Tag Archives: gardening

Winter, seedlings, ancient dogs, cats, & critter poop.

O Winter…

I’m so glad you were here.

In your gentleness, in your intensity, I’m glad you were here.

Your quiet beauty touches me so

And with the weather being what it’s been, I see you disappearing.

People are looking forward to Spring.

I will look forward to your return after the warm seasons.

This past Sunday, the warming weather & light brings on the seedlings

Well, that and the propane heater…

Many, many babies!

even some of the onions have begun to peek out of the soil.

Each week, more seeding is done.

About 40 trays this past Sunday

Including 8 trays of Spinach

The Spinach seeds remind me of Lupine seeds.

Which I first saw while living in the Mojave Desert.

I’d sit outside with Oni, my cat, sitting on my lap – he’d nap, & I’d collect prickly seeds (in a futile attempt to eradicate them from the yard) while the Lupines, at a certain time of the year, would quietly pop their pods, scattering their speckled seeds.

A little more grey, more flat, & speckled… Would be closer to Lupine. These seeds are Spinach.

Lots and lots of Spinach to come.

This dog is ancient.

His name is Bentley.

Who is nearly 100 or more in dog years. He loves his walks, especially in Winter, and dog biscuits.

We usually walk side by side in a fast clip, but since I had my phone/camera that day, I was lagging behind

And when I stopped to snap a photo, he stopped & looked back, as if to say: what the hell are you doing it’s walk time

Very serious, joyful business: walks.

He rolls & lays in the snow

Which always makes me laugh out loud in sympathetic joy

he sticks close as I peel off my coat & scarf… Then he gets a couple small biscuits 

This is the face after cookies, but showing his “cute ears face” because I’m a sucker, & he’s ancient, and to sort of quote Marcel the Shell, “it’s all about snoozin’ & treats” & he knows I’ll give him one more.

Champion napper.

Today I got to see Sophie & Izzy

(Photos by Jenny from the previous week)

Sophie is beautiful, no matter how ridiculous…

& Izzy wary & awakened by Sophie who may want to usurp the kitty bed…

It felt so good to be outside today

Walking a path back & forth, back & forth

Stacking wood

One of my favorite activities

Home was found

With two entry/exit ways burrowed into the snow bank

And poop

Keeping the inside tidy…

It was towards the middle top of this image…

I wrecked somebody’s bathroom.

The forsythia buds are swelling.

Farewell Winter. Thank you, I love you, please come back in October or November for another long visit…?

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


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


Garlic planting.

This past weekend, the folks who own the land where I’ve been keeping a garden and me planted our garlic.

It’s a bit earlier then I usually plant, since I had been planning on going away for the 2nd half of October – but that’s not happening now – so we went ahead anyways

The moon was in Taurus, which is good for root crops
And the plan was in place that we could simply relax into

So – garlic planting.

It was a beautiful day.

I love walking into the barn when the sun streams in…



Gotta turn off the electric fence…


And get the sorted garlic


Peg insisted on playing fetch throughout the day, which was a pleasure


Unfortunately & interestingly, I found that a number of the larger heads of garlic had some kind of sadness going on…

These were NOT used for seed garlic


Proof & Reason #634 that “bigger is not always better”

And it’s just one more experiment and something to notice with this land & soil… I made it a point to not space the garlic so far apart this time

Intentionally growing for smaller heads of garlic, and see what that yields next season…

Smaller heads keep better, anyhow

It’s exciting already…
Something to look forward to in July…


So instead of two rows per bed, I put in three.

Cracked the garlic

And dusted in some Fertrell


Which both feeds the garlic & amends the soil with some slow releasing rock dusts


In goes the garlic cloves


Four varieties of Rocambole, which came out to about 150 cloves


All in bed

Ready to zip up the rows


And add a thick blanket of mulch


Slow going, it was loose spoiled hay which was in the barn
So back and forth


The pile of hay in the barn


With the elegant and formidable spider web near by


A friend came by
Helping with the rest of the mulching

Back & forth…

Each time the sheep would come over
I would tell them that they didn’t want this hay, as it had spoiled

Or maybe they wanted carrot tops…?


“Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid”


(Little by little the bird builds its nest)


It was sunny & cool, but all the back and forth warmed the body, allowing for peeling to happen


The bumblebees were out on the marigold
I harvested some of the seed heads for next year


And one of the Batchelor’s Button flowers came out pink!

Not sure if it will make it too seed stage before a hard frost comes, but I’ll keep a watch on it


I have no idea why, but often when I go to pee, the sheep will follow me & watch


So curious.


And so the continuation, unbroken line of seed saving & planting through time

And thus begins the next growing season

Blessings on all things

In the garden before work.

