}

September 20, 2011

My 1802 Melon Project

This little project began last May, after purchasing a rare 1802 gardening book. It was then, when I discovered that in the early Nineteenth Century, the first glasshouses and 'stoves' in America were used not for flowers, but  mainly for fancy food crops - particularly the new 'Pine Apples' and citrus, that arrived home with sailors on their whaling ships. These plant crops, collected from exotic ports in the south seas, also included fancy table grapes from Europe,  that could ripen in the forced coal heated grapery for early winter table fruit, Muscadine grapes, nectarines and yes, melons.

NOIR DE CARMES and VERT GRIMMPANT - RARE HEIRLOOMS FROM NINETEENTH C. FRANCE

I was inspired to consider optional uses for my glass greenhouse, which say unused for most of the summer, which brings me to my experiment in growing these melons. Not ordinary melons mind you, but vintage varieties that might have been grown in an 1802 greenhouse.  I chose to grow these period fruit for a few reasons, their authenticity- living legends that anyone can grow thanks to a growing group of seed savers who search the planet for vintage or heirloom varieties that might have been lost, their romance, because come on, what could be more desirable than tasting a fruit that is a clone of what Marie Antoinette may have enjoyed, but mostly, for the flavor, which had proven to be unbelievably delicious in a honey-meets-nectar-of-the-Gods, way.
A CHARENTAIS TYPE FROM THE 1700's



TENDRAL VERDE TARDE MELON - A HARD, WINTER STORAGE MELON, THAT MAY NOT BE READY TO EAT UNTIL THANKSGIVING.


BOULE D'OR MELON, REPORTEDLY GROWN IN VILMORIN'S BOOK, THE VEGETABLE GARDEN IN 1885. NOW VERY RARE, THE PALE GREEN FLESH IS EXTREMELY SWEET.



Now that I harvested 'my melons' my friends at work can stop teasing me about having to go home and "water my melons".





6 comments :

  1. That first photo with the text looks like something from Martha Stewart magazine. Your project looks like a big success!

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  2. YES! That is so cool! I am going to have to try that in my greenhouse next year! -Camille

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  3. Great layout and photos. I do like how you spend the time to get good photos as it makes reading your blog a pleasure. How different was the 1802 melon variety to grow compared to todays cultivars?

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  4. Beautiful! I'm glad your melon project worked out well for you. It's amazing how well they did under the added heat of the greenhouse.

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  5. It would have never occurred to me to try growing melons in a greenhouse but then, why not. So, I’ve promised myself to give it a try for next season.

    I noticed that you’ve created a supportive mechanism for a couple of melons. Could that possibly stunt their development and growing into full size?

    By the way, your pictorial additions to your blogs are terrific.

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  6. Martha Stewart Mag? How flattering! Actually, i didn't think about it too much, just grabbed an old chopping block from the kitchen, and my camera. I shot them under the deck umbrella on an overcast day, so that helped diffuse the light. Then the sun started to come through the haze, and it started to get too bright. The real challenge was trying to keep the Yellow Jacket Wasps off of the freshly cut fruit.

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