Harvesting melons

Harvesting melons often takes some skill. Many melons have different signs to know when they are ripe. Some can be left on the vine for a week or even two after they are fully ripe with no harm but many of the old, european types need to be checked every day as they can taste just as awful if left a day too late as if picked a day early. If there is harvesting tips on any variety page on this site it is best to take notice.

Watermelons are ripe when the white spot underneath the fruit where it is sitting on the ground turns yellow and the tendril closest to the fruit is dead and dry. They can usually be left on the vine for a week or more after this without harm. Large watermelons may sound hollow when thumped but this usually isn't a sign with small varieties.

Most of the netted melons will 'slip' from the vine when ripe. Slipping is where the fruit will detach from the vine without being pulled, it will come off in your hand with a touch or very slight push. These melons will often show a lightening of the skin under the netting a day or so before being fully ripe. Many netted melons will also become fragrant when they are ripe to pick.

Most of the smooth-skinned melons will change colour, sometimes quite dramatically, the day before they are ripe. Another way to tell when a smooth-skinned or 'winter melon' is ripe is that their skin turns from very slightly hairy or sticky to smooth and waxy feeling.

Often it just takes observation and experience to get your melons at just the right time. With those melons that don't follow the rules, you just have to learn as you go. I will give you my tips on the melons that I have grown to give you a hand.

NOTE- Melons may soften a little but do not ripen any more after being picked so it is worth going to the trouble of checking on them at least once a day. When you taste properly ripened melons you will not be able to enjoy another under ripe shop-bought melon ever again.