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I know this is a vegetable forum, but I'm trying to get opinions on what heirloom watermelon I could grow that would compare to the melons I remember from my youth (1960's)? What they sell today in the stores does not compare. I get a kick out of how I have to pay 2x the price for a seeded watermelon. To me, the seedless ones just don't have much flavor. I would love to try growing something remarkably sweet and tasty here in my zone 5.
Do you just want an open pollinated melon or a "heirloom". Crimson Sweet is open pollinated and as bernie stated is about as tasty as watermelons get. It is however a modern commercial melon. Its sister line , the Allsweet is also good. Legacy is a more recent release, open pollinated and matches the hybrid Sangria in taste and production. For pre 1960 cultivars, Dixie Queen (1890), ChrisCross, Wilson Sweet.
I haven't really stumbled upon the "best" watermelon for me, yet. But I really enjoyed reading the "about us" section at Willhite Seed's website and they do have a nice selection of watermelons. I did order from them this year--some one from this very forum kindly passed a link to their website to me. So here, I am paying the kindness forward: http://www.willhiteseed.com/index.php
Even if you don't order from them I think reading the history and looking at the old photos that go along with the history was fun! And they have been in the watermelon business for a long time, so maybe they have what you are looking for.
Though I have never found a clear answer to the age an heirloom I have only grown Jubilees for years and save my seed. Developed in 1963, for years it was a commercial standard for its ability to ship. Never found another melon to suite my taste any better. Here in the humid south it does very well. I have never had problems with disease. At least not till I said it so this year that may change.lol
We planted a little watermelon called Jenny. I don't know much about it except it was to be 6 to 8 lbs. Looking for something small.
Well the seeds weren't treated, so only about 20 germinated out of 100. Now they are dieing off. Caulk up another one to lousy open pollinated untreated seed.
You said Sangria are looking good. I was thinking you might like a cool sip of a good Sangria (the drink) after finding out all those seeds weren't germinating. I would be very aggivated myself. A cool libation might be just the thing!
Bernie, I am confused. Jenny is a small hybrid, touted as a pollinizer for seedless watermelons. I have tried some others that were promoted as pollinizers but were poor performers. have not tried Jenny. The old open pollinated Mickylee is also used as a pollinizer and field trials indicate that it does the job as well as the modern hybrids. better it does not look like most of the seedless types. Developed in the Florida breeding program as an icebox melon, it is one of the best of that type.
I was given a pack of them by the company when I ordered some Oriental Greens. Unfortunately I live in a climate area that just does not grow watermelons. They were packed for this year and I would not like to see them wasted. It is only one pack.
Black diamond is the best melon I ever had . My dad used to buy them for me for a quarter. I don't like the green after taste of the melons you get now , and you have to wait for them to get really ripe from the store
I'm bumping this one because this was such a good year for watermelons here in the Texas area. My best producer and best tasting was not an heirloom, but next year I'm planning out a larger area for watermelons (DH has high cholesterol and I just saw a report that watermelons are some of the good things to eat to help reduce cholesterol). I'm going to stick with the hybrid I did well with this year but I want an heirloom to add to the patch next year. I'm leaning towards Jubilee but what other watermelons did you guys grow? Seedsower, what did you end up with?
Technically "heirlooms" should be family melons, that were not released commercially by large breeding programs. There are quite a few of the them out there. On the other there are a large number of open pollinated melons that were developed specifically for the commercial market and which have continued popular over the years. Crimson Sweet and its knockoff AU Producer are among the best. Others include the Georgia Rattlesnake and its newer editions Garrison, Fairfax, and Garrisonian, Black Diamond and its many "improved" editions Verona is the best, altho the Yellow Belly Black Diamond is pretty good. In the 60's the most popular commercial melon was the Charleton Grey, which also has many knockoffs. Congo was its major competitor in the fifties. Jubillee replaced the Congo and had some popularity, before all of them were blown away by the Crimson Sweet. Tom Watson and Kleckly's Sweet while never highly popular have had a cult following over the years. They are old as is the Mountain Sweet and Mountain Hoosier, both of which are superior in my opinion to Tom watson and Kleckly's Sweet. From the 30's into the 90's land grant universities in watermelon producing states developed a lot of commercila varieties. Surpriseingly Kansas State University ( Charles V. Hall) developed the Crimson Sweet and Allsweet (1963) which set the satandard for tasty watermelons. The University of Florida breedin program turned large numbers of commercial melons. Jubillee, Mickylee, Smokylee etc. Clemson in cooperation the USDA also di its fair share ( Charleton Grey) Alabama The Au series ( My favorite AU Sweet Scarlet), Arkansas also did some. (White Hope) The Klondike and Peacock series were developed for California, but I have grown Klondike Striped Blue Ribbon and Striped Peacock here in in Georgia. Both are ok melons.
