Tuesday, June 30, 2020

1764 Plants in 18C Colonial American Gardens - Virginian John Randolph (727-1784) - Melon

A Treatise on Gardening Written by a native of this State (Virginia)
Author was John Randolph (1727-1784)
Written in Williamsburg, Virginia about 1765
Published by T. Nicolson, Richmond, Virginia. 1793
The only known copy of this booklet is found in the Special Collections of the Wyndham Robertson Library at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.


Melon,from Mala, Apple, because ofitsfragrancy. There are but three sorts of Melons that Miller says are worth cultivating, the Portugal or pocket Melon, which is small and round, the Cantaleupe Melon, and the Zatta Melon; the green fleshed Melon, and the netted wrought Melon, he does not esteem, though I have found them very delicious in this country. There is a rough, knotty Melon, called the Diarbekr, from a province belonging to the Turkish empire in Asia, which is reckoned the most exquisite of all Melons, which have been brought to great perfection here, and which are not taken notice of by Miller, probably because it has been brought into England since the publication of his dictionary, unless it is the Zatta Melon. The Portugal Melon has been called by the name of king Charles' Melon, because he used to carry one in his pocket, and also Dormer's Melon, because brought from Portugal by a general of that name. The Cantaleupe originally came from Armenia, on the confines of Persia, but took its name from Cantaleupe, a province about six miles from Rome, where they produce the best. It is known all over Europe, by the simple name of the Cantaleupe Melon, and agrees with all stomachs and palates. The Zatta Melon is greatly esteemed in Florence, Italy, &c. It is small, deep furrowed, rough and warted, and compressed at the ends. Melons should never grow near one another, if of different sorts, or by any means near Gourds, Cucumbers, &c. because the farina of one will impregnate the other, spoil the relish of the fruit, and make them degenerate. , Melon seed should not be sown before three years old, and though they will grow at ten or twelve years, yet they should not be propagated after six years. The early Melon is of little value; the middle of June is early enough. In order to have a proper succession, the seed should be sown at least at two different seasons, about the middle of February if seasonable weather, if not, the latter end. The second sowing should be in March, and the third in May, which last will yield a crop in August, and last until October. The early sowings should be covered with oil paper, in preference to glasses. The culture of Melons and planting theui out, is the same with cucumbers, to which we refer. The compost used by the Dutch and German gardeners, for Melons, is of hazel loam, one third part, of the scouring of ditches, ponds, &c. the same, and a third part of rotten dung, all mixed together, and mellowed by being frequently turned over, and kept twelve months. But Miller prefers two thirds of fresh gentle loam and one third of rotten neats' dung, kept together a year, and often turned. It will take about fifteen good wheelbarrows of dung to a light. Melons of all sorts, but particularly the Cantaleupe, should be planted out as soon as the third or rough leaf appears. These seeds do well to be sown on the upper side of a Cucumber bed. One plant is enough for a light. Watering is very requisite, but in much smaller quantities than Cucumbers, and the water should be laid on at a distance from the stems. When the plant has four leaves, the top of the plant should be pinched off, in order to force out the lateral branches. It must not be cut or bruised ; that wounds the plant, and takes a considerable time to heal. The roots of Melons extend a great way, and often perish after the fruit is set, for want of room, wherefore Miller advises that your beds be twelve feet, and when your frames are filled with vine, to raise it so as to let the vines run under them. When the lateral branches, or, as the gardeners call them, runners, have two or three joints, their tops should be also pinched off, and when your fruit is set, examine the vine and pull all off, except one to a runner, leaving at most about eight to a vine, and pinch off the end of the runner about three joints from the fruit; notwithstanding these are pinched off, there will new runners appear; these should be also taken away. If the ground is not too wet and moist, the lower the plants are the better, and if you plant in a bed, let your trenches be extended in length about three feet and a half wide, and your plants should not be less than five feet asunder, to prevent their vines intermixing. If there are several beds, they should be eight feet asunder, and the spaces between filled up for the benefit of the roots with rotten dung. They ought to be covered in all hard rains. The frames should not be too heavy. Many use laths in imitation of covered wagons; your fruit should be turned twice a week for the advantage of the sun, and if lodged on a board or piece of tile, it will be better; once a week watering will be sufficient. The sign of fruit's maturity is the cracking near the foot stalk; and smelling fragrantly. The Cantaleupe never changes colour, until too ripe. Gather your fruit in a morning before the sun has warmed it, but if gathered after, put it into cold water or ice, and keep those got in the morning in the coolest place; a few hours' delay in gathering will spoil the fruit, wherefore they ought to be overlooked twice a day. Take your seeds from the richest flavoured] fruit, with the pulp, in which it must lie three days before washed out, and save only the heavy seed....that which will sink in water.