Young gardener: ‘They just shot right out of the ground’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 14, 2002

Messenger Intern

The curiosity of a 7-year-old Pike County boy, Chris Wilson, resulted in a harvest of lush watermelons, some weighing as much as 40 pounds.

One afternoon, during the last days of May, Wilson was helping his grandparents, Levy and Marie Wilson, in their tomato and okra garden and began to inquire about how vegetables grew.

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He was particularly interested in watermelons and what labor was necessary to grow the fruit.

"Chris remembered seeing some Alabama sweet watermelon seeds in our refrigerator," said his grandmother. "We were happy to see his interest in growing watermelon and were glad to teach him how it is done."

Wilson decided to experiment with this summer fruit under the supervision of his grandparents.

At the end of their tomato garden, he spread horse fertilizer and "Triple 13" where he planned to plant his seeds. He then planted three watermelon seeds in each of three hills.

In the weeks that followed, Wilson was attentive to his crops, watering the watermelon hills every day and fertilizing them once a month.

"It wasn’t very hard to care for my watermelons," Wilson said. "I just had to remember to water them so the sun wouldn’t dry them out. After a little while they just shot right out of the ground."

On July 4, the Wilson family was pleasantly surprised when the youngster pulled up two watermelons, one weighing 30 pounds and the other weighing 40 pounds.

The family enjoyed Wilson’s 30-pound watermelon with their Fourth of July feast, but decided to save the bigger one for another day.

"The watermelon that we ate on the Fourth of July was so good," recalls Wilson.

"It was really sweet."

Wilson’s watermelon crop did not stop with those two melons. There are still three more watermelons, almost ripe, in his grandparent’s garden. Marie Wilson speculates that these watermelons will weigh as much as the two that were pulled on July 4. "The watermelons that are in the garden now at just about ready to pull," Wilson said.

"One of them is so big that it is falling over into the flower garden."