Winning Hearts and Rinds

Hiroichi Kimura has begun growing some remarkable unusual watermelons in his fields in southern Japan.

His produce have the familiar smooth, green exterior, soft red flesh and neat rows of black seeds, but it is far from conventional ”“ because rather than the usual oblong shape, his grow in a perfect heart shape. (There’s one other important difference: His specialty melons cost $102 a pop.) Here he explains why and how he grew a heart-shaped watermelon and what they taste like.


Why heart-shaped?
I’ve been growing normal watermelons and rice for 30 years. Eight years ago, my neighbor joked it would be big news if I could make heart-shaped watermelons. I realized a heart is a lovely shape for a fruit – so I decided to try it. I spent three years experimenting before I was successful.

What’s key to your success?
They grow in heart-shaped moulds inside a vinyl plant house in carefully controlled conditions – 30 degrees in the day and 12 degrees at night. The rest is a secret.

The hardest part?
Growing them the perfect size – if it’s too big, the shape breaks and tastes bad, if it’s too small, the heart shape doesn’t work.

And the taste?
Unlike many ornamental fruits grown by farmers, you can eat a heart-shaped watermelon ”“ and it tastes just like a normal one.

Photography Courtesy of Hiroichi Kimura.
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