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The resident plant lady and her green wares

March 19, 2012
by Kathleen Mears
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One morning during the late winter of 2010, I noticed in the rear dining room many dirt-filled plastic cups lining the windowsills and the unused countertop. When I asked staff about the cups, I was told another resident, Melinda (pseudonym), was starting seeds as she has done each spring.

As spring approached, the back dining room grew warm and Melinda's plants sprouted soon enough. She planted tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers as well as marigolds and some other flowers.

I noticed periodically the plants had been tended and rotated. Sometimes residents knocked them on the floor or spilled them. But Melinda always righted them and put them back in their places.

By May, her vegetable seedlings were big enough for planting. Several staff bought the plants because they grow incredibly well and they cannot beat Melinda’s prices—less than $.50 a plant.

I know Melinda feels a sense of accomplishment taking care of her plants and watching them grow. She’ll even baby some in her room before putting them in the back dining room to catch the sunlight.

Melinda acquires plastic cups by saving those filled with water for her daily medications. This year she even saved an applesauce cup as a planting vessel.

I hope Melinda's plants grow as well as they did last year.

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Kathleen Mears

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Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...