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Winning vegetable garden is a family effort

(West Life photo by Kevin Kelley)
Tomatoes are the prized produce growing in the Tidwell vegetable garden.

By KEVIN KELLEY
WESTLAKE

Greg Tidwell learned how to garden from his father and grandfather while growing up in Fairview Park. Now he’s teaching his two young sons  his secrets.

Greg, his wife, Evy, and their boys, Conner and Bryce, won first place in the vegetable garden category in the 2017 Westlake in Bloom contest. Awards for the annual gardening contest were announced at an Aug. 9 ceremony at La Centre Conference and Banquet Facility.

The Tidwells have entered the contest six previous years, all in the vegetable garden category. They’ve won awards five of those years. Conner and Bryce enjoy having their photos taken with Mayor Dennis Clough at the awards ceremonies, their parents said.

(West Life photo by Kevin Kelley)
The vegetable garden is a family project for the Tidwells – Evy, Greg, Conner and Bryce.

Tomatoes are the prized produce growing in the Tidwell vegetable garden, a fenced-off 20-by-40-foot area located at the end of their long Hall Drive backyard. The fences keep the deer out, Greg said, but this year groundhogs climbed the fence and ate two rows of broccoli and cabbage.

The garden also includes eggplants, potatoes, peppers, basil and peach trees. The Tidwells also planted a couple rows of flowers for aesthetics. The plants were purchased at garden centers and did not come from seeds, Greg said.

There’s nothing special about the soil in the garden; it was just the soil that was there when the family moved to Westlake nine years ago.

Greg, a carpenter, uses organic fertilizer – chicken manure that he buys at garden centers and horse manure that he obtained from a client who owns a horse stable.

Pulverized lime, which can purchased from a garden center, helps keep the exterior of tomatoes from rotting, he said.

Spreading grass clippings between the rows of plants helps keep weeds out, Greg said.

Greg’s most important advice: “Weed every day.”

“Greg puts in a lot of work at it,” Evy, an accountant, said of her husband. Their sons help with the weeding, she added.

The Tidwells do not belong to garden clubs. Greg said he mainly relies on what he learned from his father and grandfather. He said he patronizes all of the Westlake garden centers, as well as Hawks Greenhouse in Elyria.

Greg advises would-be gardeners not to be afraid of failure.

“You just got to give it a try,” he said.

This year, the city-sponsored contest received 54 residential entries, along with 12 entries from businesses and organizations, in 16 categories. First-place winners received a gift certificate for an area garden center.

 

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