This year I decided to try my hand at growing rock melons and faced the challenge of how to tell when rock melons are ready to pick. The descriptions I read were a bit confusing but then I ended up with 3 melons side by side at different stages and once I saw it, it was so obvious. So I thought I would share the pictures with you.
I’ve never grown any melons previously because I didn’t have enough space but having expanded my fruit and vegetable growing spaces, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try it out. I bought a rock melon and a watermelon seedling and planted them in a clear space near my fruit trees. The labels said that they would grow to approx 50cm x 50cm – I didn’t believe a word of that! but I had a few spare square metres and they could spread out under the fruit trees if required.
The plants spread quickly and very soon I had a baby melon but it didn’t look anything like a rock melon to me. It was smooth greenish white with green stripes and rock melons are usually brownish with a basket-weave sort of a finish to them. I started to think perhaps the seedlings had been mislabeled and it was some other sort of melon. But some further investigation confirmed that this was definitely a rock melon. According to the information I read, the rind changes color from green or grey to yellow when it is ready to pick. Another guide said that you could tell when it was ripe when the underlying skin turned from white to yellow.
We have had such a bizarre summer this year – very hot and humid with lots of rain (and wind). Many crops are ripening up to a month early and I really didn’t have any idea when to expect the melons to ripen anyway. I kept going out to look at my rock melons and they just looked white with green stripes but there was a sort of basket-weave look appearing on them (which was reassuring). Then one day I went out and there were 3 melons all in a row and one of them (when compared with the other ones) definitely had a yellowish look to the skin. When I went closer it had a characteristic ripe melon smell so I felt confident to pick it – and it was perfect! I have been enjoying melon for breakfast all week.
I am keeping a close eye on the others as well because several lots of information say that the melons on a plant can ripen in very close sequence.
Next year I will definitely try growing them again but this time I will try growing them up a trellis of some sort (and find a way to support the melons hanging down) to keep them more under control than they were this year.