Wednesday, 24 August 2016



There has been a resurgence of interest in the Harry Potter franchise lately. Various books in the series are being read by 4 out of 6 citizens. All ages are reading them - and the ones that are not of reading age are playing with Harry Potter toys. 
Oskie playing Harry at Hogwarts
It is reminiscent of a time, many moons ago, when Lolli first read the Sorcerer's Stone and she had a Harry Potter party. And, even a decade before this party when Jen and Matt first read the Harry Potter books.
Lolli's bedside table
It is almost magical how Harry Potter has remained so popular over such a long period of time in the PUTP. The story is so well written, so creative, so imaginative, that minds off all kinds enjoy it...even obsess about it.
Journal found on Lolli's desk
The battered copy of The Philosopher's Stone has been read over and over and over and over and over and over (at least 10 times) by everyone over the age of 5.
Elli's first round with the old copy of The Philosopher's Stone
Matty just finished rereading it and commented, " really it magical, in a fun whimsical way...there is adventure, wit, humour, friendship, and the triumph of good over evil." No sooner had he turned the last page of book one he picked up book two.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016


The plant that asks for so little, yet gives so much.

The raspberry plant has been named the official plant of the Place Under The Pine. It is a plant that has given nourishment, piece of mind, and pride to the citizens of the PUTP - and in return it has asked for so little.
Congrats Raspberry
Seven years ago three small, gnarled, unspectacular looking stalks were plucked from a friend's garden. They were planted in the backyard in the only spot available at the time - a tiny gravel and clay patch right beside the fence (in 23.5 hours of shade to boot). This spot was so undesirable to plant life that grass would not even grow there! Yet, out of this lifeless plot the raspberry thrived; it spread; it filled with berries.
As the garden expanded so has the raspberry. There is a thick bush now where there was once three piddly stalks. The rogue shoots that pop up out of the garden have been transplanted - there is now a row of fruiting plants that line the wall along the front yard. There are plans to export surplus stalks to neighbours and friends who want to start their own raspberry patch.
This plant continues to delight not only the citizens of the PUTP, but, visitors. Earlier this summer a young visitor commented, while eating a handful of berries, "your backyard is so amazing - you grow your own food!'.
' amazing - you grow your own food'

Later when Elli retold this story he implied an increased sense of security knowing that we could "just eat raspberries if we ran out of food".
During every summer get-together our visitors pick tart raspberries and praise their taste. It is a real showpiece and source of pride for the citizens of the Place Under The Pine.

And, in return all this plant has ever asked for is a small cutting in the fall. 
Cutting day is fun for the entire family
 What an amazing plant.

Sunday, 24 July 2016



Garden committee experts are happily surprised every single year as the raspberries start to ripen. Other than the annual cutting in the fall very little is done for the raspberry bushes. There are no fertilizers added, no fancy soil aerating machines used, even regular watering is not done. It seems the more neglected the plants are, the more they thrive. This is a plant everyone needs to have in their garden. It takes very little yet gives so much. 
Every morning Lolli pops out to the garden to pick some raspberries to put atop of her yogurt.

The heat wave, combined with some added watering, has done wonders to the peas. They have become so big they are falling over and intertwining into neighbouring plants. 

Plump peas
The parsnips had a slow start, but, as of late have flourished. The garden committee is excited to see what is happening below the surface.

Pretty Parsnip
And, some late planting (beans found in the bottom of a junk drawer) of beans are starting to flower.

Blossoming beans
Fine times in the garden this week.

Thursday, 21 July 2016



Ready to rock
The earth is such an amazing place. The variety of rocks, plants, and animals to study and learn about is endless. The citizens of the PUTP love to learn about the earth by getting out into nature - seeing, touching, and getting dirty  - and even better if it involves sledgehammers! It is one thing to read about how the right conditions of a water molecule under tons of pressure at extremely high heat can make a diamond - and, it is another thing to smash a rock, see the sparkle, and pick out a shining gem. 

