Doll Baby Icebox watermelon and Sun Jewel melon

I have been concentrating on feeding the garden, both with foliar sprays and nutrient drenches. Just imagining that every annual vegetable is a baby and a mother during its short life cycle, makes me want to give each one as much support as I can. Before I became aware of following a feeding schedule, a lot of my plants simply phased out before frost arrived. Now, I am able to keep everybody happy until the season is finally done.

I have been mixing up batches in our rain barrel to distribute through the Snip-n-Drip system. There are many choices for what to feed, including fish fertilizer, seaweed or kelp, and pre-mixed blends from companies like Fox Farm, which we carry in our Vermont garden centers. Just remember to make sure the fertilizer you choose is water-soluble. If you have a go-to recipe that you rely on, please share it with us in the comment section.

Aug. 7: Watermelon Shrub

The weather has been gorgeous lately. This past week has felt like the height of summer, not just because of the warmth and sunshine, but also because the melons are ripening. At home, I am harvesting:

  • Diplomats, a cantaloupe variety with green flesh
  • Sun Jewels, an oblong, pale-fleshed Korean melon
  • Doll Baby Icebox – watermelons, both yellow and pink fleshed

In addition to homemade popsicles and watermelon-tomato salads, I’ve finally been able to try my hand at making a “shrub.” If you live in a place with a rich agricultural past, you may have heard of shrubs or switchels: vinegar-based fruit drinks that were popular during the long days of harvesting. The vinegar and sugar help keep us hydrated in the heat — think of them as the original sports drinks!


Watermelon Shrub

Macerating the watermelon

Macerating the watermelon with honey

I found this to be refreshing and flavorful. I used honey and apple cider vinegar. Because the ingredients are in equal parts, the recipe can be scaled up or down with ease.

  • 1 cup watermelon, cut into 1″ chunks (substitute any melon, or berry for that matter)
  • 1 cup sugar or honey (more or less, to taste)
  • 1 cup vinegar (try apple cider, champagne or white wine vinegar; distilled white vinegar may be too harsh)

In a medium bowl, combine the melon and sweetener. Place in a cool, dark location, such as the refrigerator, for 12 to 24 hours. (If you’re in a hurry, use a blender or food processor to process the melon until smooth. Strain out the seeds and transfer the mixture to a saucepan.)

Over medium heat, cook just until the sugar dissolves.

Add the vinegar to the sweetened melon.

Press the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or 3 layers of cheesecloth.

Dilute the concentrate with water, to taste. Serve over ice and store in the refrigerator. Great in cocktails!

A frosty glass of Watermelon Shrub

A frosty glass of Watermelon Shrub

Do you have any experience with shrubs, switchels or other garden sodas? Tell us in the comments, below.