Gardening youth grows 75-pound watermelon in Mt. Pleasant
By A.J. Panian
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:01 p.m.
There was a time long ago when the late Waddy Grippo grew a four-pound tomato in his backyard garden in Central which was photographed and featured in the Mt. Pleasant Journal.
Today, Grippo's great-grandson, 13-year-old Cole Feltes of Mt. Pleasant, is continuing his legacy of planting and gardening prowess.
Much like that borne by his ancestor, one of Cole's harvests has gotten the paper's attention, as well.
From a single, tiny seed, Feltes spent much of this past summer undertaking the oftentimes painstaking of process of overseeing the growth of a watermelon in the backyard garden of his parents, Tom and Marcy Feltes.
When it came time to harvest it, the piece of fruit weighed in at a gargantuan 75 pounds.
“It's the biggest one that I've grown,” Feltes said. “I thought it looked like it would be a big one, but I didn't know it would be no 75 pounds.”
With help from his father, Cole lifted the monstrosity onto a scale to record the weight while his 16-year-old sister, Haley Feltes, snapped photographs of the boy near the beastly issue of fruit.
“It was kind of exciting; I can't wait ‘til it's all over Mt. Pleasant,” said Cole of news of the melon.
After picking the melon, most of Cole's family, as well as friends stopped by to sample it. No one had as much of it as its grower did.
“I was the one who ate the most of it,” Cole said. “A lot of other people ate some, too. But there was so much we couldn't eat it all. We were all watermeloned out.”
Cole said he first got into gardening as a young child with the guidance of his great uncle, Eugene Grippo of Tarrs, and his maternal grandfather, the late George Grippo.
“They always gardened from when they were my age,” Cole said. “I thought that was really interesting.”
Hence forth, Cole has soaked in as much gardening knowledge at his age as possible, Gene Grippo said.
“When Cole would come out here, he would always rip into my garden and ask me ‘How'd you do this, how'd you do that, Uncle Gene?',” Grippo said. “I'm very glad he got interested in that. He questions me a lot.”
It was Grippo who gave Cole the seed which grew into the giant watermelon.
“I took seeds out of some watermelons and he planted them,” Grippo said.
“I'm interested in anyone that wants to take up gardening, maybe they'll take my place some day.”
Cole started out by growing tomatos and peppers. Last year and now this year, he has turned to watermelons and, with Halloween fast approaching, the lad is out to grow some pretty big pumpkins.
“The types of (pumpkin) seeds I have, they said ‘big.' I planted them. They're not large, maybe two times the size of a pie pumpkin,” said Cole of his early pumpkin harvest.
With the help of his cousin, Dominic Cavicchio, 12, Cole plans to bake pumpkin seeds later this moth.
“Doing that is just something I kind of started doing about 2 1/2 years ago,” Cole said. “I brought out the pan, seasoned them up and put them in the oven. This will be my second Halloween doing that.”
Tom Feltes said he is proud of his son's skill in gardening — something he refers to as somewhat of “a lost art.”
“It's time-consuming, and it is work, but it can save a lot of money,” Tom Feltes said.
And, as far as that four-pound tomato grown by the late Waddy Grippo, it's own seeds are still bearing new fruit.
“Jack Caruso gave me the seeds from grandpap from the four-pound tomato, and he gave me a tomato from them that was six to eight inches in diameter,” Tom Feltes said. “I have those seeds in jar ... Grandpap's seeds.”
A.J. Panian is a staff editor with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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