The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

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July 10, 2014

Palestine man grows 82-pound watermelon


A whopper.


That's what local resident Alton “Junior” Doucette had on his hands last week, when he discovered the little watermelon seed he planted in March had matured into a full-grown fruit fit for a giant.


We're talking Jack-and-the-beanstalk giant — 82 pounds. Lengthwise, the circumference runs 64 inches around, while its middle measures at 44 inches.


Doucette, 67, said it came as a surprise to him. He said he has managed a couple of 60 pounders in the past, but nothing quite this big.


“This thing is huge,” his daughter Pam Parker told the Herald-Press. “He only planted two (watermelon) plants. But his garden has just gotten bigger and bigger.”


The retired resident said “it's just a hobby” he likes to dabble with, one he has had more time to piddle with since retiring. His 80-by-80 foot garden plot is nestled on the property spread over four acres, and includes everything any Peter Rabbit could ever dream or hope for.


“I grow a garden every year, and I grow a few watermelons,” he said. That — along with tomatoes, corn, squash, cucumbers, okra, peppers, grapes, peaches, plums, blackberries, blueberries, apples and more, such as “mushmelons” (for those who don't know, Doucette said that's a melon similar to a cantaloupe — but sweeter!)


As for the watermelons, he said he did something a little different this year, “because it's been so dry.


“I had to use so much water.”


Doucette put plastic down on the ground and installed a drip system underneath to irrigate the plants.


Typically, he said he spends anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours each day working on his little garden plot.


Originally from Lake Charles, Louisiana, Doucette is no stranger to spending time in the sun. As a boy, he remembers plenty of days working with crops and farming.

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