SONNY LEONARD’S DELECTIBLE DIVERSION
Sonny Leonard is used to making a big impact.
However, recently the veteran engine builder, who builds powerplants in excess of 1,000 cubic inches, stepped out of his field of expertise for another. This field reeks of compost, manure and provides a mosquito bite here and there.
And just like his race engines, he's visiting the winner's circle.
Leonard, at 74, has found another challenge outside of his popular Lynchburg, Va-based Sonny's Race Engines horsepower emporium.
Leonard won first place in the Bedford, Va., County Fair for delivering the largest watermelon, which tipped the scales at 103 pounds.
"This is the third year that I’ve entered a watermelon at the county fair," Leonard explained. "I enjoy that because it’s just not very hectic like racing engines. You know, if you’re off one or two thousandths, it really doesn’t matter. I’ve been affiliated with old farmers; I really enjoy doing that. I enjoy doing it every year."
Leonard entered the not-so-tough-and-rumble world of watermelon gardening about six years ago.
Yes, Leonard was 68 years old when he took up a new hobby. He's got goals already.
"I want to get one up, my goal would be 200," Leonard added.
Right now, Leonard is basking in the glow of outperforming the more experienced gardeners. He's even found a few that he's willing to share performance secrets with.
"One old lady, I want to talk to her in the next month or two. I’m going to tell her what to do to get larger watermelons," Leonard admitted. "It would make me happy, and it would make her happy."
Watermelons and engines are worlds apart.
"I don’t mind telling anybody really," Leonard said. "If you are going to do this, start the preparation in October or November by churning your soil ingredients together."
In case you're wondering those ingredients include copious amounts of cow manure, compost and if you're in Virginia, sandbox-quality sand to hold more water than the usual clay-based dirt and Epsom salts. Oh and don't forget the liquid fish fertilizer.
Leonard then mixes his concoction with a gallon of water and pours around the roots of the watermelon.
"When you do that, the coloration of the leaves will turn greener in three days," Leonard explained. "They love magnesium; they like a lot of the things that people wouldn’t think they’d like. I just tell you that the Epsom salts are really good."
"When it’s ripe, it has a really good texture, the coloration is red, and they taste very, very sweet,"
Leonard wonders why he waited so long to take up this pathway.
"I just enjoy doing this," Leonard said. "I think it’s just a stress reliever for me. If you haven’t been to a county fair, anybody, you should do that because it’s just a good relaxation area environment."