Farmer , whew , that's a lot of info . Tell me, you mentioned the Black Diamond and the "improved editions " How can one tell the difference ? I hope what I have is the real , old fashioned one I grew up with . It did taste like it .
I'll say, what a list! Thank you Farmerdill! I've grown Georgia Rattlesnake. I managed to get one melon before the coyotes and feral hogs moved in and got all the rest. The one I got was pretty good...
The original Black Diamond is a tricky melon. When it gets size under good conditions, it is quite tasty altho never as sweet as Crimson Sweet. It has a tendency toward white heart when conditions are not favorable. Under stress it seems to have difficulty ripening properly. It does not size down well. Verona and the Yellow Bellied Black Diamond ( aka Superior Black Diamond) are more forgiving. Other variants include Cannonball, Clara Lee, Blacklee, Smokylee, Shipper, Florida Giant, Texas Giant, Blackstone ... Willhite still sells Black Diamond, Yellow Belly Black Diamond, and Verona. Major difference is in performance ( ease of growing). There is also a Yellow Flesh Black Diamond
They have a good variety of watermelon seeds and the were very helpful when I called to ask a couple of questions. Plus I like their pictures of the development of their operations down through the years. Worth the visit to the site just to read about their history.
Just for info for Seedsower. Cucurbits ( watermelons, melons squash cucumbers etc) are classified as vegetables. Crimson Sweet is very popular and will be found in most vegetable seed listings. Black Diamond is not hard to find.
Farmerdill , up here , in 20 years , I've only seen Black Diamond twice at the roadside . I bought a packet of them at the feed store and wasted a year . What I got was a little ice box size mellon . It was good , for about five bites . I bought a B D last year and saved the seed . This year no one had them .I asked the owner last year where he got them and he told me he didn't know the guy , he just came by and had a truckload to sell .Looks like I'll have to grow my own and will try that Clemson Sweet. I like a crisp , sweet mellon without that green ,nasty aftertaste you get in the restaurants . Not fully ripe yet. Sure thank you for the info on the different mellons .
digger, if you can find Sangria Hybrid, you will have the best melon you ever ate.
All we have grown for nearly 15 years. People won't buy watermelon from anybody else at our market. They just wait for ours!
We get ours from http://www.jordanseeds.com/ , but smallest amount is 500 seeds.
Sangria is a very popular hybrid (Allsweet type). (It is widely available Gurneys, Parks, Territorial, Twilley, Rohrer...) An excellent melon, but for me no advantage over the open pollinated Legacy. In fact for general use the hybrids that I have tried have not surpassed thier open pollinated counterparts. More uniform size and shape may be desirable when shipping, but the current market is going to the triploids ( seedless). In my opinion the triploids are still falling short on taste and texture. http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/60014/
I had very good luck with Diablo, a hybrid, this year. All the guys at work said it was one of the best tasting watermelons they'd had in a long time. One of the guys told me that he'd actually forgotten what a real watermelon tasted like. Of course they might have been buttering me up as I was giving watermelons away like some people give away zucchini. I only had four vines and the two of us couldn't keep up, some nights we just had watermelon and a salad for supper (not that I'm complaining! =D). I'll certainly grow Diablo again next year, but want to do a couple of other varieties. I was looking at Jubilee on the Willhite's website, now I'll take a look for Legacy and Sangria. I'll try Yellow Doll again next year, the mice or some other small critter got to the Yellow Dolls this past season so I can't really say if it was good, I got one melon and DH like it but I didn't get a taste. Any small melons I grow next year will have to be trellised to try and avoid a repeat. I do have adventures with the wildlife around here! I just had our first siting of feral Emus! I don't even know what they eat...veg, chickens, small dogs?
Have been growing watermelons since the late forties. Got a digital camera for the 2005 season, so have photos of most of the melons that I have tried since. http://s294.photobucket.com/albums/mm92/farmerdill/Watermelon/ Personal favorite AU Sweet Scarlet. Worst one the hybrid Matador. I only trial about two hybrids a year, so I am not an expert on them by any means. Most have been good, just not in my opinion, worth the extra cost in seeds. Charlene was the best performing hybrid tried to date.
