Wednesday, 15 January 2014



Ministry of Urban Agriculture 
Update 1.4_2013/2014

Ice coated raspberries
The growing season is officially over. Local experts have concluded that once the brussel sprout plant falls over and ice encrusts the late season raspberries there is no chance of anything edible coming out of the garden until next spring.


Students admiring the Brussel Sprout

The Ministry of Urban Agriculture is extremely happy with the quality and quantity of this year's yields. In addition, the Dirty Hands program was well attended by two gifted students who put a lot of time an energy into all aspects of the farming process. One keen student (shown in picture) is even considering a future career in lawn maintenance, gardening, and snow plowing. The Dirty Hands program is to continue next year with the same mandate of educating the youth of The Place Under the Pines on all topics concerning urban farming. Attendance will be increasing to three.


    • Yellow - 13
    • Green - 3
  • BRUSSELS SPROUTS - 4 quarts
  • EGGPLANT - 3
  • LETTUCE - 8 Bowls
  • MELON - 1
  • RASPBERRIES - 13 cups
    • Cherry - 80
    • Heirloom - 11
  • ZUCCHINI - 26

Breakdown analysis - per produce

The lack of beans this year was intentional. Previous years crops have gone into the freezer to die a slow death by freezer burn. The 2013 crop was planted for educational purposes and research. It is generally accepted that beans increase the nitrogen level in the ground, therefore, instead of leaving the soil bare the beans were planted as cover and as a nitrogen booster for the other plants. On the budgetary side this was a no cost activity as beans saved from previous years (as far back as 2011) were used.

2013's MVP of the garden. This year's BS plant was not only visually dramatic but also filled a four quart basket with delicious, nutritious, goodness. By the end of the season the broad leaves of the BS plant dominated the bottom corner of the garden and brought 'oohs' & 'ahhs' from neighbors and relatives that would come by for a look. The first, and unfortunately only harvest, took place on Thanksgiving day and the sprouts were roasted as a side dish to the Turkey Dinner at the in-laws house. The consensus was unanimous - best brussel sprouts ever! This plant will be making a return in 2014, maybe in a pair.

Eggplant flower
Three eggplants

The first year eggplant has grown on the PUTPs property, and was considered a resounding success story. Preliminary research indicated eggplants were finicky plants that were hard to grow and even harder to successfully bear fruit. Our official stats on eggplants were three, but, in reality there were five fruits that grew to an edible size. However, two fell victim to slugs and rot as the plant, weighted down by the fruit, leaned over too far. Techniques to prevent eggplant topple include specially designed hammocks to hold the eggplants or the ever popular caging (ie tomato cages). If eggplants are included in future crop rotations these techniques will be further investigated. As a delightful side effect, the flower of the eggplant brought some colour and beauty to a somewhat utilitarian-looking garden.

'Bowls' is the measurement unit that is officially being adopted by the PUPTMOA Stats committee. This is due to the varied size and shape of each lettuce leaf and the amount cut per harvest. A standard cup measurement seemed too small, yet a gallon was too large. Bowls is approximately two cups, two and half cups, experts concluded. This was PUTPs second year of growing lettuce and again it grew with outstanding results. Grown in a very short period of time, maybe a month, and early on in the season make this plant very popular around these parts. Attempts at successive planting were marginally successful with the early spring harvest making up 90% of the total consumed crop with the remaining 10% grazed on during the mid and late summer. Next years plants are to be grown longer and larger to increase production on a per inch basis.

The melon patch was considered a failure early on in the season. Out of the four transplants three of them were hacked to bits by a wild hoeing incident, with the fourth looking very ragged. However, the remaining plant made a resounding recovery and bore one good sized melon. Further melons were forming, however, the first frost ended the plants life rather quickly. There was some debate on the flavour of the melon, with the younger half of the population giving it a 'like', while the older demographic giving it a 'not like'. Due to space limitations and low yield per inch the melon will not be grown in 2014.

The raspberry patch was again a major crop for the PUTP's. This perennial favourite fed the mouths of young pickers in the early months of summer and will continue to provide throughout the winter in the form of jam. This year 4 jars of raspberry jam were produced, the first year the PUTP's has processed the raspberry crop into jam. The remaining berries were mostly eaten 'raw', fresh from the plant, still warm from the sun.

Two strawberry plants were added to the line up of crops this year and were considered an overall success. The stats on this plant, 13 strawberries, is not completely accurate. Many more berries grew, but, upwards of two thirds were nibbled on by wildlife (birds or mice) and therefore, not fit for human consumption. Predictions are that the plants will flourish again next year, and the MOA may invest in some netting to keep pests away.

PUTP Orange Heirloom Tomato
The tomato crop this year was outstanding. A bumper crop is not always the best thing for a small place like the PUTP. There were more cherry tomatoes than the citizens of the PUTP could consume and some had to be disposed of. As well, a small uncounted amount were still on the dying stalks at the end of the season, left to be mulched back into the soil. The almost dozen heirloom tomatoes also faced a similar story. The local supply did not meet the local demand and some of the tomatoes sat too long to be edible. This has brought up the case for international trade with other vegetable producing places. The Ministry of Trade is looking into a potential trade deal in 2014.
On a brighter note, the heirloom tomatoes won awards for best tasting tomato and have encouraged the MOA to save the seeds and attempt replanting in 2014. 

Another plant that had a bumper crop. But, instead of following the fate of the tomato, all 26 harvested zucchinis were used. For weeks in the summer of 2013 the PUTP was overwhelmed with these soft squashes. But, the citizens were up for the challenge of consuming them all and found many ways to do so. Roasted, Barbequed, Fried, Zucchini Bread, Muffins, and lastly grated and frozen for future use in baking. The growing and using of this plant was so successful there is a motion to organize a Zucchini festival in future years to praise this wonderful plant.

For previous 'Dirty Hands' updates see links below
Update 1