This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Of all our summer fruits, none are more rich and delicious, more grateful to the palate, than a well-grown and ripened green -fieshed or nutmeg melon. There is, however, a vast difference in the quality on the same vine, even where the soil is best suited, owing to its need of a warm, clear sun to mature it to perfection. We have eaten fruit, one week, of delicious richness, and again from the same vine, a week or so later, that was hardly palatable, entirely attributable to the condition of atmosphere. There is also just as much difference in the varieties grown side by side with soil and culture alike, as there is in any other fruit. Again: the plant intermingles so readily in its blossoms with other sorts, or with any of the curcurbita family, that it is extremely difficult to obtain pure seed of any one sort. With pure seed obtained, however, no one fruit will better repay care and culture than the nutmeg or green-fleshed melon. In our practice we sow our seed on pieces of reversed sod, placed in a frame with a very gentle bottom-heat, about the 1st of April, and as soon as they are evidently striking roots too deep for the sod, we transfer them to another frame, placing under each three thicknesses of reversed turf or sod, and giving each near two feet of room; from this they go to the garden, where they are for a time protected at night and on cold windy days by means of a box frame with a cover of cotton cloth.
Our soil is a bright sandy loam, not rich, but each year having a little well - rotted manure dug into it; and when we plant, we place the plant nearly on a level with the surface, and afterward keep it clean of weeds. We never draw earth up to the plant in the common way of a mound or hill. Such has been our practice for some years, and by it we have succeeded in producing a good crop. As we have said, it is difficult to procure varieties true to name, owing to the readiness with which the pollen intermingles if two or more varieties are grown within a hundred yards of each other; but if seed is not wanted to be obtained from the crop, the flavor or character of the year's crop is in no way affected by proximity to other melons, cucumbers, etc. To our taste, the green-fleshed melons are the best, but many persons like the yellow or orange colored fleshed varieties, commonly called Cante-lopes, a name or appellation that, according to Loudon, was "bestowed on them from a seat of the Pope near Rome, where this variety is supposed to have been originally produced".
From our notes we extract the following as our judgment on varieties, assisted at , times by friends with appreciating tastes:
This variety varics much in form - (see our two drawings). It is of a pale whitish green color, rather deeply ribbed, moderately netted, sometimes almost smooth, moderately thick rind, flesh whitish green, good but not rich. It is not an early maturing variety, the first fruit about a week after the citron.
Fig. 108. - Alvord's Hybrid.
Fig. 109. - Alvord's Hybrid.
This old variety is larger than the one under the name of Skillman's Fine Netted, but not as productive, - nor with us is it as rich flavored.
This is an early maturing variety, with a reddish yellow flesh, sweet, but lacking flavor, larger than the green-fleshed sorts, bat not as large as the old yellow cantelope once so common, but now rarely grown except by people who have no knowledge of the new and superior sorts introduced of late years.
We have grown this variety something over ten years in succession. It is very productive and early, not as large as some, but fully makes up in numbers. It is roundish in form, with fine netting, thin rind, and thick, greenish flesh, rich, sweet, and highly perfumed.
Fig. 110. - Skillman's Netted.
This old sort we have tried repeatedly to grow to a character meeting the reputation it has often received, but so far have failed. With us it is large, handsome outwardly, of a light sulphur yellow, but the flesh void of any but a sweet dead or flat character. In our Southern States it may be desirable, but according to our experience is not worth growing at the North and West.
This variety we have grown two seasons. It is a strong spreading grower, quite productive, bearing a fair-sized fruit generally long oval in form, as our drawing shows, with broad deep sutures, and broad lines of netting generally longitudinal. When fully ripe it is lemon yellow, with a creamy yellow flesh, sweet and rich, but not agreeable in flavor.
Fig. 111. - Huntington.
This is a quality of flesh one of the best, but with us not a productive sort It is of a medium size, whitish green, slightly netted, flesh greenish white, melting, and delicately sweet. Henderson describes it as having yellow flesh, but none that we have seen possessed flesh other than a greenish white.
Of all the varieties we have ever grown or eaten, none possesses the rich sweetness, delicacy, and perfume of this variety. It is of medium size, larger than Skillman's, but not as early; a light blue green until fully ripe, when outwardly it is a pale yellow or yellow green, ribbed and with broad raised nettings; flesh, thick, green, very rich, sweet, and delicious.
Fig. 112. - Citron.
Were we to select two sorts we should take Skillman's and Citron, and for a third, Alvord's Hybrid.