Last year Georgia produced almost 20,000 acres of watermelon. That’s a lot when you consider an acre is roughly the size of a football field.
Some of these farms grew a particular watermelon variety and it’s got an animal in the name – one not often associated with a fruit. It’s the Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon and it’s become one of the state’s rare gems.
What could this sweet-tasting watermelon possibly have in common with its reptilian namesake? Keep reading to find out and learn more about this unique fruit.
Colonists first brought watermelons to North America during the 1500s. Eventually, new varieties began to appear.
One of these was the Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon. Introduced around 1870, it’s become one of the oldest heirloom watermelons, and seed preservation efforts are why it’s still with us today.
Heirloom watermelons are usually left to ripen on the vine to ensure they reach their peak sugar level. It’s one of the reasons for the Georgia Rattlesnake’s unique sweet flavor. This taste distinguishes it from other watermelon varieties.
What Makes the Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelon Unique
Why was the Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon given such an interesting name?
For starters, it was developed in the state of Georgia. Like many watermelon varieties, it has light green and dark green stripes. But in the case of this particular watermelon, the stripes create a distinct pattern like the skin of a rattlesnake – hence the name Georgia Rattlesnake!
Taking the comparison a step further, the watermelon’s rind is also described as formidable as the skin and temperament of the rattlesnake. Ironically, a tough rind is rare for an heirloom watermelon as its skin is often more delicate.
The hardy rind, along with its oblong shape makes this a watermelon that’s easily stackable and great for shipping. But handling the Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon may not be as easy as it sounds. It’s usually at least two feet long and can weigh between 25 to 30 pounds. Even 40-pounders aren’t unheard of!
But what’s inside the tough rind is the watermelon’s best feature – a very sweet crimson to scarlet-colored flesh you’re sure to enjoy.
No Venom, Just Lots of Nutrition!
All watermelons are mostly water. The size of a Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon is a good indication of how much water it contains and why its nutrient-packed flesh is so juicy.
Nutritional Value of the Watermelon
Watermelons contain vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients. These are beneficial as they can help:
- Improve digestion
- Prevent certain cancers
- Keep skin healthy
- Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
- Ease sore muscles
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve eye health
A water content of over 90% also makes it a great source of hydration. There are also other advantages of eating watermelons, as described in our blog about The Health Benefits of Watermelon.
A Classic Addition to Any Menu
There are many simple dishes you can make using the Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon. But if you’re adventurous it’s also the perfect watermelon for culinary experiments.
Incorporating the Georgia Rattlesnake Into Your Meals
Why not consider a watermelon steak salad? It’s an interesting twist on eating watermelon. You grill the watermelon, as you would a steak.
Not quite so daring? You can use watermelon to make salad dressing. Watermelon dressing is perfect with Country Panzanella. But you won’t only use the juice of the fruit. Watermelon is also an ingredient in this salad.
One issue you may face after buying an entire Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon? Using all of it while it’s fresh. Homemade watermelon wine is the perfect solution.
For kids, you can even make a watermelon “pizza” to combine watermelon with other fruit in a fun and delicious way.
Where to Buy the Fruit
The downside of the Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon’s heirloom status is that it’s not likely to be sold in stores. This is because they’re harvested when they’re fully ripe, whereas common commercially-sold varieties are picked before peak ripeness to extend shelf life.
If you ask around at farmers’ markets, you might discover a vendor who grows them.
By far, your best chance to enjoy a Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon is by growing your own.
We’ll go over the basics of what growing and caring for watermelon plants entails. We’ve also provided links to our comprehensive watermelon guides that give you more information on the various aspects of growing healthy watermelons.
A trip to Georgia isn’t necessary to enjoy the taste of this amazing watermelon. You can buy Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon seeds online.
Hoss Tools carries the Georgia Rattlesnake, as well as other varieties. They can also get you on the right track with their seed-starting supplies.
Planting the Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelon
You can plant Georgia Rattlesnake seeds directly into the ground or transplant them from seed trays. Our blog post on How to Plant Watermelon in 8 Easy Steps can make either process much easier.
Growing and Harvesting the Georgia Rattlesnake
There are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind while nurturing your seeds into plants. There’s a comprehensive list included in our blog on How to Grow Watermelon.
One key element to note when growing your Georgia Rattlesnake watermelons is limiting the plants’ exposure to excess moisture. Moist leaves can attract some of the more common watermelon diseases. If you do encounter any, follow the advice in our post on How to Treat 7 Deadly Watermelon Diseases.
There are also a few watermelon pests you’ll need to look out for and deal with before they become a major issue. We have a great blog post on How to Identify and Get Rid of Watermelon Pests that can help.
About 90 days after planting, keep an eye on your watermelons’ tendrils. These are the curly green leaves that grow between the watermelon and the stem. When these become dry, it means it’s time to harvest your fruit.
We’ve also got a guide on 7 Easy Ways to Tell When a Watermelon is Ripe so you can enjoy the best flavor from your homegrown Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon.
Georgia’s Other Peach – The Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelon
The state of Georgia is synonymous with the peach. But the other high-yielding fruit crop is the Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon.
Don’t let the name sway you from savoring these sweet, crisp melons you can grow in your backyard.
But don’t limit yourself to one type of watermelon. Visit our page on Watermelon Plants to learn about some other varieties.