The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Our Cos­metic Team Of­fer A Range Of Dif­fer­ent Treat -

If you thought ice­berg let­tuce was the quin­tes­sen­tial out­door sum­mer food in Aus­tralia, wa­ter­melon must be a close sec­ond. Slop­ping the cold juice from a piece that’s too big for your mouth is part of the fun and amaz­ing re­fresh­ment. What’s more, its one of those ‘red’ fruits that con­tain ly­copene, from the same paint­box that toma­toes come from, recog­nised for their help with im­mune sys­tems and pos­si­bly even re­duc­ing the risk of cancer.

Is it a fruit or a vegetable? If you thought vegetable, you are correct. It is a cu­cur­bit in the same fam­ily as a pump­kin, squash and cu­cum­bers. But no one re­ally cares much whether it’s a vegetable or fruit.

Wa­ter­mel­ons in sum­mer can be found on the back of a truck on the side of a road, and tonnes of them, as they are one of the most pro­lific of the sum­mer fruits. The long va­ri­ety, or one that looks some­what cylin­dri­cal, is the usual sus­pect.

Oth­ers are round but have lit­tle dif­fer­ence to the larger va­ri­ety, ex­cept they are more man­age­able to cart around.

Then there are those that would have been round but are grown square in Ja­pan. A bolted cage is placed around the melon be­fore it gets too big and the con­fine­ment of the frame cre­ates a square melon. Some­what of an odd­ity, th­ese square mel­ons are highly pop­u­lar in Ja­pan.

China pro­duces half the world’s mel­ons and Aus­tralia grows hon­ey­dew, rock­melon and the larger va­ri­ety of wa­ter­melon in much lesser num­bers.

Wa­ter­mel­ons should have a smooth, striped green and white skin and have pink­ish to red flesh. A wa­ter­melon is about 92 per cent wa­ter, which ex­plains its quench­ing abil­i­ties. Grow them from seed in a con­tainer then plant (they don’t like be­ing trans­planted once in the ground).

They are a ground vine so give them plenty of space, av­er­age amounts of wa­ter as over­wa­ter­ing doesn’t help and a gen­eral fer­tiliser (although none is also an op­tion), so long as you have some good soil and you can har­vest in a few months. They are ripe when the bot­tom is cream or yel­low.

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