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Connecticut Garden Journal: Harvesting Melons

Watermelon harvested from the garden.
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Watermelon harvested fresh from the garden.

Whether it's a cantaloupe, honeydew or watermelon, there's something about the sun warmed, sweet, juicy taste of a melon.

All of these melons grow well in our Connecticut gardens, but we do need to know when to harvest. Some melons are easy to spot when ripe and others take practice.

Probably the easiest melon to grow and know when it's ripe are musk melons or cantaloupes. Watch the netting on the cantaloupe skin. When it turns light brown give the fruit a gentle tug. If it slips off the vine, it's ripe. Also, check for the sweet, melon fragrance by sniffing the end of the fruit.

Honeydew melons are little more complicated. They don't slip off the vine and usually don't have a strong aroma. Harvest honeydews when the skin color changes to a yellow color and the blossom end has a little give to it when pressed.

Watermelons are probably the most confusing to know when to harvest. Like honeydews, they don't slip off the vine or have an aroma. The best clue is when the small, curly-cue vine that's closest to the fruit turns brown. You can also check the bottom of the melon to see if it's turned yellow. Some gardeners thump their watermelons and listen for the right sound when its ripe.

Melons ripen best with sunny, hot, dry weather, Cut back on watering as melons get large for best flavor. Protect ripening fruits from birds and mice with metal cages.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.