A cabin fever cure

New Hampshire Outdoor Expo returns

By Mya Blanchard


Spring will soon be upon us, and with it plenty of opportunities to be outside. The New Hampshire Outdoor Expo is the perfect place to prepare for all things outdoors. Exhibitors will be selling supplies for a multitude of outdoor hobbies, from fishing and hunting to camping and boating. The three-day event runs from Friday, March 10, through Sunday, March 12, at the Hampshire Dome in Milford.

“It’s a family event for anybody who’s interested in the outdoors,” expo organizer Dan Kenney said. “We have a … BB gun range, an archery range, an octagon for kids to play in and also a trout pond for them to catch fish … all day long. These are all included in the admission price.”

Kenney, who has traveled across the country doing fishing shows, has been doing exhibitions since 2011 in several northeastern states. This will be the New Hampshire Outdoor Expo’s fifth year at the Hampshire Dome.

“Primarily I do them in January, February [and] March, so when people have cabin fever,” Kenney said. “They can … go inside a building and … get geared up for the season, basically.”

The show will have about 100 exhibitors from all over the region selling items at discounted prices.

One vendor is Mountain Road Trading Post, a specialty outdoor recreational store from Raymond established in 1972. Their focus is primarily on paddle sports, like canoeing and kayaking, but they also have fishing and camping gear.

Troy Brown, the current owner of the store, first came to one of the shows about 10 years ago as an attendee. Last year was his first time coming as a vendor.

“It was a great experience [and a] great time [with] good people, and this year is going to be bigger and better from what I understand,” Brown said. “At shows you get the chance to talk to people, to build relationships, and it does kind of carry over into ongoing customer traffic and ongoing relationships.”

At the expo, Mountain Road Trading Post will have kayak fishing supplies as well as kayaks of multiple brands, varieties and models.

“We’re going to introduce people to the world of kayaks in general … [and] kind of broaden people’s minds about what kayaks are all about,” Brown said.

In addition to the vendors, there will also be educational seminars by industry professionals on topics like hunting and fishing. Renaissance Firearms, a gun shop from Barrington, will be running a laser shooting game and providing instructions on gunsmithing. XSpot Archery, an archery range and shop based in Massachusetts, will be there offering archery instructions.

“It’s a good place to go and kind of visit friends … see the new gadgets and the new products that are out there … talk to like-minded people and … gear up for the season,” Kenney said. “We … have a lot of interesting vendors assembled under one roof that you really just can’t see anywhere.”

New Hampshire Outdoor Expo
When: Friday, March 10, through Sunday, March 12 — hours are from 1 to 8 p.m. on Friday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday
Where: Hampshire Dome, 24 Emerson Road, Milford
Cost: Admission is $15 for adults and free for children ages 12 and under
Visit: nhoutdoorexpo.com

Featured photo: Scenes from the New Hampshire Outdoor Expo. Courtesy photos.

Kiddie Pool 23/03/02

Family fun for the weekend

Library happenings

• The Nashua River Watershed Association will be leading a hands-on Nashua River junior scientist program on Thursday, March 2, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Nashua Public Library (2 Court St.). Kids will use the Nashua River as their “outdoor laboratory,” to explore river issues and do activities related to river ecology, watershed protection, and look at this important resource through the lens of climate change, according to the library. Visit nashualibrary.org.

• Join the Manchester City Library (405 Pine St.) for a day filled with retro games and pixel art on Thursday, March 2, from 1 to 4 p.m. Families can play live-action versions of their favorite retro games, do game-inspired crafts, and create pixel art that’s used in older video games. The program is geared toward kids in grades 1 through 6 and their families. Visit manchester.lib.nh.us for more information.

Girl Scout fun

• Girl Scouts are hosting a unicorn party and sign-up event on Monday, March 6, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Hampstead Central School (21 Emerson Ave.) in the art room. Girls in kindergarten through grade 12, along with a caregiver, are invited to do a hands-on craft while learning more about the Scouts and how to sign up. The event is also virtual and can be accessed at girlscoutsgwm.org.

