How to tell if watermelons are ripe for picking

by Lala

Yay! I’ve successfully grown a store bought Japanese watermelon from seed. If you recall I planted a red “personal” watermelon that is small enough for one person to hold in their hand and enjoy alone, as well as a large size yellow fleshed variety. The seeds were planted in late October, so it’s taken just over 3 months from seed to fruit.

The yellow ones were planted in the back square foot garden and later transplanted the hugelkulture bed that I used in 2014 to grow the giant pumpkins. They weren’t doing well at the back, possibly due to less light. The two yellow melon vines are now thriving in the front garden but I think it is too late in the season for them to make fruit. They’ve both grown flowers so maybe if the autumn is warm they may still make fruit.

So the small red variety grew a large vine and managed to keep one fruit, despite making many flowers. I now believe it is ready to pick. I’ve never grown melons before so I had to be sure to pick at the right time. I looked it up and these are the two consistent tips I’ve found.

1. The tendril closest to the fruit should be brown, not green.
(in the featured image at the top, you’ll see the tendril was still green back in December, compared to what it looks like on the pic taken today, below)
Ripe Japanese small watermelon

2. The spot under the melon where it touches the ground should be a creamy, yellowish color instead of white.
Underside of Japanese small watermelon

Both of these tips check out on this one.

I’ve read other tips about checking for ripeness by knocking on the fruit and listening for a hollow sound, and a few more articles debating what constitutes a “hollow sound”…is it a thunk, or a bass, or a woody sound etc. That’s not particularly helpful to me.

I’m saving this melon for dessert after Sunday lunch tomorrow, so that’s when I’ll pick it. Happy growing & gardening. Wish me luck with the remaining yellow melons.

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