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'Astrahan' Watermelon
'Astrahan' Watermelon
'Astrahan' Watermelon

'Astrahan' Watermelon

Regular price $4.00 Sale

Citrullus lanatus

Origin: Mary Wilayat, Turkmenistan

Improvement status: Landrace

Seeds per packet: ~14

Germination tested 12/2023: 80%

Life cycle: Annual

Central Asia not only produces the best melons in the world, but it also grows some of the best watermelons too, despite being thousands of miles from their center of diversity in Africa. 'Astrahan,' a landrace from Turkmenistan, is no exception. We got our stock seeds from the USDA's National Plant Germplasm System, which was given this variety in 2008 by "nationally known farmer and melon selectionist Durdy Nepes, in Mary Wilayat, Sarahs District" (as described in the USDA database). Durdy Nepes is the source for many melons and watermelons now in the USDA collection, and after tasting these watermelons, we can understand why this Turkmen farmer has become famous. This is quite simply one of the finest watermelons we've ever tasted, sweet and juicy and everything a person could want in a watermelon. They're even "icebox" sized, and unlike the seedless freaks found in supermarkets these days, they still have their nutritious and delicious seeds!

From what we can tell, this is a distinct variety from the Russian heirloom 'Astrakhan' watermelon, which comes from the Russian city by the northwest corner of the Caspian Sea. Turkmenistan also borders the Caspian Sea, but by the southeast corner, so it it possible that 'Astrahan' has its roots across the Caspian, but based on photos and descriptions of the Russian variety it seems clear these are different watermelons. What's more, Durdy Nepes also maintains an 'Astrahan 2', so that makes it seem even more likely that the two Turkmenistan varieties are distinct from the Russian one. From having watched these watermelons grow in 2023, it's also obvious that this is a diverse landrace, not an inbred cultivar, as the seeds and fruits look different from plant to plant.

Our seeds were grown by our friends Mud Forte and Harry Matthews in Sicklerville, NJ.

GROWING TIPS: Direct sow in rich soil and full sun after all danger of frost has passed. In short-season regions, you may start them indoors a couple weeks before last frost date. Give the plants plenty of room to sprawl and keep well fertilized (such as with worm castings or compost tea).