|HEADING IN FROM THE WATERMELON PATCH|
Many of my memories of the watermelon farming years are dim since I was in my early teens during that time. Even though I was not old enough to take part in the plowing of the field and planting of the watermelon crop, I certainly remember some of the jobs that my father gave me when the watermelon vines were up and growing.
One of the first jobs once the watermelon plants had broken through the surface of the soil was to “chop” the watermelons. This involved using a hoe and removing the weeds as they came up between and around the young watermelon plants. Because of my age, I did not take part in this task, probably because I would have “chopped” as many small watermelon plants as weeds.
Once the watermelon plants were larger and the vines were running in all directions, it was necessary to “turn the watermelon vines”. Since the watermelon vines would run in all directions, it was necessary to move the vines so they ran along the rows. This would allow room for the tractor and disc between the rows to turn the soil to help control the weeds and soil moisture. My father would take my brother and myself out to the watermelon field near the house, show us how to “turn the vines” and the leave us in the hot sunshine to complete the awesome task. I can remember that there seemed to be no end to the rows and then when you had completed one row there was always another long row waiting.
An unusual task called “painting the watermelons” was necessary one year when the weather was so hot and dry. There was so much heat and sun that year that the top of our Black Diamond melons was being sunburned and turning yellow before they were ripe. This gave a bad appearance to the melons and this sunburned area tended to get soft and rotten before the melons were ready for harvest. To prevent the melons from becoming sunburned, my father came up with a unique plan. He mixed up some whitewash paint and we painted the top of the melons white to prevent them from becoming sunburned. We could easily rub off this nontoxic paint with our hands when harvesting the melons. I can only imagine what this unusual sight of people painting the tops of watermelons presented to people driving by our watermelon patches.
There are many stories to tell of harvesting the watermelon crop, but I will leave these to another blog post.
To be continued……