Long-term investments

When you plant seeds, you know that you are making a deposit that will not show a yield immediately. Plant radishes and you will see a return in a few weeks, plant purple sprouting broccoli and it will be months before you get anything back (although it is always most welcome to see those tasty shoots start to appear in the depths of winter). Plant winter squashes and you are making a real long-term investment over the year.

It has been such a mild autumn, that we only got round to harvesting the final four of our shark’s fin melons today now that we’ve had a couple of frosts and the leaves have died back. We braved the rain to collect these fruits. The tough stems have been put onto one of the raised beds to rot down and return nutrients to the soil, whilst the fruits with their hard skins can be stored in a cool place indoors to be used as required.

One of them had a little rotten patch on the base, so that has been cut up and stewed in a little sunflower oil and its own juice. Once cool, I will freeze it in portions to be added to soups, stews and curries as required. It turns out to be a good addition to a winter vegetable soup, with onion, carrot, parsnip, leek, potato and kale. The less mature fruits do not need to have the seeds removed, which saves a lot of messing around, but I’m not sure about the biggest specimens. The largest one from today’s haul weighed over 4.5kg, which amounts to a lot of eating and well worth the effort to grow this unusual crop.

The seeds came from Garden Organic’s heritage seed library and I’m planning to save some seeds to plant again next year. This species does not hybridise with courgettes or other winter squash, so should breed true, but only time will tell.

It wasn’t really a high-risk investment even though I wasn’t sure what the return would be, and certainly it’s worth another shot next year… especially if it means you can be harvesting such good things in the middle of December.

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20 Comments

  1. Every time you post about these shark fin melons I wonder how they got the name! But as variety is the spice of life they sure sound like an intriguing addition to the garden – and cooking menu! Have you tasted one uncooked? I am curious.

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    • They taste slightly melony when not cooked, a bit like a honeydew but nowhere near as sweet. The melon flavour disappears when they are cooked and they are very mild.
      The name comes from the fact that the fibrous texture resembles shark fin meat… at least that’s what I’ve read, never having encountered read shark fin I don’t know!

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      • Then they are a most worthwhile addition to your diet. Low in sugars, high in fibre and able to assimilate with many other flavour combinations. Can be eaten as main or dessert or snack…… Sounds like a very valuable crop to me! 🙂

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  2. Jam! You could be making jam with them in the middle of December too! But that’s an impressive fruit there, no wonder Mr SoH looks as proud as a new parent.

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  3. What handsome fellows they are too. I love their mottled markings. What a wonderful day you must have had bringing this crop home!

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  4. Anne Phillips

     /  December 15, 2014

    I love reading about everyone’s endeavors. Being a townie with very limited space I always enjoy seeing what everyone is up to gardening wise. I do try to buy other peoples “gluts” and do something with them, I love making Pond Pudding with lemons at so warming and filling at this time of year.

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    • I’d love your recipe for pond pudding… i sounds just the thing for this dark winter evenings!

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      • Anne Phillips

         /  December 15, 2014

        At daughters till tomorrow will post when we get back to Wales as can’t remember quantities only guesstimates! 🙂

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          • Anne Phillips

             /  December 17, 2014

            Pond Pudding
            200gr SR flour, 1 tsp salt, 100gr suet we use vegetarian, 145 ml milk, 150gr salted butter chilled and cubed, 80gr light unrefined muscavado sugar, 80gr unrefined demerara, 2 unwaxed lemons.
            Mix flour salt and suet together add milk to bind. Roll out 30cm circle cut out a 1/4 to save for the lid. Grease 1 litre pudding basin line with larger piece of pastry flatten at the bottom and join the cut edges. Mix butter and sugar together roughly put half the mixture in the bottom of the basin. Roll lemons around to release juices and prick all over with a skewer. Snuggle lemons into the butter and sugar mixture and add rest of mixture over the top. Roll out remaining pastry to a circle to fit top of basin, brush edges with water, seal and trim excess. Cut piece of baking paper and tin foil 5cm bigger than top of basin hold together fold a pleat in the centre to allow for expansion. Place paper side down on to pudding secure with string under basin rim. Place in pan, pour boiling water to 2/3rds way up basin. Cover with lid and steam for 4 hours, keep an eye on water level and top up as necessary. Have some cream or natural yoghurt to serve if wished. When we made it regularly when the family was bigger I did use my pressure cooker to save time.
            Hope that makes sense! Anne x

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          • Thank you… may try this at the weekend for our Solstice celebration… it sounds like a brilliant combination of lemony sunshine and a filling winter warmer! I have printed it out on yellow paper too!

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          • Anne Phillips

             /  December 17, 2014

            My pleasure enjoy x

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  5. I’m so impressed. (Spoken as someone who is coming to the conclusion that my fingers are not very green.)

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  6. I am fighting pumpkin vines for possession of Sanctuary as we speak. They appear to be wanting to take over Sidmouth but I refuse to give in to their demands! Love those melons. Perfect for a mild background texture and bulk filler for all kinds of jam and pickles. I wonder if they would be good fermented in kimchi?

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    • I have finally decided what to make you for sanctuary… it may take a little while, but I promise it will be worth the wait! It’s ok, it’s not a knitted pumpkin vine!!

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      • HAHAHA! I could at least keep that one in check. The rest of my pumpkins are going for broke. I had to pull out 4 pumpkin vines from my garden beds that had hibernated and gone mental in the few warm days that we have had so far this summer. A very mild cool season so far (I am NOT complaining) and forecast rainy Christmas Day. Great for heat hating narfs but not so great for the garden. Stevie-boy and I are busy little beavers at the moment whipper snipping all of the back paddocks etc. to reduce fire risk. Once we finish that we are going to tidy up Sanctuary and put in some seatage for narfs to sit and water and think. I think it’s about time I hit Sanctuary with a bit of narfish ecclectia. I have lots of bits and bobs I have been saving for this purpose including a very old cast iron bed head, a wooden comb insert from a bee hive that I found on my last walk with Earl (honey still intact 😉 ) and lots of strange jangly, shiny, twizzly things that make narfs happy. I have almost got enough bottle caps to make my great homage to drinking soon. Summer life is good 🙂

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  7. This was somewhat educational for me. I’ve never heard of shark fin melons and the recipe for pond pudding sounds like a foreign language. I have no idea what narf77 just said so I’m assuming there is a code in this message that we in the US will never break. 🙂 I’ll have to keep coming back till I learn the code. Oh my.

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  1. The turning of the year | The Snail of Happiness

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