The Q&A Archives: watermelons

Question: We need to pick our melons early, as the coyotes have been raiding the garden. How do you store them,will they still ripen? Thanks.

Answer: Your melons will not ripen once you remove them from the vine. Try to cover them with bird netting to keep the coyotes from damaging the fruits. Many home gardeners experience difficulty in determining when watermelons are ripe. Use a combination of the following indicators: (1) light green, curly tendrils on the stem near the point of attachment of the melon usually turn brown and dry; (2) the surface color of the fruit turns dull; (3) the skin becomes resistant to penetration by the thumbnail and is rough to the touch; and (4) the bottom of the melon (where it lies on the soil) turns from light green to a yellowish color. These indicators for choosing a ripe watermelon are much more reliable than "thumping" the melon with a knuckle. Many watermelons do not emit the proverbial "dull thud" when ripe. For these, the dull thud may indicate an over-ripe, mushy melon.

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