Name: Carol and Will Hipsher, both retired from Whirlpool (she, an inspector and assembler/he in quality control; he’s also retired from operating a Lake Erie fishing-charter boat), living in “Scutch” (the local nickname for McCutchenville, Ohio).
Garden specs: Give or take 1 to 1½ acres in garden and orchard. The house sits on two of our 85 acres; we rent out the rest for soybeans, corn, and winter wheat. Will built a greenhouse on part of an old chicken house where he starts all his plants from seed in February.
When did you start gardening? In 1990 when we moved here from Findlay, to Will’s boyhood home.
What do you grow? Will grows food: 26 apple trees, 3 English walnut trees, tomatoes (our favorites are Boxcar Willy and Oxheart), cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, lima and green beans, onions, carrots, beets, and musk melon. We don’t grow sweet corn because the raccoons eat it. Carol grows hundreds of flowers, and has about 70 butterfly bushes (lavender, purple, pink, white).
We planted hundreds of arborvitae and blue spruce, with a neighbor to create a windbreak, and we maintain it. Everybody’s tearing out their windbreaks to create more farmland but you need them to keep the soil from blowing away.
Favorite plant: Coffee Cup plant, King Tut papyrus, and dahlias that I winter over in a box full of perlite.
Give us a gardening tip: Save seeds. I save seeds from hyacinth bean vine and an heirloom cockscomb. Also, I’ve trained smoke bush into a fan shape by pruning it, and also fanned out small Rose of Sharon trees to cover a chain-link fence around the dog kennel.
Hours spent gardening: Four to six hours a day for each of us.
Annual expense: $70 for Will’s seeds and soil; about $150 for Carol’s flowers.
Challenges:We are getting older than weeds and bugs.
I'm proud of starting with an empty slate and ending up with a Rembrandt. And through a variety of our efforts, we received certification as a backyard wildlife site from the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Also, I make leaf castings out of large-leafed plants as a hobby, and give them as gifts; it’s amazing what you can create!
What I’ve learned gardening: We have made great friends by passing our flowers and food around. I love to take flowers to church then give them to the ladies to take home to enjoy. We freeze a lot to eat through the winter, and there’s nothing better than a big pot of vegetable soup with all Will’s veggies in it.