A Really Good Reason to Garden

old fashioned muskmelon, old fashioned cantaloupe, old fashioned melons

A couple years ago a friend gave me seed for Old Israeli Melon, commenting that he usually grew some of these for their superb flavor. I tucked a few seeds into a garden and watched them grow. About 76 days later I had a couple ripe melons. I knew they were ripe because the entire melon changed color and there was the most heavenly fruity fragrance coming from that garden. Indeed, I believe I could have found the ripe melons even if I was completely blind, just by following my nose! When I cut one and took a bite, I felt like I had found the melon of my dreams! It was absolutely amazing!

melon, cantaloupe
The Old Israeli Melon’s rind goes from green to gold, when ripe.

I had never before heard of this melon. How could this be?! Well, for one thing, I’m no melon expert and my experience with melons is limited. Also, though not particularly rare, one will never find one of these melons in the store. You might not even find it in a farmers market. This is what I would call “non commercial produce.” By that, I mean, this variety is so fragile that one has to take it straight from the garden to the table, or risk it going bad. It absolutely won’t ship, as the rind is fragile and the melon itself, when ripe, is prone to breakage. It’s delicate. Any kind of produce meant for commercial sale, has been selected for durability. I will never complain about cantaloupe in the store, as long as they’re fully ripe, but they don’t hold a candle to one of these.

Non commercial produce cannot withstand the rigors of shipping.

Some folk refer to “non commercial produce” as heirloom. Yet there are some varieties which, though superb and fragile at the same time, are not truly heirlooms. Whatever one calls them, this kind of produce exists and persists by reason of superior characteristics, in spite of a lack of suitability for commercial use.

Practically the only way to enjoy such food is to grow it yourself.

You name the type of produce, almost every type has something “non commercial,” something you either grow it yourself, or only hear of it. Tomatoes are a pretty good example. There are some kinds of tomatoes which are extremely perishable and … extremely tasty. The same is true of beans and other kinds of produce. Grow it and enjoy, or, well, you probably won’t get to try it. Literally, money can’t buy this kind of flavor. You have to be part of the 1%, uh, the other 1%, gardeners, if you want to eat like this.

So, go ahead, start thinking about a garden for next year. Imagine some of the tastes and textures you might get to experience! If you have never gardened before, Homesteading Edu wants to help you succeed. We’ll be publishing courses on basic gardening and on particular crops. We already have some finished and published.

If you’d like to try this melon, here’s a link to a great seed company which carries some wonderful garden varieties:

Willhite Seed Inc./ Probably the best source for Old Israeli Melon Seed 

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