Every year I sow melon seeds with great anticipation. I like a bit of variety with my melons and I have the room, so I start off with Sugar Baby Watermelon. It is always reliable and even in a poor summer the chances are you will get something. This season I got 4 somethings. Most were around the 5 kg mark which is pretty big for a Sugar Baby. Then I sow some of the giant watermelons. The ones found in the Richard Scarry picture books when I was a kid. I’d never seen one in real life as a child, so I still get a little thrill having them in my garden. But this season the plants for whatever reason didn’t establish in my garden, no matter how many times I sowed seed.
Then I pop in some other melons, normally an orange rock melon, a green honeydew and something else. This season my something else sounded so sophisticated I just had to grow it… Apparently, it paired well with cheese and walnuts and a sweet dessert wine. I could just see myself of an autumnal evening with my cheese and walnuts and sipping away at my sweet dessert wine. Unfortunately, that isn’t how my life looks right now, and evenings are spent in a more chaotic fashion. Maybe in a few years when my birds have flown the nest. Having said that, the melon was a bit bland, so maybe not… unless it was the season?
My rock melon and honeydew let me down too, but in a different way. They were eager to please and started out by setting a multitude of cute little fuzzy fruit. But then the powdery mildew hit and as it is an inevitable summer occurrence that quickly overwhelms plants, over the years I have lost the will to fight it and what will be will be. It certainly gives me a much-needed break from the zucchinis. If you are patient the plants tend to pick up again towards the end of the season and grow through the problem and proudly wave fresh unblemished leaves at you. This is often enough to ensure a good harvest of most of the victims in my garden.
However, this season it must have been terribly bad as all my other melons curled up their toes and died, but not before presenting tennis ball sized fruit, perfectly ripe and sending their sweet scent into the air as a final act. I was quite pleased with myself as I managed to harvest each and every one at the perfect point when the stem separates easily and the fruit falls into my hand. In previous seasons it is a race again the rats who seem to notice the melons in the darkness between a melon being unripe one day and ripe the next and beat me to them.
Unfortunately, the enormously and deliciously sweet watermelons were more favorable than the small brown and green orbs hanging out in the fridge and were ignored every time melon was up for the daily sweet treat. Each time I reached into the fridge for milk, I felt a sense of impending loss. If I didn’t do something soon the entire crop would be wasted. I needed a plan. A quick search on the great big internet suggested serving them in a fancy way – wrapped in prosciutto or as a sorbet. I could have gone with the sorbet, but my last attempt at ice cream using the left-over cream and custard from Christmas hadn’t been an overwhelming success.
Feeling a little burned from the previous frozen experience I remembered a dusty old cookbook with really old recipes for jams, pickles, and chutneys from before my time. There had to be something in there that had fallen out of popularity that I could inject life into. It turns out 1963 was a good year! There was an easy recipe for melon jam that only needed melons, sugar, and lemons! Just the kind of solution I was looking for. So, I whipped it up and am so pleased to have 11 scrumptious jars of melon jam I know the kids will spread thickly across they hot toast! And so, my crop is saved from being overlooked and will now be the star of the pantry.
Now I need to do the dishes, everything I touch seems to be sticky!
Come again soon – Autumn is really making itself at home and so I need to embrace it rather than continue to mourn the passing of summer.
Sarah the Gardener : o)
NB: I’m not a great one for following recipes exactly, but I have explained what I did in the words below the images so for the ‘recipe’ of sorts, click on all the pictures.