Greg and Julie Dvornicky of Broadview Heights, Ohio, know that great gardens start with great soil and great plants. Each year they add lots of grass clippings, leaves and leaf mulch to their garden. They also compost 15 to 20 loads of wood chips that get dropped off in their yard by a local arborist. Being a fisherman, Greg has access to a very special organic soil builder. He saves the entrails from cleaning fish and buries them in the garden each fall. A special map details where he has buried the fish and which crops he grows there each year. All this organic matter has transformed their clay soil into a rich, humusy soil that produces tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes, watermelons and many other vegetables, as well as an abundance of flowers.
Greg and Julie have been gardening at their current home for the past seven years. The 3-acre yard has a 30 x 60-foot fenced vegetable garden. The 8 x 70-foot fenced fruit patch includes blueberries and strawberries that they use to make jams and jellies to sell at the farmer's market. "Deer are a big problem in Ohio and I've found the best solution is a 6-foot-tall fence," says Greg. At first they tried to garden without a fence, using repellent sprays, but they quickly learned the deer will eat almost anything. With a fence, they know they can enjoy the harvest themselves and not be competing with wildlife.
While great soil is an important part of a healthy garden, it's equally important to start with healthy seedlings. Greg starts most of his own vegetables and flowers, and he has found the APS seedstarter is the best way to get his plants off to a great start. "I have 15 APS in my basement growing under a light system I devised," says Greg. "I start more than 2,000 seedlings each year including many small-seeded annual flowers, such as violas, salvias and petunias," he says. "The APS gives me 99.8% germination rate on all my seedlings. It's very efficient, which helps because I only have a small space to start seedlings," he says. His APS seedstarters have lasted six seasons already without any problems. "The APS is awesome and a great bargain," he says. "It's easy to use and I save several hundred dollars each year by starting all my own seeds."
Though Greg loves the APS seedstarter, he particular appreciates the Germinating Mix. "One year I tried to save money buying a local seedstarting mix," says Greg. "Within three days, I had fungus gnats and fungal growth in the soil," he says. Julie told him to spend the extra money and purchase the mix from Gardener's Supply. "It's worth it," he says. "The Germinating Mix is just the right consistency. It holds the right amount of water so seeds germinate without rotting, yet is light enough so the soil doesn't crust up," says Greg.
Greg saves seeds from many of his favorite vegetables, so having a good seedstarting system is critical to keeping those varieties going each year. One of his favorite heirlooms is a 100-year-old Roma tomato variety from Sicily that has been passed down in his friend's family for generations. The Roma tomato fruits are the size of beer cans. "From eight plants, we canned 72 quarts of tomatoes last year," he says.
Because their regular jobs keep Greg and Julie indoors all day, they can't wait to get home and work in the garden. It's a labor of love and their success has been recognized with several national gardening awards. For these industrious gardeners, the more time they can spend outdoors, the better!
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