Thursday, August 26, 2010

Green Watermelons

I posted a photo of me with a watermelon from my garden and the response to the watermelon prompts me to add an entry about it.  I don't particularly think it's the largest watermelon I've ever seen but many responses have indicated other people think that way about it.  Melons in the stores these days seem to be definitely smaller than when I was young and there has been an emphasis on seedless varieties (but lots of things seem smaller these "1/2 gallon" ice cream containers).  The cantaloupe size watermelons I find in the stores today drive me nuts; The volume of a sphere is equal to 4/3 pi times the radius cubed.  If a melon is twice as big, it contains 8 times more melon!  It may also be personal preference but I find the seeded varieties of melon to be sweeter and better tasting than the seedless.  This watermelon is an "orange tendersweet" which has orange flesh instead of the usual red... something you only get with garden grown stuff, and of course home grown is always far better than store bought.

I planted the watermelon in mid June; pretty late for Phoenix.  I sowed 8 seeds in one hill, and all the plants came up.  Watermelon demands a lot of water, a precious commodity here in the desert.  I sprinkled the melons with Miracle Gro crystals twice before the first melons set and found I needed to water them twice a day.  Even with twice a day waterings the plants were languishing.

In order to reduce my labor and save water, I connected a hose fitting to the pvc pipe that drains the air conditioning unit on the roof of my house.  This air conditioning condensate is purified (distilled) water, so I ran it to the melon hill with a cheap hose.  When the melons got a hold of this continuous drip they really took off.  The plants have grown over the whole corner of the yard, producing quite a few melons close to this size.  The plants are now growing a third set of melons, something I've never been able to get in the past.

The water from the A/C usually goes to waste; it drips off the roof into the ground next to the house.  It now feeds my watermelons, with no additional use of city water -- it is the water that is 'squeezed' out of the air in my home by my heat pump.  I was concerned at first that this water, having run through a hose that is exposed to the sun, would be too hot but this does not seem to be an issue.  There is an additional advantage in that the water no longer falls next to the foundation of my house.  Water will draw termites to a desert home and can damage or undermine the concrete foundation.  A 3 foot space is a good distance to help prevent this, but I have to admit that I have numerous plants inside of that 'safety zone.'  In any case, trapping this AC condensate and sending it to the melons has not only produced some great melons but additional advantages with my house, too.

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