• And save the date: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains are looking for girls to join their competitive rowing team for the upcoming General Clinton Regatta in New York. Girls don’t have to be a member of the Scouts to join the swift paddlers team, but will become an honorary member for the purpose of the competition. Practices will take place at Camp Kettleford in Bedford and the competition will be in September. To sign up or to get more information, contact customercare@girlscoutsgwm.org or call 888-474-9686.

Get active

• The City Wide Community Center (14 Canterbury Road, Concord) is hosting family drop-in basketball for families in and around the capital city on Thursday, March 2. Games start at 6 p.m. and will be led by the recreation center’s staff. Children participating must be supervised by a teen or adult older than 16. Fee to participate is $2 for Concord residents, $3 for non-residents. For more information about this event, call 225-8690.

• The last race in the Snow or No We Go series is on Saturday, March 4, at 10 a.m. There are two races to choose from, a 2- or 4-mile run/walk. This race will be at the Prospect Acres Obstacle Course (4 Beaumier Drive, Franklin). Proceeds from the signup will benefit the Canterbury Shaker Village, Boys and Girls Club of Central NH, and Prospect Acres Obstacle Course. Registration costs $25 per runner and can be completed at runsignup.com.


• Come to the Capitol Center for the Arts’ Chubb Theatre (44 S. Main St., Concord) to see the Omnium Circus on Thursday, March 2, at 7 p.m. The circus’s new show “I’m Possible” follows the story of Johnny, who goes on a journey of courage and strength in a madcap circus adventure. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are free, but reservations are required. Visit ccanh.com to reserve a spot.

• If you’re at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (6 Washington St. in Dover; childrens-museum.org) on Sunday, March 5, check out the theGallery 6 art exhibition: Step into a Story – Art by New England Illustrators, which closes March 6 (the museum is closed on Mondays). The project looks at the artwork and the creative process of storybook writers and artists from New Hampshire and neighboring states. Entrance to Gallery 6 is free and it is open during museum hours, which vary day to day. For more information, visit childrens-museum.org.

Save the Date

• Get a jump start on Maple Weekend with the Beaver Brook Association (117 Ridge Road, Hollis) at the Maple Sugar Magic Family Event on Sunday, March 12, at 1 p.m. The free event will look at the history of the maple sugar season and the process of tapping and collecting the sweet stuff, through crafts, puppet shows and more. Advance registration is required and can be done at beaverbrook.org/education.

• Join the Palace Theatre (80 Hanover St., Manchester) for Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet on Sunday, April 2, at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The show follows Nancy and her best friend Bree as they audition for the fanciest of ballets, the Deep-Sea Dances. The production is put on by the Southern NH Youth Ballet. In addition to Nancy’s story, they will also perform The Ugly Duckling. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased at palacetheatre.org.

Tips for buying and enjoying cut flowers

Bring the colors of summer inside

Winter drags on, even though the days are getting longer. The sun is often lurking behind gray clouds, and on a good day we only get about nine hours of light. I do miss the colors of summer, so I keep fresh cut flowers on our table — even though I have to buy them.

Cut flowers are among modern America’s true bargains. For the price of a bottle of wine — or a couple of cups of fancy coffee — you can buy flowers that will grace your table for up to three weeks. But there are some things you should know about getting good table-life for your investment.

First, you need to buy fresh flowers that have been carefully tended — and you can’t beat a florist for that. A floral shop has trained personnel who trim each stem in the store every other day and change the water to keep flowers fresh. Cut flowers need to take up water to stay fresh and healthy. Stems tend to scab over after a day or two, which means they cannot take up replacement water, or not much, so they suffer.

Here are some things you can do to promote longer vase life. Cut off leaves that would enter the water in your vase. Leaves will rot, promoting growth of bacteria, which will impede water take-up. Cut off half to three quarters of an inch of each stem every few days, and change the water. Use the packets of white powder that often comes with flowers — it does help.

