Category Archives: Metta Kitty Farm

known & unknown.

(please pardon the blurred photos to follow – they are from 2009, taken on a flip phone, & are slowly being downloaded from my Facebook account which has served as a photo album between 2009 and 2014)  
I know how to see & recognize beauty in this world.

I try to expand this notion of beauty as a practice.

Sometimes I fall into rigidity, sometimes, I stretch this seeing.

I try to honor life in all forms.

Sometimes I fail to see my actions, sometimes I can be gentle with this life so-called outside.

It’s easier to encourage others, harder with myself.

(Don’t worry, Mom & Dad, I didn’t get another tattoo – it’s the forearm of an acquaintance)


But it’s great for me to see. 

I’ve written before that I tend to forget, which is why I write things down.

But what do you do when there’s an unknown to step into?

Like beginning graduate school

When telling yourself “I can do this” feels like a lie

Where does faith come from?

I lean on my friends when the voice of “who do you think you are?” presses on like a broken record.


They say things like: “have you talked back to that voice question? Tell it who you think you are!”

This has been helpful.

Plants, like this late Autum Sedum already sending buds forth before the long Winter, anticipating Spring.

I can learn a lot from plants.

I have learned a lot from plants & this world continues to be one of my greatest teachers.

So, I’ll keep on, like the sedum, beginning, again.

& heading in a direction…

…like the Red-Winged Blackbirds migrating…

With whatever is luck…

…and whatever is faith…

To challenge the voices, (or even simply turning my attention elsewhere, dropping the habitual thought, as suggested to me) 

Sensing the world 

And challenge myself to step into the unknown.

Garlic pull – Little.

My little bed of garlic turned out to be quite productive this year.

& while I intentionally planted “doubles” in order to get smaller bulbs (they keep better), well, they weren’t exactly smaller.

I’m not complaining… Just surprised, is all.

I wasn’t in my own garden much this year.

Work, depression, fatigue…

My gratitude for the rain that came, for the weeds which provided moisture retention, & the owners of the land who took off the scapes.

The Ukrainian & Romainian varieties yielded the most bulbs. 

Above are 52 stalks of the Ukrainian variety.

Quack grass roots. Hrumph. This will go into the cull pile to be eaten right away.

I’m digging my garlic late, & this is one of the reasons why getting garlic out of the ground in time is important: the garlic begins to sort of “grow out” from  its skin.

And the skin on the stem can separate from the bulb… 

Ah well.

Fortunately, there were only about 8 culled bulbs out of about 150.

That means plenty for seed, sharing, & through Winter & Spring!

Clinging to a buckwheat leaf wrapped around a garlic stalk was this gorgeous snowy moth.

I asked an ornithologist friend who is also a, um, moth-person which type of moth this was…

Virginian Tiger Moth!

Thank you garlic!

Thank you earth & elements!

& much gratitude &  thanks to all you readers who for whatever reason, brings you to this blog.

Potatoes are IN.

Yesterday I got to my garden.

I haven’t planted anything of my own since last Autumn when the garlic got in

They seem to be growing well

The folks who own the land planted the first 20 pounds of potatoes last week

This is the bed I set to plant in the remaining 25 pounds

Buckwheat was planted there last season

I’m not sure when it was last tilled, but this was a job for the push-hoe

My favorite hand tool!

Heart-shaped T-handled push-hoe, to be more precise 

 This is the view looking back down the bed after first swiping through

Then, I raked up the weeds.

Here’s what it looked like prior to push-hoeing… Before… & After. 


Yep. Love my push-hoe. 
Then, the wheel-hoe with the chisel-plow attachments to create two furrows where the potatoes will be set

Shoved & grunted my way through Quack Grass roots

That’s some strong medicine in those roots!


It’s also built for a taller frame, so it’s not the most ideal tool for this body.

But, it did the work to be done.

Time to fetch the potatoes & Potash



Three varieties left


Loaded up in the garden-way cart


…some Potash goodness for the potatoes dusted into the furrows

Thank you, Ocean

Starting with the variety Strawberry Paw


Some of the seed from this variety was larger than an egg, so they were cut so that at least two eyes remained on each piece

 Eyes, check.

 The phrase “snug as a bug in a rug” came to mind…


Onto the next variety

 I really like purple potatoes


Last, but not least… The German Butterball.

Quite a delicious potato.

All in!

Time to zip them up…



Potatoes are IN.

In the remaining 4 feet at the far end of the bed, I seeded two varieties of sunflowers.

It’s older seed… Hopefully they’ll germinate well.

It remains to be seen.

I forget how much I enjoy this work… 

It felt so good to tend to my garden.

Dry beans coming soon!


