Seeds for Everyman Gardener Mike Podlesny
Windsor, N.J. - There's nothing Michael Podlesny (A.S. Mathematics
'96) likes better than watching his garden grow - and sharing
his extensive gardening knowledge with others. Gardening is
in Podlesny's blood - three generations' worth. "I have
been vegetable gardening since I was a kid," he says.
"My dad was a huge vegetable gardener, as was my grandfather.
So the skill set was passed along to me through the years."
when it came time for college, the Burlington County resident
decided to study computer science and math as a career path
and to start his studies at Mercer, where he could get a quality
education that was convenient and affordable. He notes that
Mercer's flexible scheduling allowed him to fit college into
his busy life, which included working full time while going
to school full time. He continued his education at Glassboro
State University (now Rowan) before landing a job with a software
engineering job in Princeton.
These days, Podlesny has returned to his gardening roots as
owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises. He has also put all
his thoughts, ideas, tips and tricks into a book entitled
"Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A guide
to vegetable gardening for the rest of us," published
in 2009 by Lulu Publishing (available on Amazon.com). According
to one satisfied reader, "He explains everything in such
a way that someone who has never planted a seed before can
become a confident gardener by the end of their first growing
season. He goes into such detail about composting in easy-to-understand
terms that takes away the intimidation factor." During
the past year the book was ranked in the top 100 for books
on vegetable gardening.
to Podlesny's business is a comprehensive and attractive website,
where he literally grows a community (www.averagepersongardening.com).
The site features podcasts, a Seeds of the Month Club, tutorials,
information on the gardening industry, essential products and more.
A number of writers now contribute content to the site.
the academic and professional skills he brought to creating his
website, Podlesny says, "My experience in software development
allowed me to handle the writing of all of the code necessary to
make the website operational and interactive."
is using social media as well. His Facebook page is Facebook's largest
for vegetable gardening and he has more than 600 followers on Twitter.
Approximately 9,000 people subscribe to his podcasts, which now
number 44 episodes on topics ranging from beneficial insects and
tomato basics to inexpensive composting.
a recent message on his website he encouraged gardeners not to give
up, despite this summer's record heat. "Now is the perfect
time to start planning the vegetable garden for those cooler months
in the autumn and early winter," he advises. Among recommended
fall crops are radishes, lettuce and spinach. Many herbs are also
tolerant to cooler temperatures. Potatoes and garlic can be planted
in the autumn and harvested early in the spring.
says the seeds for own his evolution can be traced in part to Mercer.
"I loved every minute of my time at MCCC. I received a great
education that prepared me for the working world."
enjoyed his classes, especially with Biology Professor Bruce Chorba.
"He challenged me to challenge myself and find the answer."
Also memorable for Podlesny was the camaraderie among students,
who both pushed and supported each other.
back, he sees a progression that makes sense. "Each step along
the way helped me learn something new that would better my life
and prepare me for the future. All of that would not be possible
if I had not started at Mercer."
five-year plan is pretty flexible. "Where will the business
go from here?" he ponders. "Hopefully it will be more
continuing success and expansion of what I sell, but for now, it's
just seeds and information, and that seems to be working great!"
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