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!
To get to Cahal Pech from the center of San Ignacio, head up Benque Viejo Road. We walked from Midas Resort, which is further out in the opposite direction of Cahal Pech but it was no problem at all. If you are near any of the major tour companies, including MayaWalk, PACZ, etc., it will be quite easy to find your way to these under-explored local ruins.
Once you get to the massive (for Belize) intersection seen below, walk towards the blue wall near the dirt path. The juxtaposition of the well preserved ruins against an industrial street is only another example of Belize's push for eco-tourism.
There will be a stadium to your left as you walk along the road. It was closed for construction while we were there but looked to be a massive undergoing project.
As you approach the fork in the road, you may or may not notice the tiny green sign in the middle of the black metal fence. This sign indicates that you are well on your way to Cahal Pech.
Simply walk up the dirt road to your right, on the side where Andrew is standing and make your way up the steep incline. I probably recall this much more dramatically than it really was, as the humidity was quite high in September while we were there. However, I still enjoyed going during this season as I dislike large tourist crowds (ironically, I currently live in Manhattan).
At the top of the hill, you will reach a visitor's center, at which point you will pay $10 BZ per person to enter the ruins. The visitor's center has a small museum to meander through that explains the origins and significance of Cahal Pech.
A few steps down the path and you will find yourself in Cahal Pech.
Being 5'3" tall (160 cm for my international readers), climbing the Maya stairs was much harder than expected. Especially since almost every step went up to my knees.
The great cohune palm. 'Tis literally a really hard nut to crack but apparently a resourceful part of the Maya existence. We only successfully cracked this nut by having a 180 pound man stomp on it. This palm tree provides cohune oil from its nuts, leaves for the roofing of Maya homes and is used for many other purposes.
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