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Local gardener showcases cantaloupe tree

Alleen Zelinger showcases these beautiful cantaloupes growing in her tree at 810 East 9th in Pawhuska. Kathy Swan/J-C Correspondent
Alleen Zelinger showcases these beautiful cantaloupes growing in her tree at 810 East 9th in Pawhuska. Kathy Swan/J-C Correspondent

When Alleen Zelinger called the Journal Capital newsroom earlier this week, she was excited to share her unusual cantaloupe tree with our readers.

A vintage wrought-iron fence provides a sturdy base for the vine garden, along with a cattle panel for added support.

“First time in my life that I’ve seen climbing cantaloupe,” said Zelinger. “No one I’ve talked to seems to know anything about climbing cantaloupe. It will probably never do it again. These are ripe and ready to pick. Best part is I don’t have to bend over to pick them.”

When Alleen Zelinger bought her little house on 9th Street five years ago, there wasn’t a single plant or flower to be found. Prior to the move, Zelinger had spent all of her life living on the family farm near Mount Vernon, Missouri.

“After my moved to Pawhuska, I decided to begin digging up some of my past so my kids could share in it,” she said. “Every time I made a visit to Mount Vernon, I would bring back some of Missouri’s rich black soil and plants. I wanted a sample of all of the plants my folks had enjoyed.”

Zelinger said she recalls digging through waste-high weeds in order to rescue iris, bleeding hearts, lilacs and more.

“Missouri dirt is like potting soil. I built up my garden and flower beds with an 18” base and let it pack down. I brought Missouri with me.”

In addition to assorted flowers, this rich soil has produced an abundance of strawberries, rhubarb, red onion, and asparagus. Zelinger’s garden includes assorted fruit trees, such as pear, peach, cherry, and apple.

“I planted the apple tree upon the advice of the summer YouthWorks group,” said Zelinger. “They named my yard ‘the Garden of Eden’ and said I needed an apple tree to complete it.”

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