Celebrating Melons at RBG
By Gabe Comezzi, Education Programs Coordinator, Royal Botanical Gardens.
For many home gardeners and fruit lovers, summer in Ontario would not be complete without the sweet, juicy taste of fresh melon! With the arrival of local watermelons in stores across Ontario, it’s a “vine” time to take a closer look at the varieties of melons that can be grown at home or purchased locally.
Royal Botanical Gardens is home to many examples of plants that can be grown at home, including many fruit-bearing plants. Located inside Hendrie Park, Veggie Village is RBG’s showcase garden for fruit and vegetables. In Veggie Village, our “Mini Love” watermelon and “Diplomat” honeydew are growing quickly, and jelly melon vines are ready to be supported with sturdy tripod trellises as they climb towards the sun. Melons are just a small part of this collection of plants, meant to inspire seasoned green thumbs and garden greenhorns alike to grow their own food at home!
Southern Ontario is a perfect growing region for many species of melon, including honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, and more. The summer heat is essential for creating the sweet taste we associate with melons, and plenty of daily sun (six or more hours) is required to allow for the elaborate vines to create large and healthy fruit. “Early” varieties ripen in under 85 days, meaning mid-August is peak season, with other varieties taking up to 100 days to ripen. If growing your own melons isn’t a possibility, look for local options in August as Ontario’s melon harvest comes in.
Watermelon and other melons are delicious and refreshing on their own. However, they work wonders when added to salads, desserts, and even cocktails. To celebrate the melon harvest, RBG’s on-site catering team have created an easy Watermelon and Strawberry Salad recipe to enjoy in the shade of melon vines on an August evening. For more inspiration, visit our Four-Course Garden bed in Veggie Village to discover our recipe for a refreshing Strawberry and Icebox Melon Parfait. Don’t forget to wipe the juice from your chin after enjoying!
Recipe: Watermelon and Strawberry Salad
Enjoy this fresh melon recipe from the chef’s at the Greenhouse Café! Click the image below to download a full pdf.