If you’re growing melons specifically for a cocktail garden, it really make sense to look for small-fruited varieties. Better to have a steady supply of small melons on hand than two or three jumbo fruits that took all season to ripen. There’s a beautiful heirloom watermelon called ‘Small Shining Light’ that tolerates short, cool growing seasons and produces 10-inch fruit. ‘Sugar Baby’ is another small, icebox-style watermelon you might try. I also like ‘Minnesota Midget,’ a miniature cantaloupe bred to tolerate short seasons.
No matter what variety you grow, remember to give them at least 4 to 5 feet of growing room in every direction, and to plant them on top of a mound of rich soil amended with plenty of compost. I love melons in tequila and rum drinks, but I’m sure you’ll find a use for them in vodka and gin drinks as well. Melon infused vodka is a wonderful thing, but the flavors don’t stay stable for long, so mix up a small batch that you can use within a month or so.