Wednesday, 27 February 2013



Ministry of Urban Agriculture

This report provides a summary of last year's agricultural output as well as future land use.

The mandate of The Ministry of Urban Agriculture is both to spread the knowledge of growing food and encouraging the PUTP to become less reliant on food imports. 2012 was another successful year for both food production and knowledge building. Approx 1-2% of total food consumption was grown locally.

Outside of the PUTP 2012 was a devastating year for farmers in the area due to record low levels of rain and many hot spells. We are happy to report that the PUTP was not as affected as many other producers. In fact, we had a bountiful harvest, especially in the area of Tomatoes.

  • Tomatoes - 10 freezer bags
  • Yellow Beans - 2 freezer bags
  • Raspberries - *20-30 cups
  • Lettuce - *10-15 cups
  • Green Beans - *5-10 cups
  • Strawberries - *5-10 berries
  • Onions - 0
*estimated amounts. Measuring standards were not routinely employed in 2012 and much of the output was consumed right off the plant.

2011 output numbers were 30% to 40% less in most categories, except raspberry production where it was similar.
This increase in output is being attributed to the long term strategy the Ministry has employed over the past six years. The starting point of this plan, the summer of 2007, found the 'Backyard' in very poor condition. Soil was classified as 'rock hard clay' or 'almost cement'. Available land was in the range of 100-150 square feet. Plans were made to increase cultivable land and substantially upgrade the fertility of the soil.
The 'set up' of the Backyard was changed drastically in 2008 and 2009, opening up more land to use for food production. A strategy of mixed planting, both perennials and annual plants, was put into place at the same time - three raspberry root stalks were planted on the western edge of the backyard. Soil conditioning has been an ongoing project with additional bags of 'top soil' and manure added each spring, and a constant feed of other organic compostables. This mainly consists of grass clippings in the summer months and a layer of leaves in the fall. Additional inputs of coffee grounds and egg shells are routinely added as well. Experimental treatments of unproven methods* are tried on an ad hoc basis.
*Water from boiled vegetables, including carrots and/or corn on the cob.
Since that time land under cultivation has increased by fourfold to approx. 480 square feet and soil conditions are good to excellent. 
Changes in 2012, including installation of a fence around the border of PUTP, have made it possible to shift the 'garden' out of the shade of the house into an area with increased sunshine. Also, newly turned over land is expected to be rich with nutrients and growing potential. As well, past experimentation with planting has given us the knowledge to know what will flourish and what the citizens of PUTP will consume. All of these things in combination should lead to larger yields in 2013.
In contrast, a new program aimed at containing the raspberry bushes may decrease berry production in 2013, but, is predicted to increase yields (and esthetic appeal) in the years to come. 
Other long term ideas yet to be implemented include bringing part of the 'Frontyard' into production. Again, poor soil conditions and a giant pine tree inhibit much from growing in this area. Preliminary research has suggested a blue berry bush may be able to survive, and possibly thrive, under such conditions. This may be put into action in 2013 or 2014. Other ideas for fruit or nut trees are on the agenda and may at some point be looked into further.

Monday, 25 February 2013



Pine Tree Post | February 2013

Reading has always been a gauge in the Place Under The Pines. When times are busy reading levels tend to drop, just as when leisure time increase reading levels tend to shoot up.
The year 2012 was a boom year, with countless childrens books read, and around 120 novels finished (80-90 by Jen, 40-50 by Matt). However, a recent reading survey shows 2013 amounts are well shy of last year's record high. Prominent reader Matt comments,
"In the past month I finished one good sized novel, see my review here , which I felt was pretty quick, 'specially considering we just had a new baby in January.
Before our first was born, I read A Song of Fire and Ice series (aka The Game of Thrones books), thousands of pages in a month or two. After O was born, I don't recall finishing even a slim book for half a year or more."

The younger generation have kept their pages turning as their passion (and ability) for reading continues to grow exponentially. A milestone was hit the other day as E made it through his first 'chapter' book. It was Fern the Green Fairy.
E's First Chapter Book
These Rainbow Magic fairy books were a staple in the PUTP about two years ago. Dozens of these books were borrowed from the library and picked up at thrift sales.
It only took two days to go cover to cover on this one since E seemed captivated by the story. He could easily recall the plot and characters and is very interested in continuing the series*. 
*Update - Wednesday another Rainbow Magic fair book was taken out of the library.

Another recent read that was given high reviews was, Molly's Organic Farm.
 A simple book that introduces children to some complex ideas around organic farming, such as natural pest removal, companion planting, composting, and such.
This type of book is part of the PUTP supplementary education program (agricultural division) where the young are trained both in theory and hands on training in urban agriculture.
This book was read in coordination with the 2013 garden planning session, as well as on the heels of the PUTP land use report.

It is hard to tell just how the year will turn out. Reading volumes are expected to increase over the next few month, but, an exact date on when reading levels will return to 'normal' for the older folk is hard to pin down.

8:00 | Kingston

Saturday, 16 February 2013



Pine Tree Post  | AP | JANUARY 2014
The Population of the Place Under The Pine has grown by 20%! A new boy was born earlier this month, making a fifth person living in the PUTP. Currently, this new citizen is going by the name 'Oskie'.
This new addition was expected to bring more nightly noise complaints, but, luckily that prediction has not come true. The expected increase in laundry has come about. The noise of the washer and dryer can now be heard at all time of the day and night. As well, hampers full of laundry have been reported in all areas of the house.
The gross national income has decreased dramatically as outside work has dwindled. This trend is forecasted to last the next three months. To further worsen the trade deficit with the outside world, coffee imports have dramatically increase, doubling in the past week. To mitigate this negative situation the aroma of fresh brewed coffee is always in the air, causing a general good feeling throughout the citizens of PUTP.
Overall happiness is at an all-time high, further proving that love is stronger than money.

9:01am | Kingston