the preparation for a planting like this. It seems simple, get a shovel and plant the tree. But the soil preparation involved to do the job right was tremendous, as was the installation of a functional irrigation system. Drew makes it look easy, which is the hallmark of anyone that is really good at what they do. It seems so simple, until you try it yourself….

So far this summer most crops have done very well. The notable exception is the string beans, which for reasons unknown are not….making beans. Every year it’s something, so better the beans than anything else. They’re a hassle to pick anyway, so maybe nature is doing us a favor!

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