If you listen closely you can hear the onions sprout.

Right now
It apparently feels like 11degrees (Fahrenheit)

But with the light, and the turning of the year…

And when the furnace clicks off…

And if I’m very very still,
A tiny cracking sound can be heard…


Seed trials in Winter.

It’s currently 1degree outside



But in the kitchen corner…..

Marigold seeds are sprouting!!!

And so is the Dyer’s Coreopsis!!


Stirrings of what’s to come warms the heart from the inside

Seed Trials 2 – including Italian Flat Parsley.

While I did intend to grow parsley for seed last year by overwintering a flat of seedlings through Winter of 2013-2014
Over a dry spell this past season, while I was away, the parsley grown for eating got stressed & went to seed

A bit of a bummer
I eat a LOT of parsley
But, engh.
So lemons out of lemonade, parsley seed in 2014.

it got me to the farmer’s market more often to visit friends.

Here are the two jars of parsley seed soaking for the past two-ish days.
Both have been rinsed three times each.
Good sign that most of the seed has sunk to the bottom

A big thank you to Hudson Valley Seed Library for posting how to do this on their blog.
Check ’em out!
Support small local seed companies!!

Gather up the supplies:

Reused ziplock baggies
Masking tape
Sharpie marker
Paper towels

And seeds!

Batchelor’s Buttons, Dyer’s Coreopsis, Marigold, & Calendula

In addition to the Parsley

Strain the water (don’t save parsley water for germination – it has germination inhibitors)

Say hello & thank you to the seeds

Then in one swoop, knock the seeds out onto a quarter of the paper towel

Fold up into a quarter size, sandwiching the seeds between the paper towel folds

O I forgot to mention to have a small bowl of water nearby

You want to thoroughly wet the paper towel seed sandwich




Into the *labeled* baggie

Seal well

Home for the next two to three weeks

I repeated the same process for the cool-soaked parsley

Onto the flower seeds!

Easiest first

Beautiful & bizarre

They are relatively large

Follow the same process as the parsley seeds

The marigolds took a little time to process

There’s probably a more efficient way to have done this, but this is how it went down in the kitchen

Little by slow


It’s a very satisfying process

The seeds slide out easily

The seed capsule when dry is slightly translucent
So beautiful

Now for super slo-mo close-up 




They are very slim, flat and relatively long seeds

And the one I’ve been putting off
Dyer’s Coreopsis

This is only a fraction of what needs to be processed…

Upside is that it smells really fresh

Teeny tiny
AND flat

Plus a WHOLE lotta chaff
Which I’m not equipped to deal with

I grow this every year, so investing in the making or purchasing of seed harvest trays would be wise

It’s a generous plant

So 100 seeds will be tested


Last but not least, Batchelor’s Buttons

They are so cute with that tuft of fuzz

Not much seed, so only 20 in the trial

Good night everybody!


Seed trials & attempting to change a habit.

It’s that time of year

When the seed catalogs arrive one after another

This year, I decided to run some seed trials before placing orders

I still have a fair amount of seeds from when I was farming
But didn’t know if they were viable

Mammoth red rock cabbage gets composted
Zero germination


The alliums, which are said to only have a year viability, did stellar – no doubt due to being kept meticulously cool & dry in multiple baggies tucked in the refrigerator since 2012

Hell yes

Even the notoriously fussy shallots germinated well

Yes yes yes

Sierra Batavian lettuce did well

Alas the Concept Batavian goes to the compost

Scarlet Nantes carrots will be seeded in 2015

Shin Kuroda carrots did fair… Tempting to keep them & seed heavily when planting

May do one more trial with this carrot…

Was asked by a friend if I was testing the seeds I grew
And I hadn’t yet, but began today with the parsley


I guess I was nervous – it being the first time growing parsley for seed

I’m trying to pay attention to the thoughts in my mind
Since the habit of identifying with the thoughts is SO strong
I’m trying to be mindful of the thinking habits

I could see a procrastination fear habit right in plain sight
Fear of failure.
So don’t even try.
…like if I don’t test it, then I won’t know – that is, I won’t know they won’t germinate

But they might!

Thing is, even if they don’t germinate
I tried
And it was a fun experiment
And I can try again with seeds I purchase in 2015 if need be

Aren’t they so pretty?
With their stripes?

Parsley seeds are not the tiniest, but they are small

Handling the seeds released a wonderful bright smell
Bright & bitter

Let the parsley trials begin!

A quarter teaspoon to soak in hot water

And another quarter teaspoon in cool water

Double trial
Why not

The parsley seed coat contains a chemical which inhibits germination
So soaking the seeds (and changing the water twice) can take a week off of the three week germination period…

I wonder if fuanocoumarins could be a natural weed inhibitor…?

