As the quarantine began in March and has kept more people at home, new hobbies became all the rage, including a rising interest in planting a garden. Not only has gardening has been a way to cure some boredom, but the stay-at-home orders throughout Illinois also came during the ideal season for spring planting. 

Some members of our INB staff share how the pandemic has provided them with time to tend to and develop a flourishing garden…

Crazy plant lady Photo of plants Emily has grown

You’ve probably heard the phrase “crazy cat lady” … but have you heard of a “crazy plant lady”? Emily Slightom, senior teller at INB Chatham, laughs about that being her new description. She already had seven plants in her apartment pre-COVID, and since March, she’s added 11 more plants!

Emily’s garden includes different herbs such as basil and cilantro. Growing them in pots on her front porch, she has been able to use them fresh in her cooking. She also set up a drying station in her kitchen, so she can use her own dried herbs instead of buying them from the grocery store.

Emily’s love for gardening won’t stop when quarantine ends. “Next year I plan on adding more herbs and some vegetables to my little porch garden,” she shares.

Growing gardening know-how 

This year, Mark Donovan and his wife Lara made some adjustments to their large backyard garden they’ve had since moving into their house a few years ago.

The family put up chicken wire around the wooden frames they built to keep out bunnies and squirrels. And thanks to the Sangamon County Gardeners Facebook page, the Donovans have learned lots of new gardening tips – most recently, how to help their new zucchini plants start to produce.

“The zucchini plants were slow to take off, but we learned if you cut back 30 percent of the flat leaves at the root, it promotes air flow and increases visibility for the pollinators,” Lara says.

They also have grown carrots, chives, mint green peppers, and three kinds of tomatoes, which they love to cook with all summer and fall.

Second time’s the charm

Last year, Evan Westlake’s family didn’t have much luck trying to start a garden. With no idea how to start and not as much effort put into it as needed, the plants didn’t prosper.

With newfound time on their hands this spring, Evan’s family decided to give gardening real effort.

“We planted cherry tomatoes, radishes, cilantro, basil, parsley and zucchini. The zucchini was the only one that we didn't do well with, but everything else is thriving,” shares Evan, SVP Commercial Lending.

Evan said it’s been exciting for the family to see their vegetables and herbs grow, and his two kids enjoy eating what they’ve grown.