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Harvest Time and Bulbs

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Harvest Time and Bulbs

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“Tickle it with a hoe and it will laugh into a harvest.”  English Saying


Every September I think about two major garden projects that transpire throughout the autumn season: harvesting and bulb buying.

Fall boasts a spectacular bounty of pears, Asian pears, grapes, apples, tomatoes, tangerines, blackberries, walnuts, kiwis, and more. The last of the peaches and nectarines are being picked while festivals celebrating the end of the fruit and vegetable collections transpire throughout the next two months across the United States. 

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We also kick off fall by thinking about what bulbs we’ll want to plant for spring. Alliums, daffodils, tulips, crocus, hyacinths, iris, snowdrops, muscari, and fritillaria top the lists of many gardeners. 


Let’s get started on this month’s workload! 

Fruit and Vegetables

What do we do with all the produce that is harvested? Besides eating your fruits and veggies fresh and raw, autumn is a plum time for canning, freezing, pickling, and drying the season’s extra yield to enjoy during the winter months when “fresh-picked” is not possible. Use a dehydrator to dry apples, peaches, tomatoes, and pears. Put grapes into an ice-cube tray, add water, and make grape cubes that are pretty and delicious in drinks. After cooling, freeze batches of various fruit sauces that have simmered in a pot with a dash of salt, sugar, honey, and/or vinegar. For canning and pickling, check online sources for simple recipes and make sure to follow the safety requirements. Making jams, jellies, pies, and chutneys is easy and fun, especially when you involve the kids. Next to Christmas, harvest time was always a favorite family experience when I was growing up.

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Although my vegetable garden did not return the abundance I had anticipated for the year, my fruit trees overcompensated. I’ve been slicing crunchy apples into salads, sauces, compotes, soups, and making crumbles, pies, and crisps. Peaches or nectarines with fresh cream is one of my favorite breakfast treats. For a refreshing and invigorating weekend cocktail that I call Sunday Sensation, try this beautiful and delicious combination. It can be made with or without alcohol.

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Sunday Sensation

In a clear pitcher, muddle cut pieces of peach and nectarine. Add slices of an orange, tangerine, and Meyer lemon. Stir in a shot glass of Campari or Aperol for an alcohol infused drink, add ice cubes, and top with sparkling wine or Champagne. For a virgin sensation, use a cup of orange juice topped with sparkling water or apple cider. Garnish with sprigs of basil and mint leaves. 


While you are enjoying your Sunday Sensation, it’s time to contemplate the bulbs and rhizomes you’ll plant this fall for a spring showcase. Bulbs can be planted mid to late fall in a sunny location with well-drained soil. Daffodils can be planted anytime and anywhere. They are especially great in areas where deer roam as the deer are repelled by them. There are so many varieties of tulips for early, mid-season, and late blooming that it may be best to peruse bulb catalogs to get an idea of the specimens that speak to you. All tulips will need six weeks of refrigeration before planting so it is doubly critical that you decide on what to buy now. For rock gardens and borders, you may be thrilled by Water Lily tulips that naturalize when left undisturbed. When you want exotic-looking tulips, consider the flamboyant Parrot or Peony flowering tulips. If you want to force flowering, single or double early tulips are the most well-known as well as Species and Triumph tulips.

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Forcing How-to:

Plant bulbs in well-draining pots in October, place them in the dark for 12-14 weeks while chilling at 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit. Gradually move pots to filtered sunlight to allow sprouting and acclimation. Water as needed. 

Ponder the Pollinators:

Happy bees stay in our gardens helping nature thrive. By planting bulbs in colors most attractive to the bees­­­­––blue, purple, white, and yellow––fresh food is provided for them after winter when they need it most. The best bulbs for bees are allium, anemone, camassia, corydalis, crocus, fritillaria, Galanthus, hyacinths, muscari, tulips, and scilla. 

Best Way to Plant Large Quantities:

Most people plant bulbs in groups of five to seven spaced six inches apart and buried four to five inches deep. However, if you want to create a bold and beautiful impact with large swatches of color, try trenching. You can mix bulbs or use one variety or one species.

Dig a long five-inch deep (or whatever depth the bulb packaging indicates) trench wherever you want to make your floral statement. It can be straight or made into a circle or pattern. Add soil amendments if your ground is clay and hard. Arrange a minimum of a hundred bulbs with the pointy side up. Cover area with soil and mulch. Water, wait, and WOW!

