When I came up with the title of this new monthly entry, which will report various watermelon-related news from around the Web, I thought I was being clever with my choice of title. “Watermelon bites” can refer to bites of watermelon, but it can also refer to the little blurbs known as news bites.
But then it occurred to me that there was a third meaning in that word choice. The “bites” in the title could also describe something that’s bad, as in “Your dog ate your last slice of watermelon and then drank your last beer? Man, that really bites.” Of course, anyone who knows me realizes that I don’t think watermelon “bites,” so I’m going to keep the title as is … at least until I come up with something better.
1. THE MAKING OF A GIANT (PART ONE) – Holly, Michigan native Mark Clement knows a thing or two about growing oversized fruits and vegetables. Earlier this year, he grew a 1,032-pound pumpkin and now his 265-pound watermelon – which he named “Captain Marvel” – is on its way to an Ohio watermelon festival to compete for a $2,000 prize. Even if his giant watermelon doesn’t take home the top prize, Clement can still cash in on his green thumb by selling seeds from the immense watermelon for as much as $10 each.
2. THE MAKING OF A GIANT (PART TWO) – Todd Dawson (above) of Garner, North Carolina spent much of his free time this past summer growing what almost became the largest watermelon in history. Dawson’s monster was harvested at 282 pounds – a new state record, and just nine pounds shy of the world record. As you’d imagine, growing a watermelon that size takes a lot of work. Dawson spent two hours a day keeping it healthy, which included careful pruning of a vine that covered 420 square feet, building a bed of sand, and placing rat traps around the watermelon to ward off invading rodents.
3. WASTE NOT, WANT NOT – Up to a fifth of all watermelons never make it to the grocery store, mainly because, like many other fruits and vegetables, they have a non-uniform shape. Tossing out or plowing under these misshapen watermelons is no longer necessary, however, now that Wayne Fish, a chemist at the Agricultural Research Service in Lane, OK, is able to extract ethanol from them. Normally, this biofuel is produced from cane crops like corn, sorghum or sugarcane as a cleaner-burning alternative to gasoline. From the unharvested watermelons on just one acre of land, Fish and his team were able to create 23 gallons of ethanol. The researchers envision a transportation infrastructure visiting farms to whisk the unused watermelons away for ethanol processing.
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