Volunteer

Growing watermelons is a dubious prospect in our climate. We simply don’t have the long hot summers that most varieties need, and though there are varieties that do better in the northwest, I’ve had mixed luck. Last year I tried planting a seedling from the grocery store and got two fruits: one that I cut open in September to find it unripe, and another that seemed to give up mid-season and wither away on the vine. This year I got seeds for a small seedless variety from Territorial, and they simply failed to germinate. This is the first time ever that I’ve had seeds from Territorial fail.

However, when I planted my corn I discovered a small volunteer watermelon plant poking cautiously up, and decided to leave it there. Why not? It could hang out under the corn and do its thing, and if I got something, great. I had no serious hopes, though. When I saw a melon growing, I still had no serious hopes. It got big — much bigger than the ones I got last year from that space — and I still expected nothing.

watermelon

Yesterday as I cleared out the old corn stalks I stumbled over the melon again (now ten inches long) and decided that it was time to see what this volunteer had produced. To my surprise, the thing had resisted rotting, and when we split it open it was full of pink, juicy flesh. I can’t say it’s the best watermelon I’ve ever had, but it’s certainly the best that I’ve ever grown.

Not that I can claim credit for anything except not hauling it out by the roots in spring. But this year I’m saving seed, and we’ll see if this phenomenon can be repeated.

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