Keep your arrangement cool if you can. Putting it near a radiator or woodstove or putting it in a sunny window will shorten its life. If you have invested in pricey roses or tulips, you may wish to move the vase to the entryway or mudroom at bedtime to keep the flowers extra cool during the night.

Some flowers are better picks than others if you’re on a budget and can’t afford to buy new flowers every week. Here are my recommendations for good cut flowers:

Lisianthus. These look like silk flowers to me: perfect white, pink or lavender-colored bell-shaped flowers on long stems. Tough to grow in the garden, they are perfect in a vase — I’ve kept them for up to three weeks.

Miniature carnations. Each stem has two to four blossoms. They come in a variety of colors. Mix dark red “minis” with red roses to make a bouquet of roses look fuller. And even after the roses go to Valhalla, the carnations will still be good!

Chrysanthemums. These come in a variety of sizes and colors, from the huge spider mums to little guys. I love the scent of the flowers — it’s not overpowering, but it’s there if you sniff them.

Statice. I grow these for use as dry flowers, which tells you that they really do last forever, even out of water. They come in blue, purple, pink and white.

Spray roses. Instead of a single blossom per stem, these have two to five blossoms, giving you more bang for your buck. These will last about a week, or even more with proper care.

Alstroemeria. One of the best for long life. Each long stem has clusters of 2-inch lily-like blossoms in pinks and reds, with yellow throats. If you buy them in bud, they will look good for three weeks!

Orchids. While not cheap, orchids as cut flowers can last up to a month. I love dendrobiums, though they are not common, even in floral shops. Cymbidiums have bigger blossoms and also last extremely well.

Kangaroo paws. These Australian natives are fuzzy and cute. They come in pinks, reds, orange and brown, and last very well. Not every florist will have them.

Asiatic lilies. I recently got a bouquet of five nice stems grown in New Hampshire that was sold at my local Coop food store. For $12.95, they will bloom with great elegance.

You may wish to ask where the flowers you plan to buy are from. Holland, Colombia, Ecuador and Kenya are the world’s top growers and export much of what is available. Some foreign growers have been criticized for producing flowers using strong pesticides and poor labor practices. The Sun Valley group in California is an excellent major American grower of cut flowers — but there is still the environmental cost of shipping them 3,000 miles to us. If you can buy flowers grown locally in greenhouses, do it!

Everyone loves to receive the gift of cut flowers, even us guys. So treat your loved one or yourself to fresh flowers this winter. They’re cheerful and can make winter less oppressive for gardeners.

Featured photo: Alstroemeria is a long lasting, inexpensive cutflower. Photo by Henry Homeyer.

Kiddie Pool 23/02/23

Family fun for the weekend

Vacation at the museum

• The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center (2 Institute Drive in Concord; starhop.com, 271-7827) will be open daily through Sunday, March 5, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with planetarium shows every hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for adults, $9 for children ages 3 to 12, $11 for seniors ages 62 and older and for students ages 13 through college. Planetarium shows cost an additional $6 for everyone older than 3.

• The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (6 Washington St. in Dover; childrens-museum.org, 742-2002) recommends purchasing tickets in advance during winter vacation, when the museum will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays, with sessions from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 to 4 p.m., and Sundays 9 a.m. to noon. There will be additional drop-in activities focusing on arts, STEM and stories included in the play session, according to a press release. Admission costs $12.50 for everyone over 12 months, $10.50 for 65+.

• The SEE Science Center (200 Bedford St. in Manchester; see-sciencecenter.org, 669-0400) has updated its hours for school vacation. The center will be open Monday, Feb. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in addition to being open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Last admission on weekdays is at 3 p.m., on weekends is at 4 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for visitors ages 3 and older. SEE’s website also recommends making advance reservations.

