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Elderly Somerset Court resident still an avid gardener
Sep 03

Minot Daily News

MINOT, N.D. (AP) _ Her skin is tan from many hours outdoors. On this day her hands bore green stains, proof of her love of gardening. In front of her, neatly placed in suitable containers, were beautiful red tomatoes and dark green cucumbers.

She is Sharon Grondahl, 80, a resident of Somerset Court in Minot and an avid gardener.

``I got married when I was 19 years old and I had a garden planted before the wedding,'' Grondahl laughed. ``I've had one every year since.''

Grondahl was born in a farmhouse near the small community of Bantry. She went to grade school there and then to nearby Upham for high school. She married a farmer, which only furthered her interest in watching plants grow. It was natural that she continued her passion for gardening after moving to Sommerset.

``Since I've been here, eight years now, I've always had something planted,'' said Grondahl while sitting on a bench near the garden on a warm, sunny morning. ``I like to watch plants grow and come up. Sometimes I'll come out here twice in a day just looking to see if there's anything more since the last time I was out here.''

The gardening season is winding down and the plants are not nearly as showy as they were earlier in the growing season. Grondahl said the garden was ``really pretty'' while the plants were in their production stage. Still, surrounded by colorful blooms of various flowers, the garden remains an enjoyable place for Grondahl, the Minot Daily News reported.

``I guess I like the solitude to come out in the evenings when its cooler. It's just relaxing for me,'' explained Grondahl. ``I'm not a big TV fan. I like being outside. I guess that's the farmer in me.''

The lessons Grondahl learned through years of gardening was evident in the quality of the plants and the excellent harvest. She has been picking tomatoes that would be the envy of any gardener and has plans to utilize them as well.

``I've got five kids, so I can a lot of tomatoes and make salsa for them. What we don't use I take to the food pantry. Most of the people there are really grateful, especially for the fresh produce,'' Grondahl said.

Vegetables grown at the Somerset Garden include radishes, spinach, beets, carrots, peas, beans, squash and a few cabbage plants. All are at various stages of harvest.

``Any of the residents here who want to plant something can,'' Grondahl said.

When asked about the secret of growing good tomatoes Grondahl hesitated for a moment, then said, ``If you take care of calcium in the soil you don't have that dry rot. They say watering has something to do with it too.''

Grondahl takes special care of her tomato plants, starting them in her courtside room at Somerset long before taking them outside for transplanting.

``It gets to be wall to wall tomatoes,'' Grondahl said.

Grondahl has no plans to retire from gardening anytime soon. Far from it. While glancing at a perfectly manicured section of the flower garden cared for by another resident, Grondahl said, ``She's 90-some years old and still planting flowers every year and takes care of them. I think I've still got a little ways to go!''

All too soon the winter winds will blow. Daytime temperatures will drop below the freezing mark and winter snows will cover the garden. Grondahl will be making plans for next year's planting and turning to one of her indoor activities.

``I make mittens out of old sweaters,'' Grondahl said. ``Every year I say I'm going to quit and every year I do it.''

Undoubtedly some of those mittens will be bright red, reminders of one of her favorite flowers _ red geraniums.


Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com

By The Associated Press, Copyright 2019