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franklin county times

Local gardeners getting big results

 

Jerry Stancil, of Mount Hebron, has been working all summer to grow this 12-feet tall tomato vine. Stancil gets up early each morning to water the vine before he leaves for work. | Nathan Strickland/FCT

 

A Franklin County man and a Marion County man have found comfort in their garden-growing abilities and have now produced two of the county’s most admired fruit and veggie masterpieces.

Clinton W. Newell of Bear Creek said one day he was walking through his cantaloupe patch and found a monster living there.

That monster just so happened to be a 34-pound fruit full of gooey goodness.

Newell has been growing cantaloupes for about 11 years and has never come across anything like the monster fruit which measured 52-inches around.

“I grow them (cantaloupes) every year,” Newell said. “But they have never gotten this big.”

Newell said someone told him he should put it in one of the upcoming fairs, but he said he doesn’t believe it will last that long.

Newell said he plans on giving the giant melon away for one of the local nursing homes to enjoy.

It just so happens that one of Newell’s acquaintances also has an outstanding feat growing in his back yard.

Jerry Stancil of the Mt. Hebron community purposely planted a tomato vine in late April, which has reached a height of 12 feet.

Stancil said he started out by digging a 3-foot hole, planting the seeds and filling the hole with hay, horse manure and watering it every single day.

Clinton Newell has grown a 34-pound cantaloupe in his Bear Creek garden. | Nathan Strickland/FCT

 

“I told my wife when it reaches 14 feet I’m going to quit,” Stancil said. “But for now I will continue to get up, climb my 10-foot ladder I have set up beside it at 5 a.m. and water it before leaving for work.”

The vine has grown so high that the Stancils have caged it and tied a rope from the top of the vine to a post located on their home so that the wind wouldn’t tip it over and destroy it.

Stancil’s wife, Sandra, said it has become pretty much a routine for her husband to get up and water the vine before heading to work.

Sandra said at one point in time the towering vine had 60 tomatoes hanging from it and as of now she has canned 19 jars, saving them for stews, chili and soups she makes in the winter time.

Stancil said this one vine has been so good this year, he has already dug another hole a few feet south in his backyard, attempting to do it again next year.

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