Vegetables and Fruit forum: Schochler Watermelon and Israeli Cantaloupe

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Name: Claud
Water Valley, Ms (Zone 7b)
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saltmarsh
Aug 10, 2015 6:09 PM CST
I have hesitated and put off creating this thread for a while because I didn't want to start something I couldn't finish.

This project may still end in disaster, but it's far enough along some others may benefit from it, so here goes.

From the other Schochler thread several people had planned to grow this watermelon, but I haven't seen anyone post their results yet. I do things a little different (not necessarily better) than most folks. I'll try to explain the reason behind the madness as we go along.

I don't use any insecticides, herbicides, commercial fertilizers, or animal manures. I made an exception for the watermelons and cantaloupes this year and did use 1/2 cup of aged chicken manure (5 years old) per hill. It probably wasn't necessary as the runners grew a foot per day and a little slower growth might have been better.

Boy what a year so far. Rain, rain and more rain. My garden has flooded 8 times so far this year. I grow on 4' x 100' earth bermed raised beds with 3' wide middles. When it floods the wide middles allow the waters to drain off before the plants on the raised beds are damaged. During a normal shower the grass on the beds and in the middles slow the runoff allowing more water to soak into the soil while acting as a live mulch, trap crop for insects and green manure for the vegetables.

I normally use a garlic, hot pepper, and sage tea to confuse and repel insects from my vegetables instead of insecticides. The logic is if the insects don't lay their eggs on your plants, you eliminate a lot of your insect problems. Insects are like people in that they will eat just about anything when they get hungry and insects are born hungry. Most of the insects in my garden come from the pasture which surrounds the garden on all sides. When they arrive they find the same grasses and weeds growing in the middles and on the beds that they were eating in the pasture. I spray the garlic, pepper and sage tea on my vegetables and not on the grass and weeds. This works for many insects.

When I have a problem insect the tea doesn't repel, I try to find something that particular insect doesn't like and make a tea from that plant to repel and confuse them. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Cucumber Beatles and Stink bugs are two insects I had not found a solution for. I had read about a beneficial bacillus which when the roots were inoculated with this bacillus would cause the plants to repel Cucumber Beatles. I found a source for the bacillus and tried it this year. It works. I haven't been able to find a single Cucumber Beatle or Stink bug on any of the watermelons or cantaloupes.

Because I was trying the bacillus I only used the garlic, pepper, sage tea at plant out (It masks the odor of seeds so raccoons don't dig them up.). Just anecdotal evidence I know, but it's anecdotal enough that I'll be using this from now on.

The plants haven't been spray with anything until 3 weeks ago when I started spraying with the garlic, pepper and sage tea to repel deer, raccoons, and crows.

The closest watermelons and cantaloupes are 2 miles away so the seed should be pure. A friend who has a CSA grew the ones which are 2 miles from my garden and the deer and raccoons ate every one of hers. She and her members didn't get a single melon or cantaloupe. That's why I started spraying with the tea. The morning after I sprayed I found 2 watermelon runners and 3 cantaloupe runners with the tip bit off along with one cantaloupe which had a bite taken out by deer (deer tracks). I guess I lucked out on that one.

The pictures below tell the story. The seeds were planted June 1st, 5 weeks after our last frost. Watermelons were planted on 7' rows with 8 feet between hills. 3 seeds per hill thinned to the strongest 2 plants after true leaves had formed. Germination was about 95%. Cantaloupes were planted on 7' rows with 3 feet between hills. 10 seeds per hill (old seeds; a germination trial showed about 20%) thinned to the strongest 2 plants after true leaves had formed. Germination was about 85% (I blame the difference on the bacillus inoculant as that was the only thing different from the trial.).

When the plants have their true leaves the hills are thinned to the strongest 2 plants and a hoe and hand are used to remove the grass for about a foot around each hill. The grass was allowed to grow for another 4 days, then a weed eater was used to trim the grass on the beds and in the middles. The clippings were allowed to dry in the sun for a day. A 24" gas tiller was used to till the grass and weeds into the soil on the beds. The grass in the middles was not tilled and was mowed as necessary. This allows the melons and cantaloupes to become dominant.

