ANIMAL EATING WATERMELON: DUCKS!

April 24th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

So far in the “animals eating watermelon” series, I’ve featured lions, porcupines, chipmunks, hippos, guinea pigs, baby mice, lizards, deer, elephants, squirrels, turtles, cats and potbellied pigs. All of them chowing down on watermelon like there’s no tomorrow.

I’ve never featured a bird eating watermelon, and I was beginning to wonder if birds even liked fruit, until I found the video below. It features two ducks, happily gnawing on half of a watermelon. My favorite part of the video is the hungry slurping sound they make while they peck away at their snack.

It’s also nice to see them sharing the watermelon with each other so willingly. No squawking, no pecking, no feathers flying. Ducks are cool like that.

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VINTAGE PHOTO: THE WATERMELON EATERS

April 22nd, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

I’ve seen a lot of old photos in my lifetime (what can I say, it’s a fascination of mine), and one thing is for sure: Back in the old days, people really liked to take pictures of themselves eating watermelon.

No other food has so many vintage snapshots. Burgers? Nope. Ice cream? Not quite. Corndogs? Not even close. There’s just something about watermelon that puts a smile on people’s faces – then and today – which makes it a good photo op food.

The snapshot above is a good example. It’s called simply “watermelon eaters,” and beyond the name and the happy expressions on everyone’s faces, not much else is known about the image. As always – because this is what I do when I look at old mysterious photos – I’ll fill in the historical blanks by making up my own story about this moment frozen in time.

In my head, this photo was taken on June 18, 1932, in Secaucus, New Jersey. The Secaucus High School Class of 1912 had gathered for their 20-year reunion (they all thought it would be fun if everyone wore white shirts). The event was actually kind of boring until Jimmy (that’s him lying proudly in the front) produced half a dozen ripe watermelons from his cousin’s farm. Even back in high school, Jimmy always did know how to have a good time.

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THE WORLD’S LARGEST BOWL OF WATERMELON

April 18th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

I’ve never been much of a skateboarder. I tried it a few times as a teenager, but quickly realized that my lack of coordination and brittle bone structure made it a bad idea for a personal pastime. Still, I can appreciate the amazing skills of professional skateboarders, who seemingly defy the laws of gravity with some of their tricks and stunts.

If I were a professional skateboarder (or an amateur skateboarder with even an ounce of skill), I’d probably book a flight to Argentina to skate on the awesome watermelon bowl seen above. The bowl was painted by artist Patricio Pascale.

The image reminds me of another watermelon-loving skater, Mr. J. Slice himself. That’s him on the right. Even though he’s a top-heavy watermelon, he’s a much better skateboarder than I am. Then again, watermelons are tough, thanks to their thick rind, so it kind of makes sense. That also explains why he wears elbow and knee pads, but doesn’t need a helmet.

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2013 WATERMELON FESTIVAL CALENDAR

April 16th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

The five-minute video above is a great snapshot (videoshot?) of the legendary Luling Watermelon Thump festival in Luling, Texas. The Luling Watermelon Thump is the host of the biggest seed-spitting contest in America, but it’s just one of many watermelon festivals held throughout the nation each year.

If you’re hoping to combine fun and watermelon this year, below is a calendar of events. New additions to this year’s list are the Wright’s Market Watermelon Festival (the northernmost festival on the calendar) and the Arkansas Valley Fair Watermelon Day. If I’m missing any festivals, please leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list.

Also, if anyone visits any of these festivals (or others), send me some pictures (watermelonexperts@gmail.com) and I’ll post them here on What About Watermelon!

HAMPTON COUNTY WATERMELON FESTIVAL (June 22-30)

LOCATION: Hampton, South Carolina

HIGHLIGHTS: Melon Miss & Master Pageant, watermelon eating contest, watermelon growing contest, parade

LULING WATERMELON THUMP (June 27-30)

LOCATION: Luling, Texas

HIGHLIGHTS: Watermelon contest, coronation of watermelon queen, watermelon eating contest, champion watermelon auction, world championship watermelon seed-spitting contest

PANHANDLE WATERMELON FESTIVAL (June 22-23)

LOCATION: Chipley, Florida

HIGHLIGHTS: Watermelon beauty pageant (not sure whether this one is for people or watermelons), big watermelon contest and auction, watermelon seed-spitting contest

BEAUREGARD WATERMELON FESTIVAL (Late June, but 2013 date TBD)

LOCATION: DeRidder, Louisiana

HIGHLIGHTS: “Cutting of the Melon” kick-off event, celebrity seed spitting contest

WRIGHT’S MARKET WATERMELON FESTIVAL (late July last year, 2013 date TBD)

LOCATION: Mardela Springs, MD

HIGHLIGHTS: Watermelon games, live music, petting zoo, contests, crafts

PAGELAND WATERMELON FESTIVAL (July 19-20)

LOCATION: Pageland, South Carolina
HIGHLIGHTS: Watermelon seed-spitting contest, watermelon eating contest.