Had an early morning before work today
Got myself to the garden

The honeybees were already absorbed in their work among the buckwheat blossoms

I set out to harvest the dry beans
Because they were beginning to show signs of mold


This is NOT what a healthy bean looks like…

And as I pulled the plants out from the garden, there was this familiar track of thoughts running through my mind…
“Next year, I’m gonna thin the beans better… Be more on top of the weeds… Etc…”

(Squinchy face)

And so began the Thinking dance

Present… Future… Story… Present…
Present… Future… Story… Present….

(Waltz, anyone?)

It was my first go at growing dry beans
And from the mold I did learn that spacing DOES make a difference.
And yes, it has been quite rainy this season…
I’ve got some good information from this one season of trying something new

I love that about gardening
Experiential learning

I have no idea what the yield will be.
Time will tell after drying in the greenhouse

There are two varieties

Vermont Cranberry

And Marfax

One of the landowners was out in their garden and she gifted me one of the small Italian squashes – this one goes by the name Tromboncino

Serious, this is one of the small ones…


Then back out to the garden to pick a few carrots

(Should’ve taken a bucket with me, but a shirt will do in a pinch…)
A few more sunflower portraits, then off to work


Tending a garden – Late Summer 2014

I really enjoy tending and keeping a vegetable garden.

I’m fortunate to be given a few beds at the place where I farmed back in 2009.
The owners put in a cover crop of buckwheat
which is covered in blossoms ( & therefore honeybees) in the above photo
The hum of the bees & the now constant cricket song are a soothing sound to work by

It’s a lovely place
And while it’s often difficult for me to motivate myself to drive there
(“Jeez I’m using gas again, using the car again, I just got home from work, what if it’s too hot, etcetcetc…)
I never regret going, once I’m there
(Why do I forget this?!?)
It’s tricky for me to find a balance between effort and doing, and impact & nourishment…

Yesterday it was sunny & warm, but not too hot, thankfully
And so I set about weeding the many weeds which are growing quite well with all the rain we’ve had this season
But it’s good soil, and some of the intended, cultivated flowers & vegetables have also thrived


Coreopsis for dye & cut flowers

Strawflower for offerings

And one of the Blue Hubbards has sized up nicely (and has not been munched out by slugs)

Beets & carrots, two varieties each, are doing well
Had a taste test of the carrots with some friends last night
That was fun

Sunflowers for the spirit, bee food, seed, and dye

I love harvesting carrots, because the tops I give to the sheep
O I love the sheep
They are so sweet


It makes sense to me, keeping sheep…
The eat the weeds, they provide poop for a robust compost pile, and wool, and even meat or milk if one wanted.
I enjoy their company, their gentleness.

One day, still, I hope to have my own garden nearby where I live
Just outside, a short walk away.
Till then, I’ll continue to drive to the garden
Tending it is good medicine
And feeds me in many ways, and other beings too.
May I never learn how to garden for one.


internet, loneliness, & rambling about missing my elder

okay i know i’m not supposed to say this


i don’t feel any less lonely than usual now that i have internet


(April 3rd, o yes)

perhaps this is a DUH sort of thing

i guess i had it in my head that something radical would shift once the internet was up and working


but the truth is

i kinda liked having to ask my elder to use his computer

i like being all braided up with others


i do

i need people.

for better or for worse, i do.

i feel at a loss without being braided up with others.

the loneliness gets too big without the connections.


i kinda liked not thinking about email, Facebook, etc. for a while.

i kinda liked going for a week between email checkings, only to find that i hadn’t missed any important emails (because i don’t really get that many important emails…)

i liked asking to use someone else’s computer… sharing.


sure, i got behind on reading blogs

and i was off of Facebook for a month


i wrote letters

i’ve been settling in to my new home


(passion flower was happy for the new window)

going for walks



been on Grand Jury duty

i don’t recommend it if you happen to not like watching crime drama in media…


i go each week and watch & listen to cases being presented in ways where i honestly just want to cover my face and stick my fingers in my ears and go LALALALALALALA


“it could be worse”

a mantra i learned from my elder


who i miss deeply


who i think of every day


she’s in every flower i see blooming


every twittering bird


in the outfits i wear



i do hope

to be so lucky

to love someone in such a way through time

that when the Time comes for them to go


that i’ll feel a sheet-sized tear in my heart


“we’re such lucky, lucky people”

(another anchor mantra)

the last day i saw her


she said to me to make sure i posted it

i don’t know what “it” was or is

so i’ll just keep posting things

it just wasn’t the time to say “what?”

it was just a time to say i love you

to say good bye

to say thank you


after Jury duty i go to the farm where i’m keeping a garden this season

and it’s so helpful.


from a spinning top i become calm, happy, content.

my elder would have wanted Blue Hubbard squash – so i’ll be planting that for sure.

even if she’s not around to eat it.


her memorial service was lovely

so much beauty




facets of her that i never knew about, revealed in the telling of story

such a generosity

lots of food






i think of elephants

their ways of mourning

we’re all not so different, really.