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Canada Covid Projects Garden Life during Covid 19 Organic Food Vancouver Island

Raised Bed Veggie Garden for Newbies!

In our province of British Columbia, Canada we currently have over 70% of all people having received at least one dose of Covid vaccine and our freedom to interact is increasing steadily!

Pipers Lagoon during recent heat wave in Nanaimo

The 15 months of lockdowns and Covid 19 safety restrictions in British Columbia were indeed challenging, but necessary. Like many others, we utilized this period of lockdown to reflect and enhance our sustainability independence.

As fresh produce was increasingly difficult to obtain, and we were avoiding shopping line ups whenever possible, we decided to join so many others who were establishing vegetable gardens. Until now, our gardens were the flower and shrub variety. Priorities were changing…

Flowers and shrubs around our yard on Vancouver Island

Initially, we researched by watching youtube videos, contacting experienced gardeners, reading about most successful plants to produce in our growing zone area, and talking to experts at local garden stores. Then we observed the areas of our yard which produced the most direct sun for varying periods of time each day and season.

Location selected… Mark and Sophia measure the area

My husband measured the selected location while Sophia (our rescue cat) observed. We decided to use 3 raised beds for this initial garden creation. After establishing level bases, the support beams were placed. Next the 3 beds were framed and built.

My husband created these beautiful beds mainly utilizing using recycled materials from previous projects.

Mark designed the raised boxes and built them mainly utilizing recycled materials. I learned about companion plants and the most successful vegetables to use for newbies first attempts at growing vegetables.

Gogo Family Business in Nanaimo

Next stop, was Gogo’s sawmill to purchase some local rough edge cedar planks to beautify the exterior of the beds. The Gogo family has been involved in local logging for a few generations.

Local Gogo Sawmill

The office displays amazing photos of old growth timber from past eras. Sadly, the number of these majestic trees still standing has dwindled substantially.

Historical photos of old growth trees and logging practices –many moons ago!

Green Thumb, our local nursery, sells local organic mixed soil.

Getting the right combination of soil

We needed to consider drainage and mixes of soils. This project was more complicated than we anticipated!

Wahoo! Beautiful raised beds completed and ready for planting!

Once the raised beds were lined and completed on the outside, then we commenced the process of mixing all the soil types and compost together and carefully planting the seeds being cognizant of companion planting.

Companion planting in each bed was carefully considered. Waiting….

Everything seemed to make perfect sense. But, there was much learning yet to come. The water irrigation system was set up. The trellis for the peas was up. Patiently we awaited the signs of growth.

Sophia plays with fawns in our front yard

Meanwhile, Sophia played with the neighborhood fawns. My husband and I constantly appreciate the diversity of beautiful flowers popping up around the yard.

Then finally, our vegetable garden started to establish itself. Selecting fresh vegetables and herbs as you create your meals each day really is inspiring and so gratifyingly.

Loving the fresh produce each day

From this experience we learned to deeply appreciate local organic farmer market producers as we battled slugs, earwigs, cabbage worms, mildew, overcrowding, and wilting from excessive heat. There truly is a lot of thought and effort involved in producing fresh produce.

Our learning curve was steep last year, but this year we have returned with more optimism and ideas. The tomato plants are separated in their own caged pots on the sundeck.

Our veggie garden July 7th 2021

We have given up on iceberg lettuce (earwigs love it) and Gai Lan (cabbage worms love it). Planting occurred a month earlier than last year (early May) with extra radishes in place. We also added raspberries and strawberries this year in addition to all of our fruit trees.

Produce from last season! The cherries are nearly ripe right now and the radishes are delicious this year!

Each morning there is such satisfaction checking the garden’s progress. We wait with inspired anticipation to see what bounty we are offered this season.

Keep smiling! Upcoming blog posts reflect hiking, kayaking, and outdoor exploration on Vancouver Island.

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Art Canada Caring for Humanity Cats Harbour City Newcomers Club Life during Covid 19 Nature Springtime Vancouver Island

Conquering Covid Carefully! Feeling Optimistic :-)

As Covid 19 vaccines become more accessible globally, and magic totals for ‘herd’ immunity become more of a reality than a dream; there is a new optimism about interacting with loved ones after a lengthy hug drought of over 15 months!

Hopeful for a Canada/Thailand reunion soon!

I selected a photo of Sophia (our rescue kitten) looking anxiously through the door and wondering what is happening, to introduce this blog post as it seems an accurate portrayal of Covid life during lockdowns.

What’s going on?

Sophia is extremely expressive and her antics generate laughs and discussions which truly brightened our days during lockdown periods.

The many moods of Sophia (aged 10 months)

In Canada, we are carefully observing the new freedoms we see exhibited via media in Australia, the United States and U.K. We are not there yet. In British Columbia, Dr. Bonnie Henry continues to be our amazing leader throughout this pandemic. My husband and I gratefully received our first Moderna ‘jab’ on April 28th, 2021 and are currently awaiting the notification that it is our time to receive the second dose.

Last week, with huge excitement and relief, we commenced stage 1 of a 4 stage Restart plan in B.C. with hopeful anticipation that we will experience a new “norm” and freedom by September, 2021.

Step 1 of the BC Restart Directive. May 25th 2021

The Covid 19 Pandemic has shaken the world and changed all sense of what we experience as “normal”. This blog post is driven by a grateful optimism towards the future, while remembering life and adaptations we faced in March 2020 when our lives suddenly changed…. Covid 19 arrived!