MISSISSIPPI WATERMELON FESTIVAL (July 19-20)

LOCATION: Mize, Mississippi
HIGHLIGHTS: Watermelon seed-spitting contest, watermelon eating contest, greased watermelon race.

LOUISIANA WATERMELON FESTIVAL (July 25-27)

LOCATION: Farmerville, Louisiana

HIGHLIGHTS: Watermelon seed-spitting contest, largest watermelon contest, watermelon decorating, watermelon hunt, watermelon auction, watermelon quality and tasting competition, arm wrestling contest (I know the last event isn’t watermelon-related, but an arm wrestling contest is pretty cool, so I gave it a mention)

HOPE WATERMELON FESTIVAL (August last year, but 2013 dates TBD)

LOCATION: Hope, Arkansas

HIGHLIGHTS: Watermelon Olympics (with a watermelon toss, among other events), a seed-spitting contest, “Watermelon Idol” talent show, watermelon eating contest

ARKANSAS VALLEY FAIR WATERMELON DAY (August 17)

LOCATION: Rocky Ford, Colorado

HIGHLIGHTS: Free watermelon, seed-spitting contest, watermelon carving contest, watermelon derby horse race

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RECIPE: WATERMELON SLICES WITH MINT AND LIME

April 12th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

In many cases, you can make an “ordinary” food item a whole lot better just by adding a few simple ingredients. Oatmeal is better with a sprinkle of brown sugar. Pizza gets pizzazz with a dash of oregano. Ice cream is more fun with a few sprinkles.

Watermelon is the same way, and today’s recipe is a good example of that “simple ingredients” formula. What happens when you sprinkle chopped mint and lime juice on a few wedges of watermelon? You’ll have to try it for yourself to find out, but I think we can all agree it sounds pretty awesome.

WATERMELON SLICES WITH MINT AND LIME

(Via RealSimple.com)

INGREDIENTS

1 chilled seedless watermelon

1/2 bunch fresh mint

4 limes, 2 zested, 2 juiced

3/4 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS

Cut the watermelon into wedges. Chop the mint leaves and place in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the lime zest. Add the sugar and stir well. Place the watermelon on a serving plate and squeeze the lime juice over the wedges. Sprinkle on the mint-lime sugar.

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SECOND SLICE: HOW (AND WHY) SQUARE WATERMELONS ARE MADE

April 10th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

The following was posted previously on What About Watermelon, but it’s a fascinating topic, so I’ve decided to post it again. Enjoy!

Let’s get one thing out of the way right up front: It doesn’t matter what shape the watermelon is, it’s what’s inside that matters. That said, you have to admit there’s something cool about watermelons that defy convention by assuming different shapes.

Last month, I talked about Japanese farmers who had figured out a way to grow heart-shaped watermelons. Of course, the precursor to those sweethearts are the unusual square watermelons that got their start in Japan almost a decade ago. But how are they grown, and why bother tampering with Mother Nature? Both are good questions. I’m glad I asked them.

First, the how. It’s actually pretty easy (relatively speaking) to grow a square watermelon. Just about anyone can do it. While the watermelon is still small on the vine, a square, tempered glass box is placed around it. When the watermelon gets bigger, it assumes the shape of the box! You can do this too. There are even websites dedicated to teaching you how. Just remember to use a glass or transparent mold so the sunlight can reach the watermelon on all sides (except the bottom, I guess).

And why are square watermelons grown? Two reasons actually. First, the square watermelons are easier to stack, which makes them easier to ship. Second, and perhaps most ingeniously, with space being an issue in crowded areas of Japan, the square watermelon is designed to fit perfectly inside smaller Japanese refrigerators.

But, just like the heart-shaped creations, square watermelons cost a bit more than one shaped by Mother Nature. It’s a small price to pay for the ability to store it in your fridge, although I guess you could just cut up a normal watermelon and make it fit. Oh well… the square ones still look pretty darn cool.

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APRIL PRIZE: THE REUSABLE WATERMELON SANDWICH BAG

April 8th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

I’ve always been amazed by the evolution of the sandwich bag. Yeah, it doesn’t take much to amaze me.

