It has been a few busy weeks, and it seems the next few shall bring much activity as well, so it took me until Friday to write this post. With the spring coming, I’m working on a fresh new product line of belly beads and planning my garden using the permaculture approach. And so far it has been an exciting adventure with lots to learn.
We had a lovely Mother’s day. My partner made banana oatmeal pancakes, and we spent the morning at home playing with the kids. In the afternoon, we set off to our respective adventures. The baby and I went to Mothers, Midwives & Babies: Celebrating 20 Years of Ontario Midwifery, and my partner and son spent that time at the Aviation Museum. It was great to see the midwives, get a tour of the new birth centre in Ottawa, view a collage of old photos documenting the history of midwifery in Ontario, and spend time with friends outdoors while kids played around us. Afterwards we came home and had a relaxing evening with Thai takeout for dinner and more quiet play.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been working on belly beads and loving it. I have initially thought of making belly beads for pregnant bellies only, but then I tried some on and realized how wonderful they feel. They also do seem to make me a lot more aware of my core muscles – which makes me remember yoga a lot more often. I have been wearing some around the house for the past few days. The Canada Post lady delivering a package smiled in surprise – I thought to tell her that, yes, I just belly dance all day, hence the attire.
I have incorporated gemstones, crystals, and Czech fire-polished beads into the designs, and have tried two- and three-colour combinations so far. They come out vibrant and light. I added a small drop to each one to hang over the belly button, as an accent. Some of them are being field-tested by friends and so far I’m getting great feedback. A friend has mentioned that her daughter would love some, and so I shall be testing out belly beads for children. And there are beads in the works for two friends who wish to celebrate their beautiful growing pregnant bellies. It is shaping up to be a very exciting and fulfilling project.
If I did not have my hands full before, I’m certainly lining things up to be busy this summer. For three years now, we have been growing some food and flowers on our tiny plot of land. Some plants in some years gave plentiful harvest, but we have to struggle with a clay-filled shallow soil, lack of an external water hook-up, and hours of blazing hot sun that burns down plants even when they are watered every day. And although I have grown some beautiful flowers that made it onto the postcards, so far nothing that requires even partial shade has survived a summer, and our daily watering ritual includes hooking up the garden hose to the kitchen sink, which requires partial disassembly of the tap. Last summer, watering was a bit easier since there was so much rain, but few things ripened as there were not that many sunny days. It is a delicate dance between scorching heat and never-ending rain, not with any consistent results.
Oh, and squirrels. Did I mention squirrels? If we actually manage to grow anything edible, before we even know it’s nearing a ripe state, squirrels consume half of it and scatter the other half. Strawberries, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, flower bulbs and petals, – you name it, they eat or destroy it. And peanuts are to be stored in my flower beds, since that’s the best hiding spot in the entire neighbourhood. The flowers can just move over in their opinion. To be fair, I cannot blame the squirrels from picking on me, as most people in our town house complex have their back yards paved with large square stone tiles and do not suffer anything to grow if they can help it.
So this year I am attempting to put more thought into the garden design, and I have been looking into permaculture with the help of the wonderful Dasha and Sebastien from Agape Gardens. I have been watching Geoff Lawton’s inspiring videos on transforming dry terrain into luscious gardens and learning how permaculture designs use the natural features of the land to create a viable food-producing ecosystem.
Our rental corporation is planning to replace all the fences, and so we have to be constrained in our design, to prevent the trampling and destruction of the plants during the construction. So for now nothing can climb fences or grow too close to them, which is unfortunate. Since we have so little space and so much sun, we have decided to go vertical and create plant towers. That can allow us to plant flowers or root vegetables (such as carrots, beets, potatoes) on top, heavy vegetables (squashes and such) on the bottom, and things like strawberries, tomatoes, and greens on the sides of the tower. The herbs can then go on the ground around the towers. The towers will also allow us to create some shade and hopefully prevent the plants from being scorched if the summer is very hot.
If anyone has any ideas on how to deter the squirrels, I’d love to hear them! I have tried black or cayenne pepper sprinkled on top of the plants, but it gets washed off by the first rain, and squirrels seem to ignore it in any case. We cannot put any wire or anything spiky on the ground, as we do have children and a cat who can get hurt by it. We are planning to get a bird feeder to attract the birds to the garden for insect consuming purposes, and perhaps squirrels will take more interest in the feeder than in the plants, but I have my doubts. After all, flower beds are a great choice for peanut hiding, and the towers will likely be as well.
Lots to learn, and lots to plan and implement. I am excited to try this approach and see where it takes us.