After blooms fade in the spring, cut the flower stalks to allow the bulbs to conserve energy for the next year while the foliage continues to flourish. 

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Hose Repair:

Every time I or my siblings telephoned my Mom during a summer or fall day, the first words out of her mouth were “I’m busy. I’m pulling hoses.”  That line became a code sentence for us whenever we were doing manual labor that others may not think was important, but what was critical to us. This past summer, to save water by not turning on my irrigation system, I found myself pulling actual hoses daily. By spot watering, I was able to water deeply and accurately, but it was arduous work pulling those heavy hoses. Several tore or broke during the process and I mended them, giving them new life. I have always repaired frayed or cut hoses and figured everyone repaired theirs when necessary. But then I saw a couple of hoses in the recycle bin area of a client’s yard with new hoses sitting next to the front faucets. They didn’t realize that hoses are easily repaired with inexpensive parts. If your hose is damaged, head to the hardware store to buy either a female or male coupling. If your hose is broken in the middle, you can buy a connector. Cut off the damaged hose part with a shear or sharp knife. Use a Philipps screwdriver to open the connector. Push the new female or male plug into the hose and tighten the connector with the screwdriver. Test the hose. It will be good as new. I tend to use more female couplings than males, so I always buy extras.

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Tickle your garden with a hoe and you’ll have a great harvest. Come visit me at the Pear and Wine Festival in Moraga at the Be the Star You Are!® charity booth on September 25th and pick up some free goodies. Laugh on!


Saturday, September 25th, Be the Star You Are!® will participate in the first live event at the Pear and Wine Festival with a booth sponsored by the Lamorinda Weekly(www.Lamorindaweekly.com) and MB Jessee painting (www.MBJessee.com). Wear your mask and visit us! Details at https://www.bethestaryouare.org/copy-of-events


Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1515/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian.html

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Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

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Buy copies of her books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings.

Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.



Digging Deep with Cynthia Brian – Harvest a Medicine Chest

Posted by Editor on
Digging Deep with Cynthia Brian – Harvest a Medicine Chest


“Flowers always make people better. Flowers are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul.” Luther Burbank

Whether you have a sore throat or a sore hip, your prescription for optimum health may be as close as your garden.  Since the dawn of humanity, even before recorded history, herbs and plants have been used for medicinal purposes. Ancient cultures including the Chinese and Egyptian documented on papyrus the benefits as early as 3000 B.C. One fourth of pharmaceutical drugs we find on the market today are derived from botanicals. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 80% of the earth’s population depend on herbal remedies as primary health care. 

The falling autumn leaves signal the beginning of the influenza season as most of us rush to our local internist or drug store for the updated flu shot. I have already been vaccinated and now am preparing my first aid kit with natural remedies from my garden pharmacy.  Many fruits, vegetables, herbs, seeds, and leaves that are growing in your garden can be harvested not only to be added to your dinner menu, but, to boost your immune system, clean wounds, calm bites, reduce fevers, and arrest pain. Always consult your physician before beginning any new regimen and of course, if you need medical attention, seek a physician.

Here is a short list of my favorite common specimens and the ailments they relieve. 

Mint: Spearmint, peppermint, hyssop, or any mint except pennyroyal (poisonous), is not only great for making your breath smell fresher, but is useful for soothing headaches, reducing fatigue, calming stomach aches, fighting nausea, and keeping colds and flu at bay.  For indigestion or diarrhea, chew on peppermint leaves. Nosh on mint raw, add it to salads, garnish dishes, or make mint tea. Mint is one of the wonder drugs.

Catnip: Besides making cats euphoric, catnip relieves cold symptoms, toothaches, flatulence, and breaks fevers. It is a member of the mint family, can be eaten raw or made into teas. Pregnant women should not consume catnip as it may induce contractions.

Rosemary: This Mediterranean herb is part of the mint family also. It’s called the “remembrance” plant because it improves circulation to the brain. The oil in the flowers act as antibacterial and anti-fungal agents. Add rosemary to meats on the barbecue grill.

Sage: The name says it all. Salvia, derived from the Latin, salvere, meaning to be saved. Sage is a lifesaver as it aids in multiple ways. Sage reduces diarrhea, relieves cramps, kills bacteria, minimizes inflammation, reduces swelling, and fights colds. Make a poultice or salve for cuts, burns, and bruises.

Red Clover: It may be growing in your lawn or you may use it as a cover crop.  The pink flowers can be made into a broth to ease coughs and colds.

