Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Watermelon Survival: Battling With Mother Nature

Well, that's strange...

I puzzled over the 'largest' watermelon that grew on my vines.  It was the first to form, and had been growing at a nice, fast pace.

Over the past few days, though, growth had stopped.

Just stopped.

Finally, a went up onto the hill to the spot above the retaining wall that it had grown above.  Everything seemed ok, so I picked up the vine that it was attached to -

And it separated from the rest of the plant.  Four inches of vine, still attached to the baby watermelon, hung from my hand.

Those darned squirrels!!!

Ok, in reality, it may not have been the squirrels.  They're just the easiest target.  It could have been a rabbit, or even the shrew that shares my yard, protecting it from any small rodents that would dare to set up house.

Heck, maybe even an insect had done it.

Regardless, something chewed through the vine, destroying any chance of the 1 1/2 inch long watermelon's survival.  I was left with a tiny oval shaped orb that was too young to be eaten.  To add insult to injury, there was also a blackened area along the area nearest where it connects to the vine, caused by little teeth or claws.

tooth and claw marked watermelon

There is a bit of good news, though.  Even though I lost this first watermelon, Another has gown to match and surpass its size.  It's about 2 inches long at the moment.

watermelon hanging off retaining wall

It's a bit more protected, since it's hanging off the side of the wall.  This isn't perfect protection, of course... not even close, but it's better than what the watermelon that was attacked had.

There's also another young melon that's much easier for critters to get a hold of.  It's extraordinarily young, and still has hairs attached to it!

hairy baby watermelon

You can tell it's tiny, since the surface it's lying on is a brick!

I sliced the baby watermelon in half, just because I wanted to see what it appeared like at this stage of development.  The skin is still soft, and the melon has the same firmness as a mango, at this point.

young watermelon inside view

I expected the center to be yellow or orange in color at this stage.  I was rather shocked.  And the seeds?  I totally didn't expect to see anything more than a couple of millimeters in length!  It resembled the mature fruit more than I expected.

Now my only problem is protecting it from our evening temperatures.  

I just got a freeze warning for my sister's region of Minnesota, and she only lives about 3 hours North of me.  Her nighttime temperatures could dip into the twenties.

Mine, on the other hand, will be in the low forties or high thirties.  I'm hoping for the forties, because the melons would stand a better chance of survival, but we'll see.  I think I'll be piling leaves on top of the mound.

Anything to give them a fighting chance!  

They don't have to survive much longer to be viable, so I just need to hold out a bit longer.  If only I had additional ideas to protect them from the cold.

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