Just because our gardens are done doesn’t mean that we gardeners are settling back in our easy chairs with our fuzzy slippers on… not yet, anyway! The next meeting of the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be on Thursday, October 17 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sunshine Room at SIGN on North Street. This is “member-involvement” night, where everyone is invited to bring five helpful gardening hints to share with the group. I think Liz will be combining all these great hints into a booklet form, which was much sought-after last year! So think of some hints before the 17th! But don’t let the words “member-involvement” scare you — you don’t have to be a member to come to the meetings! If you enjoy plants or gardening you are more than welcome!
Last time we had tea together, I was telling you about an interesting show called “The Mind Of A Chef”, which talked about growing farro. They also talked about the history of the Bradford watermelon, and it has quite a story! The Bradford watermelon fell off the gardening map in the 1920’s, but was brought back into commercial production just this year.
So where was the Bradford watermelon? The Bradford was grown by eight generations of the Bradford family since the 1840’s; where it was planted was a carefully guarded secret. Because the watermelon could easily cross-breed with other melons, it had to be planted a mile away from any other threatening garden plots. There is mystery and intrigue involving the history of how this melon was kept safe and undefiled by the Bradford family.
Nat Bradford, a descendant of the family, is a landscape architect, and he talks about the splendid Bradford watermelon on the “Working For Food” website. In the article, he explains how he was introduced to the family watermelon business: “At the age of ten, my two brothers and I were introduced to the Bradford Family watermelon field. My grandfather, Theron Bradford, (I’ll refer to him as my “Papa”) enlightened us on the history of our watermelons and how to plant them.
The most important thing I learned is to never, never, never let the watermelon cross with another variety. This was ensured by planting them at least a mile away from any other patch. For three generations, these watermelons rotated in one little field far away from other patches and well out of sight.
As far as descriptions go, words cannot do justice. If you ask anyone in the family what they think about “store-bought” melons, you’ll get some variation of “never as good as a Bradford.” I will, as unbiased as I can be, admit that there is a uniqueness to our melon that I have never experienced outside of our fields.
If you placed our watermelon beside the store-bought sorts, ours might look a bit peculiar: sort of like an alien, oversized, green cucumber. It hasn’t been updated to easily accommodate the modern refrigerator… no matter how you slice it.”
So if we see “Bradford” watermelons in the store, we’ll know that it is something extra special! If you are interested, check out the cute animated video of the Bradford watermelon on YouTube at The Bradford Watermelon Story - Mind of a Chef.
And gardeners, if you are cleaning up your yard and find some exceptional veggies, consider entering them in Harvest Showdown, which happens October 30 to November 2. Call the Yorkton Ex office for details. Have a great week, gardeners!