When I was a kid, “zip lock” bags didn’t exist, which meant sandwiches were packed in those bags with the little flap that you folded over and tucked into the top of the bag. Remember those? They seemed to work okay, but they weren’t airtight and didn’t do a great job of keeping certain “wet” snacks from leaking into your lunchbox.

And then, sometime in the mid to late 80s, zip lock bags burst onto the scene, and the art of packing a lunch hasn’t been the same since. I’m pretty sure they still make the old school non-zip lock bags, although I don’t know anyone who actually uses them.

Nowadays, you can buy reusable sandwich bags like the watermelon-themed sack pictured above. I like this bag, not just because it’s all watermelony, but because it also helps the environment by keeping all those used plastic bags out of landfills.

According to the Etsy seller who handmade this bag and is selling it for just $7, the bag measures 7 inches by 7 inches and includes a full length Velcro seal across the top. The outer lining is made from high-quality cotton, the interior is lined with waterproof nylon, and the bag can be handwashed or machine washed.

I haven’t purchased one for myself, but I have purchased one to be given away as this month’s prize. I’ll choose one comment at random from all the comments left on the blog in April to receive it. What you fill it with is up to you!

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SO, YEAH, ABOUT THAT MOON MELON STORY …

April 4th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

Some of you might have read Monday’s story about plans to grow watermelons on the moon with a bit of skepticism. I don’t blame you. After all, the thought of growing watermelon on the moon seems like something cooked up in a science fiction movie.

Of course, if you read the story to very last line, you would have learned that it was, indeed, an April Fool’s joke.

Do I wish the story were true? Heck yeah! If they can grow watermelon on the moon, it would make me feel a lot more confident about my attempt to grown watermelon here on Earth. Plus, I’d be first in line to taste some of those moon melons!

Of course, that doesn’t mean there won’t come a day when the moon is transformed into farmland. That day just isn’t now. And when that day comes, they probably won’t choose watermelon – a crop that requires a LOT of water to grow – as the guinea pig for the experiment. Still, a guy can dream, right?

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SCIENTISTS ANNOUNCE PLANS TO GROW WATERMELONS ON THE MOON

April 1st, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

I’m a little nervous about my ongoing attempt to plant watermelons in my own backyard, but I recently stumbled upon a story that makes my Earth-bound project seem relatively simple by comparison.

In an effort to test the fertility of the lunar surface in preparation for potential colonization of the Earth’s moon, scientists have announced plans to send an unmanned vessel to the Moon in 2014 to plant more than 100 watermelon seeds. The vessel will be tasked with watering the crops during the 120-day experiment and transporting samples of the “moon melons” back to Earth for testing and consumption.

The moon farming craft at the heart of the out-of-this-world mission will be called “Jubilee” (after the type of watermelon that will be planted), and will be roughly the size of a small go-kart. Jubilee will make use of special technology that will allow it to create water found in tiny ice particles naturally found in space.

Although the scientific team hopes to grow at least two dozen watermelon to maturity, Jubilee will only be able to transport a few samples of the melons back to Earth when it completes its mission late next year.

“It’s hard to say how the watermelon will taste after being grown in the low-gravity environment of the moon’s surface, but our tests indicate that they’ll be just as nutritious as watermelon grown here on Earth,” said a scientist close to the project.

If all goes well, the mission could result in additional crops grown on the moon in 2015 and beyond, with the goal of creating a full-time “moon farm” within the next 10 years. I’d definitely be willing to give the moon melons a try, wouldn’t you?

(This is, of course, an April Fool’s joke, but wouldn’t it be cool if it were real?)

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GROWING A WATERMELON: PLANTING THE SEEDS

March 29th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

So far in my year-long series chronicling my New Year’s resolution to grow my own watermelon I’ve revealed my plan to become an amateur farmer and shared some insight about how to grow my watermelon.

In today’s entry, I put months of research into action by planting the seed(s) that will ultimately become my very first homegrown watermelon.

For my watermelon, I chose the Sugar Baby, a smaller icebox variety of watermelon that are relatively easy to grow and mature very quickly. The finished fruit will be around 10 pounds and eight inches in diameter with a very sweet taste.

I planted about six of the seeds in this pot and six more in another planter. I’ll keep them both in the window sill of my kitchen for the next four to six weeks. During that time, the seeds should sprout. Then, in mid- to late-April (after the last frost of the season), I’ll transplant the sprouts in my backyard garden.

Right now, I don’t have a “backyard garden,” so I’ll be creating that in about four weeks and showing that process in my next entry!

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