I always find it difficult to determine when watermelons are ripe. Cantaloupes are easy, falling from the vine into your arms as they ripen, but watermelon selection is an art, a fine skill known only to a few, with secret gestures and a separate language to enhance its mystery. A single solitary melon, alone in a garden, is a time-bomb with no clock, a conundrum complicated by lack of peers for comparison. A covey of Citrullus sp, nay a horde of them, presents an easier path, a symphony of notes out of which one need only pick the bassoon from the clarinets and trumpets. A solid yellow bottom on a melon is as indicative of readiness as the scarlet hindquarters of a mandrill and suggests similar ripeness.
I cheated this year, planting two 'Crimson Sweet' seedlings from a local market rather than growing my melons from heirloom seed and nursing them through their infancy. Perhaps because of that shortcut, or more likely because of the steady rains this year, I've got a melon patch that is overtaking the garden, smothering first a 'Brandywine' tomato, then the jalapenos and salsa peppers, and now engaging the main body of the tomato army. The massive leaves hide over a dozen melons, with six of the latter as large or larger than this first 36 lb giant. Thirty-six pounds of dead water weight that I carried in a single rush up the hillside to deposit, the provider home from a successful hunt.