Name: Dimitrios Mitsopoulos, retired owner of Jim's Pizza Paddle, living in Sylvania.
Garden specs: Along the back fence that straddles a church parking lot, and a couple of fruit trees on the side of the house. I cut down many trees on my lot to allow for more sunshine.
When did you start gardening? My father was a farmer in a mountainous part of Corinthia, Greece, growing grapes, wheat, olives, and oranges. After I arrived in Toronto and then Toledo, I've always gardened, acquiring more and more knowledge.
What do you grow? With my wife, Athena, a large variety of flowers, vegetables, three kinds of tomatoes, herbs, as well as plums, pears, cherries, apples, apricots, and two types of grapes. The squirrels love the fruit. Some things are in pots that I bring in for the winter: a small fig tree, a lemon tree, and a bay laurel. Sunflowers, carnations, a little corn, spearmint. Beans grow up string around the veranda to the top, making it more private, and blue concord grapes cover the top framework. I've also started some white seedless grapes. In the late fall, I cover a few dahlias with 12 inches of leaves and a tarp and they come back the next spring.
Favorite plant: Basil: I can find 1,000 different uses and recipes for it. I sprinkle basil seeds into pots holding other plants, such as the fig tree, then transplant them. The bell flower is one of my favorite flowers.
Give us a gardening tip: Bring them life. Take care of them daily; nurture them as if they were young children who need to be cleaned like weeding them, replenishing them with water, and feeding them Miracle-Gro. Sometimes I talk to them. I tie tomato plants three times during the season and remove the lower branches.
Hours spent gardening per week: About two hours a day in the morning and late in the day. When I was working, I'd wake up early and split the nurturing time between early morning and evening.
Annual expense: The highest expense is water, about $200 a month; I made two rain barrels and that helps offset cost.
Challenges (or the down side): My hardest time is when I have to cultivate the soil and rotate the landscape, only because I'm getting older and my arthritis is more pronounced at certain times. I till and cover the gardens with chipped leaves in October-November.
I'm proud of: The ambiance of a healthy, peaceful garden I have been able to create. Also, for the grapevine that cascades atop our veranda where we eat dinner. It brings back many joyful memories of our birthplace, Greece, for our family, friends, and is a new experience for our guests. I also graft branches of fruit trees, such as one type of pear onto the trunks of other pears, using mud packs.
What I get out of gardening: "Perovoli" is the Greek word for garden: It means to me and should feel to most, a peaceful paradise.