Disclaimer: I had no idea what I was doing last year when I planted these cucumbers. It was a 'learn as you go' type of experience!
The seedlings were quickly outgrowing their initial pots and started shading other plants in the greenhouse so I figured it was time to move them to the great outdoors. At the time, I thought this teepee-style trellis was a good idea... but later learned that was not nearly enough!
Cucumber tendrils appear as the young plants start settling in! They begin grabbing onto the trellis and stretching out towards the sun.
Week 11-12 : Hello Flowers!
This is when we started experiencing major growth spurts which I think is due to a combination of the weather and larger soil area which can now absorb and hold more water.
We took a summer vacation and came back to a tangled mess. The plants had started grabbing onto their neighbors and all of the leaves were getting very crowded. I separated them from each other and built a larger trellis as seen below. The leaves looked a bit droopy after aggressive manual intervention so I was worried.
Week 17 - Fruits of our LAbor
Despite the previous manual handling of the plants, they rebounded and actually started producing cucumbers! This was thanks to a single lonely bee that somehow ended up on our 27th floor balcony and some very tedious pollination by hand using an old eyeliner brush of mine. I am just gazing at my cucumber in awe in the last photo.
Week 18 & Beyond
The following weeks of summer were less exciting as we lost our single bee friend who helped with the pollination. We also experienced a powdery mildew attack on our cucumbers which I had a hard time battling. I have not planted any cucumbers this year yet but after writing up this post, I think I will go do that right now!
Since I moved to Toronto from NYC at the end of 2018 after moving so many times in my life, I have finally started nesting. Is it some chemical reaction happening in my brain as I get older? Am I starting to abandon the chase of metropolitan city living? Am I forgetting that I have to haul all my shit when I undoubtedly move again? In any case, I wanted to document my plant parenthood and growth as it developed over the course of 2019. I am continuing this journey now in 2020 and hope it'll be as fun and exciting as last year!
It started with lemongrass and my dad's dragon fruit. In Feb 2019, we decided to plant some lemongrass for fun and the dragon fruit from my dad's garden in Los Angeles. There's no way the dragon fruit will bear fruit in our Toronto climate but we thought we'd try to revive it.
Week 1 - The experiment starts
After a moment of crazed research and short trip to the dollar store, I started planting.
Peep my very low-cost lighting contraption that did nothing at all. I was proud of myself for about a day.
3 weeks In(End of April)
Decided to plant sunflowers without realizing they are Russian mammoths (more on that in another post). By April 30, almost all of my seeds have germinated and sprouted! I did not expect such a high germination rate hence the density of my seedlings. This led to some tricky balcony layouts in the summer.
4 weeks in (Beginning of May)
Yep, I got really excited and bought a greenhouse and an LED plant light. The weather started warming up but I kept the plants in the greenhouse with a heating pad.
6 Weeks in
Things starting getting out of hand with space and I had to get creative. Say hello to the top of my microwave and top of my fridge.
8 Weeks In
My babies started looking like real plants! We spent a Saturday morning separating the seedlings into their separate pots as they started to crowd each other. This was about the time I started calling them my babies as well...
10 weeks In
The growth sped up quickly as the weather warmed up and I started exposing the seedlings to direct sunshine for a few hours a day. Also, I decided it was a good idea to plant cucumbers without realizing how much space they actually need. These fabric pots are convenient for people who move often (aka me).
12 Weeks in - My First HArvest! (July 1)
Right before Andrew and I went on vacation to Greece, we started witnessing major growth. It was so wonderful to see my pet project (literally) grow!
Andrew, being my #1 fan, was the first to taste our very first balcony garden harvest :) He was more impressed than the picture indicates.
14 weeks in
We took a brief hiatus during our Greece trip and enlisted one of our close friends (shout out to Cory!) to water our plants while we were gone. Lo and behold, we came back to a mini urban jungle and had some reorganizing to do.
Threw together a plant trellis with some more materials from the dollar store and acquired more pots.
The rest of the summer
The rest of the summer involved more harvests, lots of watering, and plenty of lounging in my hammock. As I write this in April 2020, I cannot wait for hammock weather to return to Toronto!
My first time seeing snow and guess what, my first time making a snow (wo)man! I even gave her a fancy twig necklace - I think I should enter one of those snow-building competitions and represent California appropriately.
My two week stay was definitely a short blast of icy air and warm hugs galore. Of course I had to indulge in the iconic Tim Hortons (probably too much, in fact), poutin, and some of Andrew's bachelor cooking skills. Hung out with Mama J in Toronto and had the most delicious melt-in-yo-mouth pork belly ramen. Here is an arbitrary smattering of the atrociously unhealthy food I consumed in Ontario that no one is really interested in but as you know, I love to share foodporn. On a related note, despite all of the hype, ketchup chips are pretty dang gross.
Meandered through the alleys of Toronto with Andrew and came upon graffiti row. Now, coming from East LA and downtown LA, I can't even begin to describe my appreciation for this type of art. It goes beyond capturing a beautiful landscape but embodies the thoughts, emotions and experiences of the artists - all in bright animated colours.
We went snowboarding as well and I tackled the HARDCORE bunny slopes. This is the heart of my title for this blog post. I used to imagine snow as light fluffy pillows similar to that of down feathers but this is certainly not the case when you repeatedly fall on your bum upon getting off of a chairlift. Chairlifts are dangerous and evil! But I will master them one day. Another reason why my bum was in so much pain was because they served as my braking gear. I got the hang of digging in one's heels to stop; however, I have found that simply braking by landing on my behind was a good alternative especially as I tried to avoid smashing into little kids. I promise I only cried once out of the many times I fell. Promise!
Til we meet again, Canada! Hopefully we will not have a plumbing disaster this time around.
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