Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas Watermelon

On a writer's email loop someone mentioned burying watermelon to preserve them. This had me hunting for sources regarding the preserving of watermelon in the 19th century. Unfortunately, I haven't found much but here is an article in Publications, Volume 24 by Georgia Dept. of Agriculture.©1898


Under a previous head forcing for early melons was discussed. He who is successful therein is sure of a good price for his product, but it will not compare with the fancy figures which the "Christmas Watermelon" commands. One would think their appearance at this season decidedly out of place—that they would be in about as much demand as overcoats on the fourth of July; but, strange to say, the public buys them—with avidity, too, and at enormous prices. So it seems that late watermelons ought to be an achievement much more worth striving for than early ones, while the cost and labor of their attainment are considerably less.

Mr. David F. Verner, of Gwinnett county, Georgia, is noted for the fine melons which he markets at Christmas, and his process is simplicity itself. That it will prove equally easy to all who try it is by no means to be expected, and there will doubtless be many failures and disappointments if others attempt to imitate his methods. But the fact remains that he does raise (and save) late watermelons, and on the 23d of last December sold them in quantities and at good figures on the streets of Buford.

Mr. Verner is sufficiently unselfish to be willing to share the knowledge of his process with the public, and his methods are consequently given in his own words, as follows:

"The variety of watermelon used by me for late keeping is the Georgia Rattlesnake. The plan which I pursue is as follows: I prepare the ground thoroughly during May— not in the usual way by diggiog holes, but by opening deep furrows with a two-horse plow. I use stable manure in the drill, but not too much ; cover with two furrows and leave till planting time. Rows 12-ft. apart—8-ft. in drill. I leave only one vine to the hill. Plant between 18th and 30th of June; cultivate with sweep run very shallow. Don't let the plow touch vines. Melons matured before vine begins to die around root are the only ones easily preserved.

For preservation place in dry cellar on cotton seed. I still have eight fine melons on hand (January 4th) in perfect condition that I intended laving till spring, but in neglecting cellar in which they were stored in order that meat in same cellar should get cold, they have frozen. I aim to raise melons this summer that I can save till melons come again."

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