Granite State confined at home find freedom and calm in the garden – The Union Leader

For gardeners like Karin Hamilton, the states stay-home orders have meant more time working their plots.

Hamilton has been casually cultivating little gardens in her yard in Dover for two years, but in this spring of pandemic, working from home and economic slowdown has allowed Hamilton to focus on her garden.

Lockdown started mid-March, and thats really too early to start, but I was itching to get going, Hamilton said.

She started seeds under grow lights in her garage, put up a cold frame and built a small greenhouse. With help from online communities and a lot of YouTube videos, shes learning about potatoes and strawberry towers, and thinking about how she can grow more food for herself and her 84-year-old father.

I dont want to be reliant on supermarkets for food that is so easy to grow she said.

Karin Hamilton moves a tomato planting in her greenhouse in Dover last Sunday. The greenhouse is a new addition for Hamilton, a longtime casual gardener who has dug into the hobby this year.

There has been a certain amount of trial-and-error involved, Hamilton said with a laugh.

I lost a bunch of stuff, I gave a bunch of stuff away, and I kept replanting.

Growing food, and the simple act of caring for beds, has been soothing, she said.

If you open up to it, youre able to get from it what you need to calm yourself, Hamilton said. Music is an island for some people. For me, its gardening. If Im anxious, I go out in the garden (and) it all goes away.

Larry Stout, from Manchester, puts bags of topsoil in his cart at Demers Garden Center in Manchester on Wednesday.

More people are seeking that oasis.

Goffstown gardener Jane Turcotte said her friends and family people who never expressed any interest in growing things have been coming to her for gardening advice this spring.

In Turcottes own garden, the balance has shifted from flowers to food, a reflection of a little bit of anxiety about how long the food system can be sustained during the coronavirus crisis.

Ive taken less space for my things that I do for joy, and giving more space to the things that are going to feed us, Turcotte said.

Shes trying to help her elderly parents curb their trips to the supermarket. Shes planted cucumbers, zucchini, strawberries, peas and carrots, and is cultivating an asparagus patch. And of course, tomatoes.

Everybody wants the tomatoes, she said.

Shes mailing seeds to friends around the state, and is on call to give gardening advice to the novices.

I get a lot of messages, Does this look right? Am I doing this right? Turcotte said.

She loves knowing more people are finding comfort in the garden.

I hate this is all happening, but I love the fact that others are getting into this too, she said. I hope when things go back to normal, theyll keep doing it.

Danielle Demers works in the greenhouse with her family at Demers Garden Center in Manchester on Wednesday. Garden centers around the state have been busy this spring as residents have turned to their gardens for a release from coronavirus anxiety.

Plant sales disrupted

For New Hampshires garden clubs, the pandemic has shaken up the way they grow. Small town plots cant be tended to, plant talks had to be postponed and several clubs have canceled annual plant sales.

The Epping Garden Club sold pansies earlier this year, said club president Eunice Miller. But instead of customers coming to pick up their plants when they arrived in mid-March, club members made doorstep deliveries for most of the plants.

The towns garden plots really need to be raked and mulched, Miller said, but you need a few people for that heavy work and the plots arent big enough to keep gardeners six feet apart.

Its disappointing to watch spring coming without being able to spend time with the garden club, Miller said, but she sees it as a necessary sacrifice.

Its for the health of more than just us, she said. Weve just been staying home and working on our own gardens.

The Colonial Garden Club of Hollis knew their annual Mothers Day plant sale could not go on as usual this year.

When we had this coronavirus came on, the executive committee said were going to try to outsmart it and do an online sale, said club secretary Carol Ace. This coronavirus has definitely changed things up a bit.

The clubs website,, will have an ordering form online from May 14-19, and buyers will pay online. Then club members will deliver the plants to buyers homes.

We could have just said were not going to do it, Ace said. But there are hundreds of plants waiting for new homes. And gardeners around the state eager to get growing.

Martha Smith cleans up some of the 600 plants kept at her home for the Colonial Garden Club of Hollis on Saturday.

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Granite State confined at home find freedom and calm in the garden - The Union Leader

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