Blacktail Mountain Watermelon: Hot Melon for a Cool Climate

Blacktail Mountain Watermelon: Hot Melon for a Cool Climate

blacktail mountain watermelons homegrown

Blacktail Mountain watermelons convening on the counter

Every year I try to grow watermelons and every year by late summer the sprawling vines, lush in vegetation, hold melons the size of limes. This year was different. Even with a remarkably cool summer where tomatoes failed to fein even the slightest blush, I had a bumper crop of watermelons. The trick: I finally found the right variety for the maritime Pacific Northwest in a melon from Idaho called blacktail mountain.

After reading a mouth-watering description by Amy Goldman in her Melons for a Passionate Grower, I was hooked and hopeful. Nine months later, I’m harvesting really crisp and sweet and remarkably prolific watermelons (and I planted the seeds directly July 1). Even the smaller ones with a paler flesh are delicious.  If you’ve never had success growing a watermelon, give this one a try.

Blacktail Mountain: Description from SeedSavers.org
Developed by SSE member Glenn Drowns when he lived in northern Idaho, where summer nights average 43 degrees F. Round 9″ dark green fruits weigh 6-12 pounds. Sweet, juicy, crunchy, scarlet flesh. Does well in hot, humid climates too. Reliable crops. 70-75 days.

Blacktail Mountain: Description from  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
70 days. One of the earliest watermelons we know of, superb for the north, but it also grows well in heat and drought. The flesh is red and deliciously sweet, the fruit have a dark rind and weigh 8-12 lbs. each. This excellent variety was developed by our friend Glenn Drowns, owner of the Sand Hill Preservation Center in Iowa. A favorite of many gardeners across the USA. One of the best we have ever tried!



22 thoughts on “Blacktail Mountain Watermelon: Hot Melon for a Cool Climate”

  • Been sorting out my seed for what I have and what I need to order. Had just tossed all my melon seeds (to the chickens) when you dangle this Blacktail Mtn. tease in front of me. Well, dreaming is what we gardeners do this time of year-I’m in. Also trying the Galineaux (plus other french words) squash found on your blog. At this date, I still have some Blue Hubbard and Delicata left for future use-yeah winter squash!

  • I’ve just found this and I am now inspired to try watermelon again. I am in the Seattle area, is it too late to start these varieties now that it’s almost June?

      • Awesome, I’m so glad to hear this. Do you sow directly into the ground or do you start them inside first? There’s still hope for melons!

        • I’ve done both, with about the same results, but my tip would be don’t wait to transplant the seedlings. Once they sprout with two healthy little leaves, pop them in the ground as their roots want to take off and not be restricted by a seedling tray.

  • Well, I now have 8 seedlings and I will thin to 4 soon. I’ll let you know in a couple months if it works out or not. The only thing holding me back now is that I only have 6 hours of sun, but I’m really crossing my fingers!

    • Success! Posting here for posterity.

      I grew two plants per 15 gallon smart pot, which I think is a little bit small for two plants. One container had 4 melons, the other had 3. All are ripe except for one at the moment! The container that had 3 melons resulted with the largest melon of the bunch, 9 inch diameter. The smallest was in the other container (6 inch).

      Thank you very much for your help.

  • How do I know when a Blacktail Mountain watermelon is ripe? How big do they get? One of mine is the size of a golf ball, the other slightly bigger. They are both in the same pot on my deck. They are a pale green with dark stripes. I have another melon in a different pot; its leaves are similar, but this melon is larger with a more yellowish skin and its stripes are not as dark. Its marker telling what kind of melon it is has lost its identification.

  • On a small island off the coast of Tasmania…mine are looking good, but the two largest female potentials are almost ready to burst into flower ( tomorrow I’m sure)…but no male flowers looking anywhere like opening. Does the maxim that the female flower only opens for a day still apply with this variety..? Anything I can do to ensure these 2 are pollinated?,or will I just lose them if a male doesn’t open in time ?..First time gardener 😳

    • Hi Rose, I’ve found the blossoms stay open and viable for several days at least. If these first melons aren’t pollinated, the plant usually compensates by sending out new shoots and flowers, both male and female. It’s not uncommon for the first melons to not make it, which triggers the plant to get a move on and make more flowers. If you wish to hand pollinate, find a friend growing melons with male flowers intact, and just snip the flower, remove the petals, and transfer the pollen to the female melon flower by ‘painting’ the center pistil with the male flower. But not to worry, if the first fruit don’t set, the next blossoms will. Good luck!

  • 8200 feet in the Rocky Mountains in a cool summer I have about 20 ripe Blacktail melons. I have tried them in the past without luck. They are still picky. Saving seed !

    • Wow Kristen, that is something. I didn’t get around to planting them this summer so I will live vicariously in your success. I love these melons; they give me hope for homegrown melons in a climate better suited for growing rhubarb. Though as of late I think we may be able to grow citrus and dates as each summer is breaking heat index records.

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