The watermelon you see Scott holding is the first I have ever grown. Hard to believe since I am a Southern gardener, but why grow what you don't eat? And I have never enjoyed eating watermelon -- which is a bummer at 4th of July celebrations and my sister's birthday parties over the years. But that all changed when I ate a watermelon from my own garden, ripened on the vine and picked fresh the morning the first slice was cut. Since we invited our neighbors over to share the celebration of this "first", manners dictated that I eat some, too. Yum! A bite turned into a whole slice. I have joined the ranks of watermelon eaters and am no longer self-excluded from this summer pasttime.
Never having grown a watermelon before, I had to do some research about when to harvest. This one looked big enough and fekt heavy enough, and I was certainly eager to pluck it, but I learned that watermelons do not continue to ripen once picked. If picked too soon, they don't get better sitting on the kitchen counter. My ears are not trained to recognize the perfect dull, hollow sound when thumped that most people use, so I went with what I call the belly-method. If the skin on the melon that rests on the ground (the belly) is creamy-white rather than white, it is ready. Daily for many days I checked the belly ... and waited. This method must be a good one, if our experience is any indication.
Other firsts this summer: first time I have enjoyed eating honey. Again, home "grown" is best! First time I have grown banana peppers, pumpkins, heirloom vegetables, a variety of herbs other than basil, potatoes, corn, butter beans. First time I have put up tomatoes in small, frequent batches and steamed okra in one-serving batches. (I used to wait to get enough to do a big batch only to have to throw most of it away because it got too ripe.) First time I have made my own pumpkin meat for pie. First ... and last ... time I have grown Plum Granny melons. First time I have understood the difference between determinant and indeterminant tomatoes* ... and cared. I ignorantly planted all determinants and have found myself without tomatoes at season's end.
The season is not completely over, so hopefully more firsts are ahead. Firsts are alot of work. Maybe that is a large part of why they are so satisfying.
* Determinant and indeterminate are terms related to the growh habits of tomatoes. Indeterminants are plants that have a vining habit and produce a moderate amount of tomatoes continually throughout the growing season. Determinate plants have one or two full flushes of production, usually resulting in several large harvests as opposed to an indeterminate's smaller but more steady production.