Melons delicious despite difficulties

Published 8:31 am Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Rotary Club of Bogalusa members were recently treated to a local delicacy, and one a bit more rare these days than in years past — namely watermelons grown by John Gallaspy.

Gallaspy was joined this year, as he has been in past years, by Mickey Murphy, who introduced the program, in part, by saying, “After peeking over the fence to what John’s been doing all these years, he finally let me in.”

Also participating in the program was John Gallaspy’s son, Whit Gallaspy, who has brought his scientific curiosity to the art of growing watermelons, as well as Whit’s daughter, Marianna Gallaspy.

Whit Gallaspy examined samples of different types of melons grown in different soils to determine exactly what — scientifically speaking — makes a good melon. His hope in doing so was to figure out which minerals and elements in the soil led to the best crops.

He said he has been experimenting with a seaweed extract on a small corner of Murphy’s patch in an effort to replicate as closely as possible the conditions of coastal areas that grow watermelons.

“My dream would be to have a long harvest,” he said, noting that the growing season in certain coastal areas is far longer than it is in Washington Parish.

According to Whit Gallaspy, his findings may have applications that go beyond producing the best tasting melons for the longest possible period, however.

“Dad and I have pondered for years why diabetic patients can eat yellow flesh melons,” he said.

He said he believes it may have something to do with that particular variety’s higher levels of cesium.

While the experiments will continue, the literal fruits of their collective labor was sampled by those present, showing that despite the challenges of the past couple of growing seasons, hard work can indeed be sweet.