Our winter CSA is harvested in four pickups over the months of November and December. Each 1/2 bushel of organic vegetables are harvested fresh from the fields or in the case of sweet potatoes and winter squashes from our stores of fall harvest.
Organic watermelons are in season late summer through the fall. Deep red, juicy, super sweet, delicious are descriptions often given to us by our market and CSA customers; we would have to agree. Everyone loves watermelon. Yes? August and September of each year are the times when melons are in peak harvest.
How We Grow Them
Seedless melons are our favorite but are the most difficult to grow as they are slow to germinate and require a pollinating plant. For this we plant rows of seeded, 30 lb watermelon every three row for cross pollination to the seedless plants. Most of the seedless melons are a 12-15 lb. fruit with an outer light green striping and juicy red center. The ample honey bees we have on the farm are critical to having a lot of melons set in the field.We will start the transplants in the greenhouse in early to mid June. The fields are prepared by spreading organic fertilizer, tilling, laying plastic beds and drip irrigation lines. Plants are translated on 30″ centers in the center of the beds. The low flow, low pressure irrigation system is turned on and the plants start to grow and spread. Depending on the rain (and this year we have had a lot), we will plow out the weeds between the rows one to two times. In one month’s time, the watermelons have covered the ground and small , yellow blooms appear. Melons are ready to harvest 80-90 days time.
Harvesting the melons can be back breaking, heavy work but is the kind of work that gives you a feeling of accomplishment and progress. The watermelons all typically ripen at the same time in a given patch and all the melons are picked up by hand and placed into storage bins. 40-70 melons will fit into a bin, depending on the size of the fruits.
How To Enjoy Them
I think it can safely be said that most people love a sweet watermelon. They are perfect for a family gathering, picnic, luncheon on the deck, kid’s school lunches or blending into a refreshing drink. An uncut melon an be left at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for a week or more. Once cut, the melons should be sliced up, eaten or stored wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Best served chilled, the seedless melons can be cubed and stored in refrigerator for many days.
Our organic cantaloupe are best of the season when august rolls around. The summer heat and sunshine ripen the fruits to a juicy, soft, sweet, orange flesh.
Planting the Cantaloupe:
Our organic cantaloupes are planted from mid may to the end of June. We will plant 4-5 acres of melons in 3 or more plantings of about one acre each. All the seeds are started in the greenhouses in small flats or seed trays and then transplanted into the field. We use a plastic mulch system for our organic production which reduces the amount of weeds around the plants by blocking the light and holding in soil moisture which conserves our irrigation. A small drip tape line is installed under the plastic right next to the plant that delivers the water directly to the root zone of the cantaloupe and not to the weeds between the rows. Plants will flower in 3-4 weeks from transplant and be pollinated by the many bees we have on the farm specifically for that purpose. Cantaloupes will be ready to harvest in approximately 70 days from day of transplant.
Harvesting the Cantaloupe:
We harvest the Cantaloupe in the morning hours before the sun has a chance to heat the melons up and before the have a chance to soak up the day’s heat. After cooling overnight, the melons are firmer and cooler in the center. Not all the melons ripen at the same time so we choose those melons that have a light tan to orange skin with a slight softness around the stem end. Green melons or immature melons are left on the plants to ripen in the next few days. Harvesting on a patch of melons will typically be done over a 10 day period with 2-3 pickings of fruit. Crews will work through the field selecting and piling up those melons that are ready. Next we toss the melons from one person to another and gently place them in the bins for transport. Reminiscent of grade school “field days” and the egg toss, harvesting melons is not much different!
Delivery, CSA and Farmers Markets
Our organic cantaloupes will make it into the CSA boxes several times throughout the season. As we move from patch to patch the cantaloupes are available from mid July to mid September. Succession planting is key in us having the melons available over a long harvest season and is why we will typically have four or more plantings.
We think the best way to consume our cantaloupes is chilling them in the fridge for a few hours and then slicing into chunks directly into a bowl. The sweet, orange flesh needs no additions and is perfect for any meal; breakfast, lunch or dinner. Like many of our organic fruits such as strawberries and blackberries, the cantaloupes are only here for a short season mid to late summer. Enjoy and come see us at the farmers markets.
Looking for something different in a cantaloupe recipe? check out our Mint, lime, cantaloupe chiller recipe, click here.
We grow a lot of organic tomatoes on Delvin Farms but by far one of the favorites among our family and customers alike is the Juliet Tomato. With a rich tomato flavor but sweet and small seeded, the part plum, part roma, part cherry tomato is so versatile in recipes.
Juliets are a meaty, firm textured tomato with just the right amount of sweetness to add them to salads, salsas, and spaghetti sauces. Eaten simply, we enjoy them sliced in half with a little salt or even with fresh mozzarella and basil. Like a mini roma, they are perfect on sandwiches or a toasted panini.
One of the first tomatoes we harvest in early June, Juliets are with us all summer and will be included in our organic CSA shares and all of our markets till early fall. From a growers perspective, we love the juliet because of the volume of tomatoes it produces on vigorous , indeterminate vines. Plants can grow in our high tunnels to lengths of 10,12,15 feet long and produce hundreds of blooms that turn into clusters of small grape size tomatoes. The fruits are crack resistant and generally all sized uniformly. The plants are the longest producing plants for us and will often keep putting on flowers and fruits well into the fall.