IN THE YARD: Watermelons

Retired rural mail carrier E.J. Maggio, who’s been gardening for more than 50 years, tried his hand at growing watermelons for the first time about six years ago.

He credits the soil for the size and taste of these watermelons grown in his garden in Paincourtville in Assumption Parish.

“They taste about like the ones from Washington Parish,” he said. Washington Parish watermelons are renowned for their sweetness.

“They got this big,” Maggio said, “because they were too big for me to carry. I couldn’t see them for the vines.”

He’ll harvest about 35 watermelons, Maggio said. “I think I’d have had more if it hadn’t been for the drought.”

Maggio fertilized his watermelons with Miracle-Gro. The big watermelons in the photo weighed 77 pounds and 68 pounds. What Maggio calls the “average size” watermelon weighed 35 pounds.

Maggio sent one watermelon to his son in Destin, Fla., for the Fourth of July. He was taking another watermelon to his daughter in New Orleans.