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An English garden: Local couple produce giant veggies

Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Yvonne and Bennie English hold some whopper zucchinis in their garden. Yvonne English said she can't wait to see how big the watermelons grow this year.

Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Yvonne and Bennie English hold some whopper zucchinis in their garden. Yvonne English said she can't wait to see how big the watermelons grow this year.

COVINGTON -- It all started with a sweet potato. A 20 pound sweet potato.

Bennie English dug it out of his garden and took it into the house for his wife Yvonne to see.

"I said, 'That potato is the size of a baby,'" she recalled.

That was two years ago. Since then, the English's home garden off Christian Circle has produced 5 and 10 pound zucchinis and cabbages weighing in at 8 pounds "that are as big as your head."

Exactly why these monster veggies are growing at random is a mystery. Most of the English's garden crops are normal-sized, but occasionally, they'll get a jumbo version. They've also got about 30 watermelons popping up every year, although they didn't plant them -- they dropped a few seeds in the ground about 10 years ago but haven't planted any since.

Bennie English is the one with the green thumb.

"I don't know what he's out there doing," his wife said, noting that all they put on the plants are lime, vinegar and Epsom salts to keep bugs away and they spread potpourri to keep deer out.

One theory is that the folks who lived at the house before the Englishes buried their garbage -- the couple has dug up numerous vintage soda bottles -- and that seeds buried there are improving fertility. English also notes that she placed three wooden crosses at the edge of the garden.

"Maybe it's holy ground," she said.

English doesn't let the larger sized vegetables go to waste. She made coleslaw out of the cabbages, gave away some zucchini and plans to cook the rest, and chopped the giant sweet potato up and baked it with raisins. The size of the vegetables doesn't diminish the flavor.

"You can taste the garden in them," she said.