• Spend more time at the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire (27 Navigator Road in Londonderry; aviationmuseumofnh.org, 669-4820) with its extended vacation hours. On Tuesday, Feb. 28; Wednesday, March 1, and Thursday March 2, the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in addition to its usual hours of Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. In addition to the extended hours, the museum will have activities including a story time on Wednesday, March 1, at 10 a.m. and a flight simulator for kids 12 and up on Tuesday, Feb. 28, and Thursday, March 2, from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission for children under the age of 6 is free, kids ages 6 to 12 and veterans and their families are $5. Standard admission for visitors age 13 and older is $10.

Movie theater fun

• Sugar up at Theater Candy Bingo at Chunky’s Nashua location (151 Coliseum Ave.) on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m. The live hosted bingo night will have candy and a few Chunky’s giveaways as well as prizes at the end of each round. It costs $10 to reserve a seat (with an included $5 food voucher) and a box of candy to go into the pot. Only one bingo per customer. Visit chunkys.com to reserve a spot.

• Get dazzled by Ben Pratt at his family-friendly magic show at Chunky’s in Manchester (707 Huse Road) on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 6:30 p.m. Pratt, who has won many awards for his illusions, is a Granite State native who has performed across New England and in Las Vegas. Tickets for his high-energy magic-meets-standup comedy show cost $15 and can be bought at chunkys.com.

Winter festivities

The 31st annual Winter Carnival is on Saturday, Feb. 25, at Wasserman Park in Merrimack. The carnival will have a special appearance by Mack, the Police Department’s comfort dog, as well as the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. The event will get the family out frolicking in the cold winter air (and hopefully snow) to celebrate the season. There will be warm food and drinks to keep the chill away. The event starts at noon. For more information visit merrimackparksandrec.org/winter-carnival.

A story to tell

Authors at the Vineyard event returns

By Mya Blanchard


Local authors, illustrators, publishers and book-lovers will gather at Zorvino Vineyards in Sandown for Authors at the Vineyard, returning on Sunday, Feb. 26, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event is sponsored by the New England Author Expo, founded in 2006 by Chris Obert, of the Bradford, Mass.-based Pear Tree Publishing. Obert said he was looking for a way to get not only his own books into the hands of readers, but those of other independent authors as well.

“I came up with the idea of doing a local book event … and we invited any local author that we could find,” Obert said in an email.

Authors at the Vineyard functions as a book sale, meant to connect authors with potentially new readers.

One such author is Karri Moser, who currently lives in Lebanon, Maine. With both her father and husband having served time in the military, Moser has lived in many places all across the country. But it was her time in Maine that has served as an inspiration for many of her stories.

“We had been stationed up here and had a house, and I loved Maine, and I loved the coast and we got orders to move,” Moser said. “I really missed the ocean and those kinds of towns, so [what] inspired my first book was basically being away from that kind of environment.”

Moser’s latest release, The Road to Abilene, is her first book that lacks any connection to New England, as well as her first that transcends her usual genre of women’s fiction to romance.

“It fits the tenets of romance and it’s also military fiction,” Moser said. “It’s based on [the] military lifestyle when the main love interest is in the army. … It takes place on [an] army post and it kind of mirrors my own experiences.”

California native Anita Oswald, another featured author, moved to New Hampshire at the beginning of high school. It was around this time that she started experimenting with writing.

“I used to write these little stories instead of journaling or writing in a diary. I couldn’t actually find myself sitting down to commit to writing … every day,” Oswald said. “So I used to take whatever I was feeling at the time and write it down in a … quick one- or two-page story, and then I … just kind of filed them away and never did anything with them.”

Oswald has continued to use writing as an outlet for her feelings and emotions, which resulted in her first published book, Letters to My Ex, a collection of letters she wrote over the course of a year following a difficult breakup.

“It was a very cathartic process for me, and I hoped that maybe [by] … putting my process and experience out there, I could help other people,” she said.

Oswald’s latest release, 2022’s Brother Where Art Thou, falls into the psychological thriller genre, another style she connects with in addition to the modern-day romance.

