The Story of a Seed: Sweet Siberian Watermelon

by Tusha Yakovleva

Every seed tells a story! In this blog series, we explore the in depth story from seed to pack to art for our new art pack varieties. Get to know the sweet, crunchy, apricot-colored, short-season-ready Sweet Siberian Watermelon.

img_5246_2_What makes Sweet Siberian Watermelon stand out: This delicious, extra sweet watermelon, with its apricot-colored flesh, crunchy texture, deep green rind, and short maturity period is a perfect choice for northern growers like those in the Northeast, and maybe even in Siberia. The oblong fruits can grow up to 10 pounds!

img_2604_1History of Sweet Siberian Watermelon: Originally hailing from Russia, Sweet Siberian Watermelon was first offered in the US by Peter Henderson and Co. in 1898. The USDA maintains seed banks throughout the country that help researchers, breeders, and seed companies access a huge diversity of genetic material; it is a vital store of materials that have been collected from around the world. Glenn Drowns, director of the Sand Hill Preservation Center in Iowa, discovered this variety as a seed bank accession, quickly learning that it was an ideal orange-fleshed watermelon for his short-season area.

siberian_fieldHow to Grow, Harvest, and Eat: Miraculously, this robust variety, with long vines and fruits up to 10 pounds, matures in just 80 to 85 days. Direct sow it two weeks after threat of frost has passed, or start indoors one to two weeks before last frost. Plant in full sun, and mulch in between the plants if possible. Watermelons enjoy hot temperatures and need only moderate water to set fruit. In fact, fruit are sweetest in dry seasons. These melons have a thin rind and are susceptible to cracking when ripe - so, when they reach the size of a soccer ball, check them often for peak ripeness. Enjoy just as they are: sweet and sun-warmed, directly from the garden, or pair with Blacktail Mountain and Cream of Saskatchewan on a platter for a dazzling display of watermelon color.
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About the Art and Artist: Seeds for our favorite watermelon are packaged in the most fitting art pack design by Caitlin Parker. Caitlin's work features a wolf painted with flower prints, that pays homage to this variety's Russian roots.Caitlin is a multidisciplinary artist whose work examines decay, growth, the passing of time, and the tensions between humans and nature. Since receiving her BA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London and her MFA in painting from Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College, Parker has exhibited her work in New York, California, Nevada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. She has had solo shows at Wave Hill, Bronx, NY; Michael Steinberg Fine Art, NYC; Garage Gallery, Los Angeles; and Rhodes and Mann Gallery, London. Parker has been the recipient of grants including the Rodney Burn Prize, Bard College MFA fellowship, and Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant, which took her to conduct research and photograph Ukraine’s Chernobyl site. Her work can be found in the collections of Progressive Corporation, The British Airways, SEI Investment Corporation, Saks Fifth Avenue Art Collection and The West Collection. She grew up in Northern California and lives and works in upstate New York.

Read more about how Caitlin created the artwork for Sweet Siberian Watermelon on her blog.