You may recall last year our family rockhounds, Uncle Al and Auntie Amber, brought some boulders to the Place Under The Pine and let the younger citizens smash them to bits in search of gems - click here. Well, recently the entire population of the PUTP took this geology lesson one step further and took a trip down to the rocky lands of northern New York, to the land of the Herkimer Diamond. They visited a site (just north of Herkimer, NY) rich in herkimer diamond deposits, a rustic site full of potentially diamond filled rocks - where one has to smash their way to treasures.
Our guides brought their special tools, safety equipment, and geological knowledge (look for the rocks with black holes in them) and we got started. It did not take long for us to find the gems we were looking for. 

Through the scorching heat, a mid afternoon thunderstorm, and the sore muscles that come with carrying heavy rocks and tools for hours on end, the citizens ended the day with smiles on their faces, great memories, and some unique rock knowledge. The day was so enjoyable that there is already a plan in place to visit the mine next year. 

You can watch the citizens in action in this video.

Friday, 24 June 2016




The bees are buzzing around the garden. It is a sight, and a sound, that brings a smile to the faces of most of the citizens of the PUTP. It means raspberries are only a week or two away. The bushes this year are overflowing with blossoms. Perhaps a combination of drastic cutting in the fall of older canes and extra rope supporting the canes this year has opened up the plant to allow more sunlight (and bees) to get in. The garden specialists will find out in a few weeks.

Baby raspberries are growing fast.
Below the bushes the kale is making great progress, it is a wonderful green and tall, and has already been mixed into a few salads.

Peas are a plant that has never been cultivated in the PUTP, but, even with the lack of experience with this plant the peas are stretching their tiny tendrils and quickly making their way up the jute and stick supports.

Another new addition to the garden is parsnips. There was some worry as parsnip seed germination takes up to three weeks. Germination this long is rare around these parts. It was thought that this crop failed to take root, until late last week when a few minuscule leaves broke the surface.

The East Garden is working out great. There have been no holes in the lawn or the vegetable garden since this rustic sandbox was put into use. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016



Father, Father, kids and kids
Father's Day was full of activity. The citizens of the PUTP packed up their fishing equipment and headed out to their secret fishing spot. They met Grampa out there, whom the children would describe as an 'expert angler' or more likely 'a man obsessed with all things fishing', and they set their hooks.

After an hour, and many fish caught, the activities changed from fishing to just playing in the water.

"It was nice to go fishing with the kids," said PUTP Father Matt, "it reminds me of when I was young and would go fishing with my Father." A tradition passed down through the generations continues in the PUTP.

Friday, 3 June 2016


Garden area increased

Kale is sprouting fast
Earlier this season the garden committee approved a project (the East Garden) to increase garden space by an additional 20 square feet (approx). This represents an additional 30% increase in overall gardening space. This big project took place over the long weekend. However, a long weekend was not required as the construction of the box took approx fifteen minutes and the supplies used were salvaged pieces of wood, from various other projects, that were headed for the landfill. It may not be the prettiest garden, but, it is expected to be productive...and it was free!

The East Garden - currently houses one dwarf cherry tree
This new garden, The East Garden, is to be a hybrid type of garden. One that serves two purposes. The second purpose is to grow additional vegetables and berries. The primary purpose is to prevent lawn destruction. Over the past several years the back lawn of the PUTP has been dug up many times. There are random divits and larger potholes scattered across the entire area. The hope is that those citizens of the PUTP that have a need to dig will do so in the new garden, thereby centralizing 'destruction' to this one area. This may be referred to as the 'rustic sandbox' in the future.

Toys to some, tools of destruction to others
Some of our young gardeners are spending time learning the ways of the plants. They are planting, watering, weeding and getting their hands dirty. One enthusiastic young garden pupil is constantly testing many of the age old gardening 'rules'. We often take some of these 'rules' as law and never think about questioning them. Which is why it is so refreshing to have young minds helping out in the garden. I can tell you that the age old rule that plants need leaves to live ... is true. The bean plants that recently sprouted appeared to be too leafy. Oskie removed the leaves to help out and ended up confirming the belief that leaves are an essential part of the plant. Hopefully, this lesson applies to all other plants and Oskie does not need to repeat the experiment to be satisfied with his initial results.

Bean plant without leaves
In the process of learning...and de-leafing bean seedlings.