Tuesday, 7 August 2012
Golden Midget Watermelon
Here is a rather interesting little watermelon we are trying for the first time this year. Golden Midget was released in 1959 after about 10 years of work. It was bred by Elwyn Meader and Albert Yeager at the University of New Hampshire, as a cross between New Hampshire Midget and Pumpkin Rind. Those are thoroughly obscure watermelons these days, and even Golden Midget can be a little hard to find, although it seems to be having something of a resurgence lately.
Golden Midget is a very fast ripening watermelon, ready in as few as 70 days after planting out. Indeed, it was the first melon produced in our garden this year and I would say we may not see another kind of watermelon ripe for another month yet. Its name comes from the fact that the watermelons turn from green to bright yellow as they ripen, and when they are ripe, they are yellow all over. (And yes, they're pretty small.) As someone who never seems to guess right when it comes to judging the time to pick my watermelon, this is a very appealing quality. We did indeed pick our watermelon as close to perfectly ripe as I have ever managed; I do think another few days might have improved it. But close, very close!
Watermelons of this small size are often referred to as "personal size" watermelon. Well, maybe. You'd have to be quite the watermelon fiend. We thought it served 4 very nicely. I didn't weigh mine, but they can apparently get up to about 3 pounds.
Many people complain of them being seedy. I didn't think so, particularly. It had a good number of seeds, but they grew in fairly well defined channels and they were easily removed with a spoon. On the other hand, I've heard people say that they are not particularly good-tasting melons, and I'm afraid they are onto something there. We enjoyed ours, and thought it was pleasant, but there was nothing outstanding about the flavour.
I also suspect that it would be fair to describe these plants as determinate. It wasn't just the watermelon that turned yellow as it ripened; it was the whole plant, the yellow spreading out from the ripening fruit. We appear to be getting one, or at most 2, fruits per vine. This is fine; they are really very compact. We have four of them planted across a 5' bed and they won't need much more than 2' in length. I think we will plant this variety again just to get those very early melons, even though later varieties are better, if harder to get at the moment of ripeness.
I'd like to try using this melon to breed better melons, with the early ripening and yellow skinned traits that make this so interesting, but with better flavour and maybe a bit more heft and quantity per vine. I suspect it's easier said than done. Still, something to try!