By Christine Bryant
Garden planting time is just around the corner, and Shepherd’s Corner has you covered.
The farm and ecology center in Blacklick is hosting its annual fundraising plant sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 13 at the center, located at 987 N. Waggoner Road.
The sale includes starter plants such as heirloom tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers and other garden favorites, said Leslie Markworth, who serves as the farmer for the property. Other items, such as maple syrup, bee smooth hand cream and other homemade products will be for sale.
“We will be offering both heirloom and hybrid tomato starts,” she said. “Heirloom tomato varieties include beefsteak, Cherokee purple, brandywine, green zebra, San Marzano, Abe Lincoln and more.”
This year, Shepherd’s Corner also will offer more cherry tomato plants, including red bush cherry, sungold, Livingston’s grape and yellow pear.
“In addition to the tomato plants, we will have a nice selection of both sweet and hot peppers,” she said. “A common practice of gardeners who love red peppers is to let the first sizeable green pepper go until red.”
This cuts down on the overall production of peppers on the plant, she says.
“At the end of the summer, green peppers change to their ripe colors much faster, so in the meantime, the gardener has missed out on a bounty of green peppers,” Markworth said. “In order to satisfy the quest for colorful peppers, I grow several varieties that ripen faster.”
This year’s plants will include red mercury, golden bell and coral belle pepper starts for earlier red, yellow and orange peppers.
“Of course we’ll have California Wonder green bell peppers, too, and for those that wait, there will be red peppers come the end of summer on those plants, too,” she said.
For those who love hot peppers, Shepherd’s Corner will have a mix of heat, from habanero to cayenne, serrano, hot wax, jalapeno and Anaheim.
In all, there will be about 300 pepper plants and 500 tomato plants available to the public – all started on the Shepherd’s Corner property.
“We start all of the plants in our greenhouse in certified organic pro-mix potting soil,” Markworth said. “The starts are raised chemical free.”
Markworth times the seeding in the greenhouse so that by the plant sale, they are not overly root bound, which can cause significant transplant shock.
“Bigger is not always better,” she said.
Funds from the plant sale will support the gardens, education programs, animal care and land conservation, Markworth said.
Shepherd’s Corner is an ecological ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. The 160-acre natural oasis serves as a farm and center for ecology, spirituality and education.
The non-profit’s strategic plan focuses on three areas – environmental education, reflection on care of creation and providing healthy, naturally grown produce.
The property includes naturally grown gardens, chickens, sheep, a llama, a turf labyrinth, greenhouses and meditation trails. Shepherd’s Corner hosts several programs throughout the year for adults and students.