Monday, 6 September 2010
Collective Farm Woman (Kolkhoznitsa) Melon
Kolkhoznitsa melons were brought to North America in 1993 by a member of Seed Savers Exchange, who acquired seeds in Krim, in the Ukraine. They were released under the translated name Collective Farm Woman. Since then, they have been gaining recognition and popularity as a very good early-ripening melon that's happiest growing in a season that's warm, but not wildly hot, and which is quite tolerant of cooler weather. Canadians, take note; this one's for us.
I have to say that unlike other melons I have tried to grow, these were a pleasure. Stuck the seeds in little peat pots in the spring, kept them warm, and they actually germinated. Planted them out (in the peat pots) at the beginning of June, and they did not sulk, pine or get eaten by pests. They just grew, steadily and modestly, putting out 2 or 3 melons per nice, compact little plant. It helps that this has been a hot summer perfect for growing melons; all they have needed is some extra watering as it's been so dry for us. The soil, of course, was well enriched with compost before we planted them.
You could grow these on a trellis, if you were prepared to support the individual melons. I'm told that cucumber beetles will attack them when they are young, and we protected them from cut-worms by wrapping the base of the stems with aluminum foil when we planted them out. They are supposed to be very vulnerable to powdery mildew, but we had no problems whatever, even though our zucchini have been stricken with it.
The melon pictured could have been a tad riper - they are ripe when they turn from green to golden, or at least golden with just a few green spots. This one slipped right off the vine as I was checking it, and it was certainly pretty close. They are supposed to be ready in 85 days from planting out, and our first one was ready at about that point, although most of them will be ready in closer to 90 to 100 days. Still, that's quite do-able.
We have not always been big melon fans in this house but we may change our minds. I've been swooning over how good these are. The flesh was the typical light green of a honeydew type melon, but particularly rich, floral and sweet in flavour. The flesh is also rather crisp and watery; more like a dense watermelon in texture than a typical musk melon. Unusual, and really appealling and refreshing.
I'm told - but I am not at all sure that we will have the self-discipline to make the test - that these store for several weeks if kept in a cool, dark spot once picked. (One person reported storing them successfully for at least 2 months!)