Lots of parsley seeds!

Onto a sheet of paper for ease of pouring…

Seed divination, anyone?

Using the composted seed’s envelopes

Thank you FedCo seeds of Maine


Hopi Black Dye Sunflower Seed dye & heartbeat.

My heart beats a bit faster
Just sitting here, tap tapping with the tip of my finger on the surface of the phone face
With the thoughts about the Hopi Black Dye Sunflower Seed dye.

Time is relative
Long, in terms of time, is relative

This is over four years coming
What I would call a long time coming

This Hopi Black Dye Sunflower Seed dye

I had tried to grow Hopi Black Dye Sunflowers each year since 2010,
finding the seed in the previous Winter

But various conditions occurred

Seeds didn’t germinate…
Seeds were disturbed & eaten by critters in the barn…
Young, tender plants munched down by critters in the field…
Running out of seed…
Trying again year after year with critter munching being the main decider.

Everybody’s hungry.

But this year


And for the past couple of weeks, with the preparations (and even writing this) I notice a sort of anxiety/excitement feeling in my heart

With each step closer

You ever want something so so much and the closer you get to it, the stronger the anxiety-feeling in your heart?

THAT feeling.

I’ve been trying to make room for this
(& all of the) feeling that blows through this organism

All of the Weathers

No matter what Moon phase

Trying to hold space for, to make room for all of the feelings to come through the pasture, so to speak.

Breathe, Marney

So this process, which has become precious, important, and I bring my attention & thanks to it

Honoring the heart-longing

And so, from seed to seeds

Allowing them to soak for two days in a pot of water

Brought to a boil, and simmered for 20 minutes

Then after sitting for two more days
(Thump thump thump goes the heart getting closer)

With the simple tools, and small stack of paper


It was at this point I considered putting down the phone/camera – out of concern that i could spill the dye…..


“…the greater the risk, the greater the glory…” ?!?!??

Not a lot of dye, so gotta try to get all the goodness…


All of it!!!

I found that if I put my fingers below the seed pile on the strainer, more liquid would flow through


There’s probably some law of Physics which explains this
But I never took physics, sadly

Yeah, this looks a bit post-Halloween-nails-creepy

Gettin’ wild in the kitchen…


Step by step




I had hoped to dye 24 sheets of paper
But it would have been squeezed, so decided to pause at 18 sheets


Settling in after some minutes

Thump thump thump
Goes the heart

Black walnut dye, continued.

The first time I remember really seeing a Black Walnut tree was about 15 years ago when I lived in a basement apartment in Brooklyn.

There was a massive Black Walnut tree in the back yard, and the owner of the building –
(who lived upstairs and who was very fond of trees)
– told the story how their neighbor would complain that the Black Walnut tree should be cut down

(Insert incredulous, knitted eyebrow look here)

There was this complaint, because what the neighbor was unaware of, was that Black Walnut trees are exceptionally late to leaf out in Spring & quite early to drop leaves in Autumn…

Otherwise known as: misunderstanding.

This is at the farm where I’ve been tending a garden this past season

Most of the Black Walnut trees along the roadside had already dropped their walnut hulls

…in their Autumn & Winter finery

Here’s the paper after a three-day soak in the dye bath

It’s possible to do a second dye but I’m going to go ahead with the Hopi Black Dye Sunflower seeds next

So time to drain the paper

Let it set tipped over a bit

Then turn upside down onto a towel

Thump the bottom as needed


Only two sheets left in the dye basin to peel out, carefully

(The abundance of liquid pooling here shows me that I could have let it sit a bit longer to drain)

Again, with care so as not to tear the soggy sheets of paper, peel one by one off the stack and lay out onto a towel to dry

And after a day of drying…

A beautiful small stack ready for use


Amateur seed saver.

My interest in seeds began over 20 years ago

I’m still an amateur seed saver.

Today I harvested some of the Batchelor’s Button seed heads for a friend

Got ’em out of the fancy paper bag which had been drying on the top of the refrigerator for the past couple of months…

And spread them out on a large black plate for easy seeing

Pulling the little tufted seeds away from the stalk

(There are probably technical terms for all of this…)

The shape of them reminds me of Beaker’s head

(Beaker, from the Muppet Show…)

The dark plates were from my parents’ former restaurant…
Makes for separating the seed from the chaff easy

Thanks, Mom & Dad!

(And there’s probably a faster way to do this… But I don’t mind it taking time…)

The Batchelor’s Buttons seeds are not the tiniest of seeds, but they are still relatively small


Paper tea bag pouches glued inside out make a very nice package

For the next season to come