By the time you read this it’ll be too late to do anything about it, but the question is what to do with over three dozen dead ripe cantaloupes when it takes you three days to eat just one.
These cantaloupes, mind you, are fresher and as large or larger than any you will find in any produce aisle. In fact, they have just been picked and a few are still out there hanging onto the garden’s vines. They are also the tastiest melons I have ever sunk my teeth into.
Actually, about a dozen 10- to 15-pound watermelons also came into ripe perfection at the same time as the cantaloupes, but they will keep for a couple or three weeks and there is no shortage of kin folk and neighbors ready to take them off our hands. Unfortunately, a lot of people who love watermelon will not touch a cantaloupe with a 10 foot pole. I much prefer cantaloupe and usually eat it with two or three meals every day throughout warm weather.
Loretta usually gets me a few precut slices every time she does the weekly grocery shopping between April and November, except for the 30 days or so when we have some in the garden during July and August. Usually I stagger the garden plantings to just two plants each time about 10 days apart from late April through early June and that keeps me and my cantaloupe loving friends with a steady supply for several weeks. The garden variety I like to grow, Hale’s Best, is an old heirloom standby that puts grocery store cantaloupes to shame.
However, over the last two years my brother Andy has planted and tended the garden because I am too physically incapacitated to do any serious gardening. Andy lives 130 miles away and he can’t just drop everything and run to the garden every time it needs attention. This year I started all the plants, more than a half a dozen of them, at the same time. Andy put them all in the garden at the same time and right now they are all ripe at the same time.
We spent the weekend pawning off cantaloupes to nearly everyone we know in three counties and Loretta, at this late Monday afternoon writing, is delivering cantaloupes to folks in Lancaster and Lincoln County. She has discovered that almost everybody is fonder of cantaloupe if she sweetens the offer with a couple of very large heirloom tomatoes, a few banana or bell peppers and a couple of cucumbers. The garden is also covered up with numerous varieties of those. It looks like it will remain that way until frost.
In the meantime, I have already gotten far more column fodder from the garden this year than in any previous gardening season. And if things out there — other than melons — keep progressing at the current rate, we’ve only just begun.
Andy spent a long shift in the garden last Saturday and it now looks better than any fall garden I have ever grown. We are still not prematurely counting on a lot of hatching before it actually happens but we have over 300 row feet of pole beans budding and ready to burst into full bloom.
All I did was find the seed, and then Andy sowed three different kinds of lettuce and one variety each of beets, spinach and curly mustard. Loretta is looking for turnip seeds at this very minute. Andy hoed and fertilized 300 row feet of Bodacious sweet corn that started tasseling after he left on Sunday. Then, at noon today, we had nearly three hours of soak-in, hard drizzle, rain commence with near perfect timing. The seeds should sprout and the fertilizer should soak in exactly where it was supposed to go. I am happier than a cat with a bowl full of just-skimmed cream.
If anyone sees my old friend Tannie Cornett of Ulvah, please tell her that the “Babe Beans” seed she sent to get me are starting to look like a kudzu thicket. I hope hers are doing as well if she hasn’t already harvested.