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Vern Ankersen had a bit of a mystery.

In May 2016, the Fremonter and his wife, Jan, moved into a house on Grant Street.

“This summer, I started putting in cement benches and made a little garden with three tomato and two pepper plants,” he said.

Then Ankersen noticed a small plant with two leaves that sprouted in front of the bench. Instead of pulling it, he thought the plant might produce cucumbers and decided to leave the little plant alone. It became a vine that grew and produced a small, round, green fruit.

Ankersen figured it was a watermelon vine, but then the fruit’s very green exterior developed a rough, net-like covering similar to a cantaloupe. More melons appeared with the same, very green exteriors.

Was the fruit a watermelon?

Or a cantaloupe?

Or a waterlope?

Ankersen jokingly called the fruit that last name, yet the melon mystery remained.

So Ankersen did what any area resident might do — he took three examples of the melons to the office of Nebraska Extension in Dodge County.

There, in the Fremont-based office, Ankersen met Rich Apking, a volunteer, who has undergone Master Gardener training.

Apking noted that the one small round green melon looked like a watermelon.

But the test would come from slicing open the melons. Apking cut the first one which had a yellowish skin with the rough, spidery covering.

It was a muskmelon.

Ankersen got a taste of the melon.

“It is really good,” he said. “Sweet.”

“That’s what home-grown melons taste like — even accidentally homegrown melons,” Apkin said.

Apking noted that melons can cross-pollenate easily — so the melons on Ankersen’s vine could have been something else.

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“People that want to raise pure melons have a real rough time doing it especially if they’re growing two different kinds in close proximity of each other,” Apking said. “They’ll cross-pollenate and you’ll end up with something you don’t necessarily want.

“That’s why if they’re raising watermelons to sell they’re very fussy about the seed that they get, where they plant it and what people put in near where they plant. They like those fields to be surrounded by something like green beans that have nothing to do with melons,” Apking added.

Apking cut open the other two green melons, which were muskmelons, too.

Mystery solved.

Other gardeners with fruit or vegetables of the mysterious kind may bring them to the extension office.

“Or you can open it up yourself,” Apking said. “Make sure it’s a little more ripe than this.”

Ankersen was OK losing a couple of the melons.

He’ll grow more — this time without the mystery.


News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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