"The greater the work the more
important it is to establish it on
a solid foundation. Thus it will
not only be more perfect; it
will also be more lasting.”

St. Louise de Marillac

Sharing the Bounty

By S. Georgia Kitt

“If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden.” Robert Breault 

The above quote seems to hold true for those gardening at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse this year.

S. Patrick Ann O’Connor’s interest in gardening was first sparked by her mother at a young age. It was World War II, supplies were hard to come by and families became very resourceful; taking advantage of a neighboring field, the O’Connor family began growing, harvesting and canning their own vegetables. Later, as a Sister of Charity, S. Jeanne D’arc Evans passed on her tried and true farmer’s wisdom which S. Patrick Ann still puts to use today. A love of being outside in nature, early experiences tilling the soil, and an appreciation for the varying seasons have all come together for this veteran gardener.

This year the cold, damp, wet spring has set her garden back a bit; each year is unique. Everything is coming later. S. Patrick Ann is trying and enjoying growing broccoli for the first time. It will be a keeper! She has had no tomatoes ripen by the usual July 4, but holds out hope for several turning red by early August. The early morning coolness is her favorite time to work as she welcomes the new day outside. S. Patrick Ann has gardened in various areas on and near the Motherhouse grounds. She partnered with S. Paula Gonzalez behind La Casa del Sol early on; currently her space is just outside the raised bed enclosed area where the old water tower stood. Water access and tool storage are readily accessible.

As her garden bounty becomes available S. Patrick Ann is sharing her produce with the Motherhouse campus employees (placing them on a table just inside the entrance to Mother Margaret Hall) and with those at the Good Samaritan Free Health Center; her friends benefit as well. So far cucumbers have been in abundance. Fall planting of red beets and sugar snap peas will come soon.

S. Patrick Ann’s advice to anyone considering starting a garden:

  • Find a plot with very direct sunlight. 
  • Read/review gardening tips online, choose four to five vegetables to start and then ‘just jump in.’ 
  • Plan to add some healthy top soil after working the clay mixed soil we have in the Cincinnati area.
  • Be patient as the plants grow; they need time. 
  • Appreciate real rain versus a hose and try to stay ahead of the weeds. They grow the fastest!

“The joy of growing your own vegetables just makes everything taste better,” she says. “The aroma and taste of a pot of chili in January, featuring your own homegrown tomatoes and peppers, is an added reward for the spring days of tilling and summer days of harvest.”

S. Patrick Ann would agree that both the wisdom and experience of the garden hold true in this quote from May Sarton and add so much to one’s life: “Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.”

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