Watermelon

I've never grown watermelon before, but I took the plunge this year (Petite Yellow from Seed Savers).
The first melon is getting to softball sized and I realize that I don't know how to tell when a watermelon is ripe. These are the small sort (in case that wasn't obvious from the name).
Any hints?
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Drew Lawson

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snipped-for-privacy@furrfu.invalid (Drew Lawson) wrote:

Well if you tap your head and it is similar to tapping your melon it is unripe. If you tap your chest and the sound is similar the melon it is ripe. If you tap your stomach and the melon sounds similar it is over ripe. Useful for most melons like cantaloup etc.
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Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden

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On Wed, 25 Jul 2012 15:32:25 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@furrfu.invalid (Drew Lawson) wrote:

When melons are peak ripeness, they should pull away from the vine with a gentle tug. The "umbilical cord" if you will should be at a dry stage. You shouldn't be tearing out a patch of flesh from the end of the melon to free it - that's not a "gentle tug".
While they're ripening, keep the watering consistent - if the soil dries, the melons abort.
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Sean Straw said:

That's true for muskmelons, but it's not true for watermelons. You should wait for a muskmelon to "slip" before harvesting. (And when you pick a muskmelon at the market, you should avoid any that have stems or parts of stems attached to them.)
Watermelons will be perfectly ripe well before they slip.
In addition to the 'thump' test Bill described, you can also keep and eye on the vine tendril nearest the watermelon's stem. When it starts to dry up, that's usually an indication for ripeness.
The watermelon rind will lose its shine and the surface feels different when you drag your fingers over it. The bottom will turn from pale green to white to cream as the watermelon ripens.
But really, picking a ripe watermelon is very much an art, and can depend on the variety you are growing.
This is a pretty thorough accounting:
http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/cornucop/2002071935010165.html

to aborting fruit when the vines are under stress. Normally by stress, we're talking drought, nutrient shortage, extreme heat or cold, disease or pest loads, but quite often 'stress' is a heavy, early fruit set. So you shouldn't be surprised to see new little fruits or even blossoms dropping off when you've already got several good sized ones in development.
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Pat in Plymouth MI

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