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Growing Yellow Doll Watermelons


Yellow Doll Melon in its Hammock

When I was a child in the 1950s in the Canadian Prairies, I dreamed of growing exotic things in our mundane garden: maybe giant pumpkins or watermelons! We did manage to grow a pretty decent crop of sugar pumpkins one year (we kids hawked them on the highway for 10 cents a pumpkin-- a bargain even in that day).  But the watermelons never flourished. Perhaps for others, but not on our little grain farm. 

Fast forward to the 1970s when our kids were of that magical Jack-in-the-Beanstock gardening stage. We grew magnificent zucchinis-- they were so thrilled to have a monster zucchini almost as big and as heavy as they were (not knowing that those monsters are close to inedible, that you have to hack through the rock-hard skin with a pneumatic drill and the seeds would be the size of tums). But no watermelons grew.

Fast forward to the current age-- old retired folks living on Vancouver Island with cedar planters high enough that we don't have to bend over. Our younger son (50 this year) is spending some time with us between projects. He is a fabulous gardener. He knows what the soil needs just by looking at the plants that grow there. But before he arrives for his visit, we go through a couple of weeks of COVID-19 and then a longer convalescent period. This eats into our garden planting schedule. We finally get the boxes full of our pathetic little starter plants-- including Yellow Doll Watermelons, 3 skimpy vines with some uncertain leaves, in late June. We have another drought summer. It is very hot almost every day, and we water every morning and sometimes at night. The watermelons are slow to grow their vines, let alone their fruit. I see a friend's lovely canteloupe fruit on Instagram and 'share' that our watermelons are just little blips on a couple of vines. It looks hopeless.

But it seems that watermelons like scorching daily sun, and are not daunted by smoky skies (the signal of multiple wildfires in our province). Before long we have 2 softball size melons growing of each  of the two plants I have in   pots in one of the cedar boxes (I saw a guy plant them in 2-gallon bins on Youtube). And pretty soon I needed to crochet a kookie hammock for each of them so they didn't break off their hanging vine and smash before we got to sample them.

I was sooo thrilled! I saw lots of blossoms and envisioned lots of melons to come. I was p--d off when our son announced that he had pinched off those little teenie melons-- that the energy of the plant was curtailed by their attempts to grow when it was very unlikely they would become even baseball size. There just wasn't enough summer sunshine time left. I knew he was right but my Inner Child Garden-Dreamer was still not really convinced that he had aborted them unnecessarily.

Well, on my rounds of the plant boxes today I found that the largest melon had slipped out of its hammock and when I held it I thought it weighed at least 5 of the 5-7 pounds these Yellow Dolls average. I also noticed that there was a dried brown tendril near the top of the fruit-- one of the signs of maturity. So I made an executive decision and snapped it off the vine and took it in to show to the men in the house. They both had a thump on it and pronounced that it was indeed 'sounding' ready. 

This guy weighed 6.13 pounds. Average is 5-7 pounds.

You can see how beautifully symmetrical and flawless it is. I have never been more thrilled (well, except when our children were born) (and our grandkids' births). 

It sliced so easily with my ancient serrated bread knife. The creamy yellow color was a little less yellow than I expected, but then I think the daffodil yellow melon flesh on the Internet was likely photoshopped. (I'm still pretty naive that way). 

Delicate flavor, silky cream-yellow flesh and that unmistakable
watermelon sweetness and thirst-quench juiciness.

We were all over the moon with the refreshing sweet flavor and the juiciness! I made sure every seed-- so far we have about 50 of them drying on a piece of parchment paper-- was saved so that next year we can plant 20 or 50 plants-- on the May 24th weekend. And there are still a couple (maybe 4) melons out on the vine. What bliss!

You want to try growing this delicious melon in your garden next summer? Order the seeds from West Coast Seeds-- you don't need to live on the West Coast to grow this... just somewhere with a sunny summer-- even Saskatchewan!

The second melon we harvested about a week later weighed in at 9 pounds 4 ounces ( 9 1/2 #) and was sweeter and brighter yellow flesh: