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!
New York City, particularly Manhattan, is a public transportation and walker's haven and because of this, it is probably one of the worst places to have deal with a broken ankle and crutches. Granted, the doctors and hospitals are great but the public transportation is ill-fitting for those with handicaps or disabilities related to walking. Here are some things i learned while roaming (slowly) around the city on crutches to and from work.
Not all subway stops have elevators or escalators
And even if they do have elevators or escalators, there is a high chance that they are going to be 1) out of order or 2) filthy or 3) both. I had to do my research (http://web.mta.info/accessibility/stations.htm) prior to going anywhere to determine whether it would be worthwhile for me to attempt stairs while PWB (partial weight bearing) on crutches.
Women are more likely to offer you their seat on the subway
When I get on the subway car, it's usually a 50/50 toss up of whether there will be readily available seats and these chances are especially slim when commuting to work during rush hour. I've noticed that about 80% of the time, other women are more willing to offer me their seat whereas many men tend to avoid my gaze. I definitely try not to pressure anyone or ask anyone if I could take their seat as I am getting better bearing weight on my broken foot and feel like I need to practice. But it is a nice gesture when someone does offer and I appreciate it immensely.
Service like Uber and Lyft far surpass their yellow cab competitors
Since I live on a more residential street in the city, it is not so easy to flag down a yellow cab and so I find car sharing services such as Lyft and Uber to be much more convenient as they pick me up directly in front of my building. For some reason, Lyft drivers are the most accommodating and helpful, some even going out of their way to help me into their cars when I was in the earlier stages of recovery. (You don't know how hard it is to close and open a car door when NWB (non-weight bearing) until you have to do it.) Uber drivers generally try to get you as close to your destination's door as possible as well. Yellow cab drivers could not care less about your predicament and live up their reputation of being rude and offensive. I'm constantly rushed out of yellow cabs by the cab drivers who do not care that you are handicapped even if you explain or apologize.
Seamless and food delivery apps are blessings
Having no energy to cook or strength to purchase groceries, falling back on food delivery services was an incredible option to have and one of the greatest benefits of living in a place like NYC. I'm thankful that variety in my neighborhood is pretty good, however, the healthy options could have been better. I've used more than my fair share of Seamless, UberEats, GrubHub, and my favorite Vietnamese shop.
I recently created 2 gigs on Fiverr. For those who are unaware, Fiverr is a social selling platform in which individuals can sell their services for $5 +. For example, some people sell their voice overs for $5! Or personalized drawings...or even excel formulas!
Meanwhile, I will plan your trip to Asia for $5! Just five bucks. I'm not posting this here as a shameless marketing plug but I'm posting this here because I have received actual orders! This is amazing. I posted this up for fun since I have had some free time but now, I've already planned trips for people to Thailand and Korea. You have no idea how unbelievably fun and fulfilling this has been - it has also allowed me to live vicariously through the people taking these trips. Ahhh, yes, the joy of traveling in Asia.
As a spin off of this success, I will also plan your trip to California for $5! Telling people the best things about traveling and living in California like a local has been such a dream. Born and raised here, I adore this state and love sharing all the experiences I have had with foreigners coming in to visit. From places like my favorite hole in the wall restaurant to the best non-touristy view of the Hollywood sign and Pacific ocean, I lay it all out for my fellow adventurers.
This is a tough topic for me tackle. Almost a full year after I concluded my travels in SEA, I have been plagued by increasing hair loss. Initially, it was not noticeable (to me, at least) but I've recently gotten a bit of commentary on my now very thin hair. I searched the topic and other men and women have experienced this same phenomena after travelling through very humid and tropical climates as I did. After much research and perhaps some irrational thinking during this (continuing) ordeal, here are some reasons I considered as the cause for my hair loss as well as some discussion around them.
1. Female pattern baldness
My scalp after two days without washing my hair. Apparently, the Christmas tree hair loss patterns here may be indicative of female pattern baldness. As a 21 year old, this is absolutely terrifying for myself and a massive bash to my self-image and self-confidence. I know, many people will say that I shouldn't care about how I look and contribute a plethora of sayings along the lines of "confidence is from within." Let's be real. I'm 21 and losing handfuls of hair in the shower and I'm scared out of my wits about being prematurely bald.
2. Stress from moving to another country/travelling extensively
Admittedly, my hair was always thin to begin with as you can see from this picture from 2012, long before any sort of travelling. That was the texture but not the density of the hair on my scalp. I never felt any extreme stress while abroad especially when getting used to the new environment, foods, peoples and cultures. However, my body and physicality displayed quite the contrary with my yearlong hair loss. Physical and/or emotional stress might have sent my body into rest mode in which I'd tend to notice more hair loss. Actually, I might have forgotten about my hospital episode in Cambodia wherein there was the stress of a 104 degree fever that wreaked havoc for 4 days.
"During the telogen, or resting, phase the follicle remains dormant anywhere from 1–4 months. Ten to fifteen percent of the hairs on one's head are in this phase of growth at any given time." Source
Bear in mind that I am no dermatologist and I plan to seek professional help once I am back from my internship in South Korea. All of this is done with the most minimal of research and maximum of freaking out.
3. I wore a cap/hat almost everyday while backpacking
Unless my cap was excessively tight, then this would not be a good reason and/or cause for hair loss.
Hair loss myth busters
4. I dyed my hair too goddamn much
No, that isn't my real hair colour though it might as well be now that I've exposed my hair to so much sunshine. I've dyed and used heating tools on my hair for over 6 years now and I thought that my current hair loss is extreme karma for disobeying the almighty Asian parents that I have when I dyed my hair against their wishes multiple times. However, dyes are generally only harmful to the hair strands themselves and don't necessarily lead to hair loss.
There are SO MANY reasons I thought of that could possibly explain the current state of my scalp but of course, I should seek professional attention and I will! For now, I am using OTC 2% minoxidil treatments to help revitalize my hair follicles and combat some of my unfortunately low self-esteem. If all is well, I will post a hair loss/scalp update in 6 months - 1 year.
Does this discourage me from travelling to hot and humid locations? NO. Not at all. But it does make me more aware of how I'm taking care of my body.
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