Mid March 2020. The first Covid 19 lockdown!

Prior to the March Lockdown….

My husband accepted a job as part of a team working in Hamilton, Ontario for a few months departing from Nanaimo in mid February 2020. I joined the Harbour City Newcomers Club in Nanaimo excited to meet new people and explore activities in this new location. My son, Alexander, had recently moved back home to Canada after working at Western Digital in Bangkok, Thailand for the past 6 years. He was hired just prior to Covid as a Manufacturing Engineer at StarFish Medical Consultants in Victoria, B.C.

In Early March 2020 Sophia enjoyed the many facets of being a kitten–from sleeping anywhere and everywhere, to discovering her world. She was particularly fond of munching fresh grass every morning before exploring outdoors.

Sophia’s life as a 10 month old kitten

As a member of the Harbour City Newcomers Club (HCNC), I was enjoying meeting new people, attending art workshops, and being creative using new paint techniques.

HCNC Paint workshops

In mid March 2020 we even participated in an Artisan tour checking out nearby galleries including a glass blowing studio. We car pooled together in vehicles and nobody wore masks! The following day, new lock down rules were implemented in B.C. It was the end of carpools, group meetings and indoor activities. This was the official beginning of masks and Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!

HCNC Art tour mid March 2020

Who would have anticipated that this hair appointment would be the last one I would have for nearly a year and this would possibly be the last time I would see my hairdresser without both of us wearing protective face masks?

Last hair appointment before covid! No masks!

In mid March 2020 the world as we knew it drastically changed! The unprecedented Covid 19 Pandemic arrived and people started to horde toilet paper, hand sanitizer, soap, masks, gloves, and canned food. Suddenly, there was a frenzy of uncertainty!

Covid Coping Strategies:

Thankfully, we live in a single detached home with a large yard near to lots of hiking trails and ocean access. Nature and Spring beauty bring peace and inner grounding during this unsettled and scary time.

Spring beauty around Nanaimo

Another of my favorite locations is Buttertubs Marsh. There is always a plethora of bird songs and diverse species to observe. If you are lucky, you might see turtles or Great Blue Herons.

Buttertubs marsh

My dad passed away in 2007. His favorite bird was the Great Blue Heron and it is always a thrill and comfort when they grace my day. This Heron at Buttertubs was very close to the trail.

Great Blue Heron

While I was active exploring nature and outdoor trails on Vancouver Island, my husband in Ontario visited Niagara Falls. Due to Covid lockdown… the highly popular tourist location was nearly devoid of visitors in late March 2020. What a strange and unusual experience!

Stunning Niagara Falls Late March 2020 during Covid lockdown

By late March 2020 we were starting to adapt to this initial Covid 19 lockdown. Sophia taught me to chill, reflect and sleep a lot. Puzzles and books were becoming a popular option to aid the passing of time spent alone. Stores were crazy places to avoid whenever possible. Masks were not mandated yet, but long lines and empty shelves were troubling realities. Schools and most businesses were closed during the first lockdown. There were constant disturbing news updates about areas hardest hit by Covid 19. North America seemed to fair pretty well initially, but that was to change as the Global Pandemic progressed.

Adapting to Covid 19 lockdown in late March 2020

While we embraced early signs of Spring on Vancouver Island, other areas of B.C. and Canada were still in the midst of late Winter.

Late March on Vancouver Island. The Moose photo was taken up in Burns Lake, B.C.

Daily walks and hikes outdoors were a welcome release. There are so many wooded areas, trails, lakes, rivers, and marshes to explore around Vancouver Island.

Nature walks minutes from my house in Nanaimo–March 23rd 2020

More nearby early signs of Spring to help a person feel grounded and grateful.

March 24th exploration near our home in Nanaimo

When the schools and playgrounds closed and people were confined to their homes, the hearts and messages of hope became more plentiful around our community.

Hearts in the windows and on rocks, and messages of Hope and Optimism. March 25th

As March drew to an end, it was clear that my husband’s job in Hamilton, Ontario would be terminating soon due to lockdown occurring in Ontario. Mark’s flight home to B.C. was booked for the first week of April. We were anxiously awaiting his arrival home.

Sophia was waiting too….

Suddenly, domestic and international flights were all getting cancelled due to the Pandemic. Mark needed to get home IMMEDIATELY before all the provincial borders were closed between British Columbia and Ontario!

Mark travelled home from Hamilton, Ontario (near Toronto) to Vancouver Island, B.C.

So after hours on hold with reservation centers, my husband managed to obtain a seat on an earlier flight departing the following day. Airport safety and protocols were pretty sketchy and the flight was completely full on March 31st 2020. Safety protocols certainly intensified prior to vaccines, as pandemic specialists learned more about this new Covid 19 virus.

My husband’s experience travelling from Toronto to Nanaimo during Covid lockdown on March 31st 2020.

There was no physical spacing in the airports or on the planes, so Mark wore a face mask and we mutually agreed he would go into voluntary quarantine for 2 weeks after he returned home. After our 2 week self imposed quarantine, we were both healthy and ready to tackle lockdown and Covid 19 life as a team together.

Healthy and ready to tackle this Pandemic as a team together! April 2020.

The future is optimistic and exciting, but let’s not forget the confines and struggles of this Covid 19 journey as we move forward and Carefully Conquer Covid.

The next blog posts will include more Nature, Canadian Animals, Exploration around Vancouver Island, Covid Wellness Strategies, Antics by Sophia, and Gardening. Stay safe and Keep on Smiling.