Thirsty Melons

There are more than 250 types of melons cultivated around the world, and all the one’s with seeds in the center are descended from the same species of musk melon whose origin was the Fertile Crescent, or what we now call the Middle East.

Melons are desert plants and the best way to ripen one to full maturity is to use dry-farming techniques and then leave it on the vine until the last moment before it is eaten. The fact that most large-scale melon growers use frequent applied-watering methods and pick the melons early to facilitate transport means that it is almost impossible to find a superlative melon at a supermarket. However, a well-timed melon foray to your local Farmers Market (or better still a roadside farm-stand) during the late summer season can be one of the culinary highlights of the year.

The problem with the frequent watering methods employed by most commercial growers who supply the melons to supermarkets is that they result in melons with significantly lower Brix* levels than what can be acheived by a small water-wise farmer.

The whole point of the dry-farming technique is to enrich the soil early in the spring and then to only apply water sparingly throughout the growing season. This serves to urge the plant’s tap root to delve deep into the soil in order to find the moisture and nutrients it needs to develop its full flavor potential. Brix is much more than merely the measure of a plant’s sugar content. It also indicates the presence of amino acids, oils, proteins, flavonoids, minerals, and other tasty elements within the ripened fruit.