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Local gardener grows big surprise
Turlocker Chester Chimel shows off two Asian cucumbers he grew in his garden. - photo by Photo Contributed

Chester Chimel might be 84 years old, but he can grow cucumbers as well as any young gardener. Chimel’s Asian cucumber plant recently yielded several vegetables over 2 feet in length. The largest of the cucumbers was 26 inches long.

Chimel grew Japanese cucumbers several years ago and he and his wife Betty have been searching for the plant ever since. 

“This year low and behold we found a plant at Walmart, of all places. It was labeled ‘Asian cucumber,” Chester Chimel said.

The photo on the seed packet showed a pickle sized plant that grew on a trellis. Chimel said he enjoys gardening but with his knee problems he can’t get down and dig in the dirt.

“I can’t bend or kneel anymore. But I enjoy it, I like getting out there,” he said.

The Asian cucumber and tomato plants in Chimel’s garden both grow several feet off of the ground, the perfect height for someone who can’t kneel. Betty and Chester bought the Asian cucumber plant and hoped it turned out as well as their Japanese cucumbers had a few years ago. The plants did much better than either of them expected, and they ended up with vegetables almost the length of Chester’s leg.

“I said ‘no way did they have the right size information on the tags,’” Chester said.

Chester said that he is formerly from Chicago and has been in Turlock for 23 years. He said he has been gardening for a long time, but the growing season in Chicago was much shorter.

“This is phenomenal weather here. This area was blessed with a very long growing season,” Chester said.

The Chimels’ garden is small, only about 5 feet by 15 feet, but that suits them just fine.

“With my limitation, it’s big enough for just the two of us,” Chester said.

Chester and Betty share what they grow with friends and neighbors. Along with the giant Asian cucumbers, they grow tomatoes and pepper plants. They distribute what they can’t eat, but the 26-inch cucumber was a keeper.

“And it’s all gone now,” Chester said.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.