Article and photos: Greta Nielsen (COGS Quarterly – Spring 2021)

The sweetest rockmelons I’ve ever tasted in my life were grown in the deserts of far western China and Kazakhstan, where they’re called ‘hami’ melons. So, for the first time, I tried growing rockmelons from seed this year. The seedlings came along very easily started at home on the patio.

Once in the ground, I was surprised, having grown cucurbits before, how small the leaves were. They spread across the strawberry patch. They’re not particularly robust as a vine, but I was pleasantly surprised by how many large fruit I got off two plants — about 10.

Unfortunately, I only managed to harvest five for my own consumption because the mice/rats ate three of them, which meant leaving the sweetest, largest ones rotting and deflated — like my spirits this year. Ha!

After having lost most of my pumpkin crop from waiting for them to harden on the vine, my recommendation with the rockmelons is the same — pick them as soon as they look ripe enough. Make sure you don’t wait until their stems go brown and instead take them home to ripen. They’re not too water hungry.