“I want to entertain people with my writing, and the more people that I can get it out there to, the better,” she said. “I think I’m going to consider the [author event] … personally [to be] successful if I can introduce myself to new people, introduce my books to new people and have those people share their excitement for being able to read them.”

Authors at the Vineyard
Where: Sunday, Feb. 26, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
When: Zorvino Vineyards, 226 Main St., Sandown
Cost: Admission is free; books written by each of the featured authors will be available for purchase
Visit: newenglandauthorsexpo.com

Featured photo: Authors at the Vineyard returns on Sunday, Feb. 26. Courtesy photo.

The benefits of organic vs. chemical soil treatment

On a cold and snowy day I paused to think back a few years to a conference I attended run by the Ecological Farming Association in Pacific Grove, California. There were several sessions by scientists presenting research confirming what organic gardeners have always known: organic techniques yield plants that resist disease and insects better, and produce better-quality and healthier vegetables. I dug out my notes, and would like to share some of what I learned.

Dr. Larry Phelan, a research scientist at Ohio State University, explained that he wanted to see if organically grown plants attracted insect pests differently than those grown using conventional techniques. He collected soil from two farms that were across the road from each other. The soils were identical except for how they had been tended for the past several years. One farm was organic, the other conventional.

To reduce other variables, Dr. Phelan brought the soil to his greenhouse and potted it up in large containers. He then grew corn in the containers, adding chemical fertilizers in some, fresh cow manure in some, and composted manure in others, using both types of soil for each method. When the corn was at the appropriate size, he released corn borers into the greenhouse and watched what happened.

Not surprisingly, the corn borers preferred the corn grown conventionally. Not only that, but the long-term history of the soil also mattered. The soil from the organic farm had higher levels of organic material in it, and consistently was less attractive to the borers, even if used with chemical fertilizers.

Why should this occur? Dr. Phelan explained that plants evolved over the millennia getting their nutrients through the soil food web, depending on the symbiotic relationships between plants and microorganisms. Soils rich in organic matter provide much needed nutrients in a slow, steady stream, the way Mother Nature does it.

He said that when a plant gets too much nitrogen, the excess is stored in the form of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. For insects, this is like candy for kids: they can detect it, and go to the source.

Dr. Autar Mattoo of the United States Department of Agriculture Research Station in Beltsville, Maryland, also presented some very interesting findings. He compared the health of tomatoes grown with chemical fertilizer on black plastic to the health of those grown organically using a mulch of hairy vetch, an annual cover crop. He found that tomatoes grown with hairy vetch were dramatically better at resisting fungal diseases, especially those that cause blackening and dropping of leaves, which is often the bane of gardeners.

Dr. Mattoo explained that the vetch fixes nitrogen when growing. Which is to say it extracts nitrogen from the air and turns it into a form that plants can use. It was mowed down before flowering and allowed to stay on the surface of the soil, producing a considerable biomass to nourish soil microorganisms.

Compared to chemical fertilizer and black plastic, Dr. Mattoo found a 25 to 30 percent increase in yield using vetch. He explained that eventually the organic tomato plants would develop fungal diseases, but that for the first 84 days after transplant (late August for us), there was virtually no leaf blackening. At the same time, the tomato plants grown conventionally were severely damaged.

He attributed much of the difference to hormone signaling. Anti-fungal proteins can be produced when specific genes are activated, protecting leaves. He explained that depending on the environmental conditions specific genes are turned on or off. He was able to show this by photographing specific genes in the leaves of the tomatoes to see their size and thus their levels of activity. It appears that something in the vetch stimulated the tomatoes to produce those anti-fungal proteins.

What does all this prove? Being an organic gardener has many benefits, and scientists are just catching up with us! So as you plan your garden projects for the spring, think about giving up your use of chemical fertilizers.

Featured photo: This artichoke from my garden was grown without chemicals. Photo by Henry Homeyer.

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