Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus, Family Cucurbitaceae)
About Producing Watermelon Seed
Well, the way that we process the seed is: invite some folks over, slice up the melons and get everyone to spit the seeds aiming at a bucket of water. For any remaining melons, work the flesh through your fingers to dislodge the seeds. Add a squirt of dishwashing soap to wash off residual sugars, swish the seeds around. The seeds tend to sink to the bottom and the pulp floats, so you can pour out the floatables and rinse the seed, then dump them on a screen or strainer to dry. That's it.
By the way, melons easily cross. Isolate your watermelon varieties by hand pollinating or other means or grow only one if you want to maintain pure seed. Long Island is one of the best places to grow melons and it always surprises me when I find so many gardeners that have the impression that they don't perform well here. The only problem with melons here at Flanders Bay Farm are the raccoons who have a sweet tooth and have learned to scratch a hole through the rind.
As surrounding development causes the deer and raccoon populations to visit the farm in increasing numbers, I can finally say the welcome mat is gone! At least in the garden areas.
I really liked these Early Canada melons. Small, oval and striped, I wasn't expecting the sugary and juicy flesh which had few seeds. Watch the tendril opposite the stem bearing the fruit. When it turns brown this watermelon is at it's peak. It ripens fast.
These medium sized melons look like cannonballs, like a small version of Black Diamond, but inside is this sweet yellow flesh. Originally from the USDA, collected in what was once Yugoslavia. People are always surprised when we cut these open. Although seedy (it just wouldn't be a watermelon without the seeds), they are a sure producer for us and are always high in sugar. A real treat.
Early Crimson Sweet x Charleston
A large round melon with sugary flesh of substance. A favorite in our testing trials. For a large melon, it is early, very productive and maintains it's size. Selection for consistent size, shape and quality is sure to result in a fine variety once stabilized.
A medley of melons awaiting our taste test
This year's surprise was this very nice golden rind variety from Asia named Golden Jubilee (available from Dimension Trade Company, Scappoose, OR ). It was the earliest to produce fruit and we found smaller, later fruits that we didn't harvest stayed in good shape for months in the field. This is a hybrid melon and it will be interesting to see what the second generation from the seeds of this melon will produce.
Cream of Saskatchewan
In the early 1980's we received several varieties of melon seed from collector, Curtis Slyvester Showell. Curtis had an unbelievable collection of melons from USDA and other sources including a large number of "white fleshed" melons. My favorite was one of the early white melons, Cream of Saskatchewan, it still is. It looks like a popular hybrid from the outside, Yellow Doll (a great hybrid melon) and it has the same tendency to split as you cut into it. When I sink my teeth into a cold slice of "Saskatchewan", I can't help but think I'm eating a fine Italian Lemon Ice.