By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
On Sept. 30, Gordon Tropf of Champion will turn 90 years of age. He’s a little busy, though, to think ahead that far. He has melons to harvest.
Tropf has been raising produce near his home on the edge of Champion for 25 years.
“I started planting stuff,” he explained. “I didn’t have nothin’ to do.”
Tropf is retired from a number of occupations. He worked construction, drove trucks, owned a filling station and raised registered greyhound dogs for 30 years.
He started out raising onions, and sold a lot of those.
Nowadays he raises cantaloupe, or muskmelons, watermelons, cucumbers, sweet corn, peppers and tomatoes.
“The first rain and wind flattened the tomatoes,” he pointed out. “They didn’t come back and do like they should.”
Tropf said it was a hard year on his garden, which covers part of four and one-half acres. Rain, hail, snow, mud and “the weeds got away from us.”
He’s grown about 200 cantaloupe this year.
“We would have had that many watermelon but it just beat us up. We couldn’t get ‘em,” he said. Despite the bad weather, he managed to raise about 100 watermelon.
Tropf said the way he knows a watermelon is ready to pick is if it’s been growing for 90 days.
“A few extra days wouldn’t hurt,” he added. He doesn’t thump them for that hollow sound.
“If it’s a good year you can just go down the field and start loading,” the gardener said.
Tropf and his wife, Dona, sell the melons and other produce in Imperial and Holyoke, Colo., or people just visit their house. They sold out of melons and onions during the annual Labor Day Auction in Imperial recently.
Tropf uses granular fertilizer, and sprays for grasshoppers, but doesn’t do anything else special in the garden. He uses a tractor for disking and planting onions and sweet corn.
Does gardening keep him young?
“It keeps me busy, I’ll put it that way,” he commented. “If a guy didn’t have it to do he’d go crazy laying in the house.”