This weekend we “harvested” the first of our Moon and Stars watermelon!
This is an old-fashioned variety, an heirloom that is known for it’s juiciness and tons o’ spitting seeds. Here’s the background on the watermelon from the Slow Food website:
In the mid 1970s, Kent Whealy began to hear from his Seed Savers Exchange members of a remarkable watermelon introduced to American gardeners sometime before 1900. This Moon and Stars watermelon persisted in seed catalogs through the 1920s, but many feared it had been lost forever. So Kent began a search for this melon, and in 1980 he mentioned the sought after melon on a television show out of Kirksville, Missouri. Fortunately, Merle Van Doren, a farmer near Macon, Missouri was watching and decided to track down Kent. Merle picked up the phone and surprised Kent with news that the melon was not extinct at all; he was cultivating this unusual watermelon— speckled leaves and all—in Missouri. Most importantly, he would save Kent some seed.
Kent went to pick up the seed, bringing a Mother Earth News photographer with him, and although Mr. Van Doren refused to be photographed, Kent posed next to a stunning pile of yellow-starred melons. Featured in the January 1982 edition of Mother Earth News, the back from extinction melon became an instant rage. Since the resurrection of the Van Doren variant, other yellow speckled heirlooms have resurfaced from Cherokee and Amish traditions and all have surged in popularity. Twenty years later, they remain among the bestselling heirlooms offered by the Seed Savers Exchange, and have been picked up and promoted by at least two-dozen other seed outlets. Moon and Stars is truly a stellar success among heirlooms, proving that what was once thought to be obsolete can be revived to the status of a national treasure.
The moon and stars name comes from the little yellow dots all around a bigger yellow dot, which show up on each and every melon. We’ve got 6 other buggers of close to equal size right now. Whatever are we going to do with all of them? I’ve heard of watermelon rind preserves, but what do you do with those?
I wasn’t sure when the melon was ripe or not, but we figured with 6, if it wasn’t we’d still have plenty to choose from. We split it open and found a pinkish-red coloring that was different enough from conventional watermelon that it made me wonder if we’d cut in too early.
It was probably a little underripe, but even so, absolutely delicious. Water running down my chin as I spit out the multitude of seeds – and I give it a two thumbs up!
We tried to grow this variety last year and failed miserably, but this year was a great year for melons and I think it shows. This will be a staple in our garden for years to come!
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