It's my understanding the reason melons like Schochler (dark skinned) fell out of favor here in the south is they tend to suffer from sunscald making many unmarketable. Hopefully allowing the grass to grow with them will prevent this.

If anyone is interested in the bacillus, I plan to start a separate thread on it. I would prefer to keep the discussion here about the Schochler and Israeli. Thanks, Claud.



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Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Aug 11, 2015 5:52 AM CST
Very enlightening. I'm especially interested in how you make your garlic, hot pepper and sage tea.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Aug 11, 2015 11:30 AM CST
It's great that you're growing out the Schochler watermelon!
Where did you get the seeds, Seed Saver's Exchange?

By the way, here are the other two "Schochler " threads:

The thread "Volunteers to conserve heirloom 'Schochler' Watermelon?" in Vegetables and Fruit forum
The thread "Schochler Watermelon" in Vegetables and Fruit forum
[Last edited by RickCorey - Aug 11, 2015 11:36 AM (+)]
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Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Aug 11, 2015 11:42 AM CST
Looks great Saltmarsh! Thumbs up

Look forward to seeing your thread about bacillus.
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Claud
Water Valley, Ms (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member
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saltmarsh
Aug 12, 2015 1:20 AM CST
Thanks for the responses Tom, Rick, and Christine.

Tom, I normally make the GPS tea 6 gallons at a time (2 - 3 gallon batches) using a 16 Qt. stock pot and a 23 Qt. enameled steel canner. The tea is concentrated. 3 gallons of tea is mixed with 3 gallons of water to make 6 gallons of spray. It is shelf stable and doesn't require refrigeration. Kept out of direct sunlight and at room temperature it will last for over a year. It can be used stand alone or with other teas and inoculants such as rosemary and horsetail tea and lactobacillus inoculant. I buy the spices from a restaurant supply store $2 - $3 for an 11 - 16 oz bottle. Nothing wrong with being cheap.

To make 3 gallons of concentrated tea, place a large pot on the stove and add 2 gallons of hot tap water. Add 1/2 cup of garlic powder, 1/2 cup of ground red pepper, and 1/2 cup of ground (not rubbed) sage to the pot. Stir the pot. Add 1 gallon and 1 quart of hot tap water to the pot making a total of 3 gallons and a quart of water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to a slow boil and allow to boil covered for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, leave it covered and allow to cool overnight. Don't try to work with hot liquids.

After the tea has cooled it needs to be strained. I use an old coffee carafe and gallon pickle jars. I stretch knee highs or pieces of nylon stocking about 8" long with the end knotted over the jar top and use a rubber band to hold the stocking in place. You want 3 or 4 inches of the stocking inside the jar to hold the spices. After the pickle jar has been filled with tea, remove the stocking; squeezing the tea from the stocking as you go. (I wear disposable gloves ). Then I use a funnel to pour the strained tea into 2 liter drink bottles for storage until needed. I remove the labels from the bottles and use a sharpie to identify the contents. It's always nice to know what you're spraying on your plants.

To use the tea, mix with an equal amount of water and spray plants to the point of run off, top and underside of leaves. I add 2 tablespoons of molasses per gallon of spray as a sticker (This will keep the rain from washing your tea off.) I also use 2 tablespoons of Palmolive Orange dishwashing liquid (it has Orange oil) as a spreader and mild insecticide ( It makes the tea cover the leaves rather than running off.)

Respray new growth and fruit after 10 days to 2 weeks.

I probably should note some of the things I add to this base tea, such as the horsetail tea (used as a natural fungicide, and immune booster) are high in nutrients so I'm actually doing a foliar feed when I spray. Some plants respond to this more than others.

Thanks for the links Rick. It should make it easier for those who haven't been following this subject to understand what's going on.

Christine, I'll try to start the bacillus thread in the next couple of days. Lots going on right now.

Claud
Name: Claud
Water Valley, Ms (Zone 7b)
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saltmarsh
Aug 16, 2015 9:29 PM CST
What I was told about the dark skinned watermelons suffering from sun-scald is true. This melon was the first to ripen. It was on the end of the row without vines or grass to provide shade. It is also the only example of sun-scald I have. All the rest had enough shade from the grass and watermelon vines to prevent this problem.

If I were growing these melons for sale to the public and didn't have the additional shade provided by the grass, I'd be in tears right now. You could provide shade to a few rows with brush over the melons, but for several acres, it would be simpler and foolproof to grow a light striped variety like Jubilee.

As you can see the damage is only cosmetic. The interior of the melon is unaffected. Flavor is excellent. It makes a great home garden melon or cooler climate melon, but for the deep south, other varieties would do better. Claud


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Name: Claud
Water Valley, Ms (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member
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saltmarsh
Aug 16, 2015 10:36 PM CST
Well, the watermelons and cantaloupes are ripening nicely.

The garlic, pepper and sage tea is working very well. I haven't had any damage at all to the watermelons. I am having an unexpected problem with the cantaloupes however. Box Turtles or as we call them terrapins. The Israeli cantaloupe must be a muskmelon because you can smell it for a 1/4 mile and I'm sure animals can smell it much farther. I can just imagine that delicious scent, then when you get to the source, garlic, pepper and sage. No problem with deer, or crows yet, but Box Turtles have bitten the skin on a few (about a 1/4 inch deep) and if the damaged cantaloupes aren't removed from the field, raccoons will take advantage of the opening and tear into the fruit. So all turtle bitten fruit are being removed daily.

This morning I sprayed with a double strength dose of the tea to see it that will deter the turtles. If I could find them I'd relocate them but they be sneaky little devils.

These watermelons had yellow bellies and dead tendrils next to their stems, but the surest sign of ripeness is alligatored skin. If the skin is still slick and smooth, the melon isn't ripe. Notice the alligatoring in the photos below. You don't even need to see the melon, you can feel when it's ripe.

The Schochler's flesh is a pinkish - red when ripe; different from the red-meated melons people are used to. It is sweet without overpowering the flavor which is excellent. The rind is thick but only a little firmer than the ripened part. The tough skin is only about 1/8 inch thick.

I'm making watermelon rind pickles using several old recipes. Also going to try a recipe for watermelon rind breaded and fried like Okra. I'll post the results along with photos as they occur. Claud

By the way, the garlic, pepper, and sage tea doesn't affect the taste of the watermelon or cantaloupe in any way. heh, heh, Claud


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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Aug 17, 2015 10:44 AM CST
It's really great that you grew these out, Claud. And a nice natural experiment to see sunscald only at the end of a row.

I see the rind IS very thick. Someone wrote that they were good "trucking" melons because the rind was so tough they couldn't be damaged.

[Last edited by RickCorey - Aug 17, 2015 10:45 AM (+)]
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Name: Claud
Water Valley, Ms (Zone 7b)
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saltmarsh
Aug 19, 2015 8:54 PM CST
The Israeli Cantaloupes are a real treat. Sweet, full flavored, melt in your mouth, ripe to the rind, let me have some more, here ya go.

Everybody around here is loving them. Great for the garden or local market, but definitely not a shipper. Can't give you a bite but here's the next best thing. Claud



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Name: Claud
Water Valley, Ms (Zone 7b)
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saltmarsh
Sep 3, 2015 11:51 PM CST
I had my first ever fried watermelon tonight. Very tasty with a nice texture. For those who don't like okra because it's slimey , you should try fried watermelon.

After the watermelon rind is removed and peeled, you slice it to the size needed for your recipe. Then the rind is soaked in a salt brine (1/4 cup canning salt per quart of water) in the refrigerator overnight; then the salt is rinsed off and the rind allowed to drain in a colander; breaded and fried like Okra.

I also froze two more batches after rinsing the salt off. One was drained and frozen on a cookie sheet then placed in a freezer bag; the other rinsed and frozen in plain water. After a few days I'll thaw them and fry to see which works best. I'll let you know how it goes. Claud


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Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Sep 4, 2015 2:03 PM CST
saltmarsh said:The Israeli Cantaloupes are a real treat. Sweet, full flavored, melt in your mouth, ripe to the rind, let me have some more, here ya go.

Everybody around here is loving them. Great for the garden or local market, but definitely not a shipper. Can't give you a bite but here's the next best thing. Claud



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Drooling Drooling Yummy!!!

I used to grow cantaloupes but have not in years. I really need to get back to doing so.

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