Favorite new melon, not watermelon, was Ineya Melon from former Soviet Union. http://rareseeds.com/review/product/list/id/15293/ Baker Creek says it has "golden rind" and ours was orange when we picked it so I thought it would be overripe. The inside was still nice very nice texture and not mushy. VERY nice taste, sweet, and just wonderful. All the kids voted it their favorite this summer so far...and they are discriminating little buggers with melons LOL This is one worth growing!
Love black diamonds- yellow meated one was just as good, but they were buggers at consistency and finicky to grow. Why everyone moved on to the Clemson Sweet. Texas has several areas that grow melons exceptionally well.
If it is a good sweetmelon? I dont want it iced- it chills a bit under my truck a/c if purchased from the back of a pickup on the way in, or in the river while we work hayfields/garden and is perfect to me, I am in Springfield, Ill tonite whining after the melons I can only see when I run southwest states. East coast just has no clue abt how good it is to get a cup of fruit for a snack instead of a coke and tater chips...that honeydew I had a few days back was just perfect ripe sweet as if soaking in honey juice, yummm. Gotta watch tho or you'get a cup thats has no flavor green, or is sour as silage. pew.
Moon&stars about seems to be all I can grow , got a couple one a bit bigger than a dinner plate ,Just about an Orangeglo only an animal chewed a whole in it at about twelve pounds.
I love watermelon , worst thing to try and grow in my garden , who knows?
I am trying klondike this year , hope .hoping .
10 to 20 year homestead parcel
Pretty scenic views
Nice lumber industry
New roads being built
Or I like being an ice cube
I love lots of snow
Good fur trade ??????
no taxes those were the days
My daddy has the red meat Black Diamond watermelon seeds that he is planting here at my place..so I have to make a checklist: welded wire..posts to hold up wire..wire cutters..etc neverending story with critters from the fields n forest around me...lol Oh and my BIG doggy name Babe to chase them off..
They make the best meat ever (feral hogs). I just got back to Georgia for the summer and will try again to grow them here .(melons). I can't seem to get my Texas sure shot to bring me one when I;m in Texas . He won't hardly eat pork and thinks I shouldn't . He was raised on it as were his grandparents . They lived into thier 80's and 90's with one making it to 99 years old .
I found that the Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry in Saint Petersberg, Russia does have seeds from 2008.
Now I'm trying to get a sample from them.
Dr. Todd Wehner (NCSU – Raleigh) , no
Local Harvest .org, no
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, no
Sandhill Preservation, no
Baker Creek, no
Willhite Melon Seed Farms , no
High Mowing Seeds, no
Sustainable Seed Company, no
Victory Seeds, no
Harris Seeds, no
Hollar Seeds, no, but he tipped me off who to ask at USDA / ARS in Griffin GA
Abbot & Cobb , no answer
Texas Watermelon Association, no answer
Absolutely. Five people have signed up for the initial multiplication.
When we have enough, we plan to share them around with other gardeners and places like Seed Savers Exchange, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, LocalHarvest.org, Sandhill Preservation, Baker Creek, Willhite Melon Seed Farms, Victory Seeds and Fedco. And the Texas Watermelon Association IS they ever answer their mail!
Also, we'll offer them to the USDA - Agricultural Research Unit - Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit seed bank, and also a North Carolina State University seed bank.
I like Charleston Gray. Many years ago I came to the conclusion that I preferred the flavor and texture of the Charleston Gray over the dark striped varieties, but around here I can only find the dark striped ones (at markets). Are you saying you don't like Charleston Gray? Is Charleston Gray an Heirloom variety?
Just like my Mamie Ross peaches . Gone , Gone ,Gone .Google search said they were "Fair" but still my favorite . They were grown in a little town Northeast of Wichita Falls Tex . Just like areas of great beauty and tranqulity . THE tourists find them and move in . Like Red River ,N M . LOL
Long time ago the perennial version of Centaurea Americana , and the Giant blue ditch lily ... Gone to Extinction ,
I remember both only barely , You won't even find that they ever existed now ,, Like the three or four kinds of hummingbirds and a hawk I see every so often ,, they supposedly don't exist anymore either ,
But ,, I ain't pro , with the company , so I'm nuts ! yeah I know , you all already knew that ,,,
I just like it that it that way ,