Melon is one of the most popular fruits of the summer garden, to enjoy it at its best it is not enough to know how to grow it, it is necessary to understand what is the right time to pick it up.
Only by picking the ripe melon you get a sweet, juicy and fragrant fruit: sugars are concentrated in the fruit during the last week of ripening, while if it is picked first it will be tasteless.
The point is that it is not trivial to understand when the melon is ready to be picked, on the one hand you are afraid of picking it unripe, on the other hand waiting too long could mean seeing it rot on the plant.
I try to summarize the useful tips to understand when to harvest melon, they will be important especially to those who are new to the cultivation of this vegetable, since with experience you learn to recognize ripe fruit at first sight.
Ripe melon: recognize it with the 5 senses
Knowing when to harvest a melon is work for all five senses: useful clues are collected with sight, touch, smell and even hearing. The taste will give the final verdict by tasting the fruit, but if you get it wrong then it's too late to fix it!
Personally I use four criteria to understand if the melon is ripe, plus a decisive final test. Here are my criteria:
- View: the color of the skin. When the melon is about to ripen it loses its green color and becomes yellow, ocher or brownish (depending on the variety). This criterion is very useful in orange-fleshed melons. In "winter melons", those with a bright green or yellow skin and a white or light-colored interior, it is even more difficult to choose the right moment.
- Smell: the scent. The melon communicates its degree of ripeness to the nose, when the characteristic sweet scent is felt intensely it is time for harvesting.
- Touch. You have to take the melon at the ends (attachment and apex of the fruit), pressing lightly with your fingers. If you feel a certain softness, it is harvest time.
- Hearing: knock Knock. We can knock lightly with our knuckles, if the melon plays hollow it is still unripe, it does so because the pulp is still hard and dry inside.
The final test of the attachment
When we have finally decided to harvest, it is time for the last check: while the fruit is detached, we must pay attention. If the melon is really ready the attachment must be very dry, so it is enough to slightly twist the fruit because it almost detaches by itself, if instead the peduncle is elastic and opposes too much resistance it is better to wait a few days.
Watermelon is a fruit similar to melon, understanding when to harvest a watermelon is not easy and some criteria apply to both vegetables. If you are interested, I also wrote about this in Orto Da Coltivare.
How long does a melon take to mature
The melon season begins in June and continues throughout the summer.
The classic melon, what is orange inside, it usually takes about 80-100 days to be ready, the fruits then ripen more than three months after sowing, the fruit harvest is gradual and lasts a maximum of one month.
The light-fleshed yellow winter melon, on the other hand, has a longer crop cycle and is ready after four or five months.