Allium: Increase your intake of onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and chives not only for the aromatic culinary delights, but also if you suffer from arthritis, rheumatism, or joint pain. Researchers have found dialyl disulphide, a substance found in alliums inhibit enzymes that cause damage to joint protective cartilage.  Raw or cooked the delicious allium appear to boost your immune system. When we were kids, we even put a clove of garlic in our ears with a bit of olive oil to battle earaches. Garlic is reputed to keep vampires away, too.

Parsley: After a garlic infused meal, a bite of fresh parsley sprigs freshen your breath. Parsley also inhibits the secretion of histamines, which cause allergies and hay fever. A tea of parsley seeds or leaves is also helpful as a diuretic or laxative.

Dandelion: We all have dandelions sprouting somewhere in our gardens. Instead of cursing these tough weeds, embrace them as a nutritious addition to your diet to enhance the elimination of toxins. Dandelions may be used as a diuretic to help with PMS symptoms. Chop the leaves and add them to salads ramping up the intake of vitamin C and beta carotene.

Elderberry: Hippocrates named his elderberry tree a “medicine chest” in 400 BC. The blue/black berries made into jams, syrups, and wines are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, and iron.

Grape: Grind ripe grapes into a juice and drink without adding any other liquid to relieve migraines.

Winter savory: You use it to flavor stews, meat, and soups, but did you know that the leaves are effective antiseptics and also an ointment for insect bites and stings?

Lady fern: Roll some leaves in the palm of your hand and mash them to sooth minor burns, stings, and cuts.

Lavender: What is a garden without the soothing smell of lavender? Besides being a bee magnet, rubbing the flowers or leaves between your fingers then inhaling the fragrance is a sure stress reliever and tension liberator. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, lavender soothes the soul. Make a tea of lavender to induce sleep or use the petals in the bath as aromatherapy to bring on the calm.



Sunflower: It’s not just the seeds that are nutritious, but a tea made from the leaves works as an astringent, expectorant, and fever reducer. Use sunflower tea to treat colds and coughs. 

Aloe Vera: This is a plant that everyone must have around the house. For burns and minor abrasions, pop open a leaf and rub the jelly on the wound to keep it from getting infected. Aloe is a great mild laxative when added to water and alleviates heartburn and sunburn.

Cabbage: Crush a handful of leaves, wrap in a cloth, and apply to forehead as a compress to help with headaches. When the compressed leaves dry out, replace them with fresh leaves.

Lemon: I use every part of the lemon for a variety of health treatments. Before any speaking engagement, radio or TV appearance, I drink a hot concoction of Meyer lemon rinds, juice, and pulp mixed with mint, water, and honey to clear my throat and enhance my vocal chords. Feel a cold coming on? Drink this brew with added torn lemon leaves, shredded ginger root, and Echinacea flowers. To clean my hands after gardening, I cut a lemon and rub them over my dirt stained digits. Want lighter, brighter locks? Squeeze the juice of any lemon on your hair and enjoy the sunshine. Migraine? Grind the peel and apply as a paste to the forehead.

Chamomile: Use fresh or dried florets and leaves to making a tummy calming tea. Chamomile helps steady jittery nerves and anxiety.

Rose: The fruit of the rose is the rose hip, one of the richest plant sources of vitamin C, high in vitamin A, B, and the antioxidant lyopene. Eat raw, cooked, or brewed to prevent colds and flu as well as an anti-inflammatory to relieve the pain of arthritis. Use the petals of rose to make a lovely scented rose water for an astringent, skin toner, and body bath.

Apple: Filled with antioxidants, pectin, and fiber, apples fight tooth decay, decrease risk of diabetes, lower cholesterol, protect against Parkinson, cancers, and perhaps Alzheimer’s diseases, prevent cataracts, gallstones, and boost the immune system. An apple a day will keep the doctor away.

These are just a smattering of the plant based healing that you will find in nature’s drug store, also known, as your backyard garden. If the year was 1692 and I lived in Puritanical Salem, I’d be hung as a witch for prescribing these “devilish” herbal remedies. Since it’s 2013 in Lamorinda, I’ll keep stirring the cauldron of healthy natural choices and caution you to use these powerful potions wisely.

Happy Harvest. Happy Halloween Haunting. Happy Gardening and Growing.


Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.  
Cynthia will answer one or more questions every other issue as space allows. Email your comments or questions to Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com 
Cynthia Brian is the producer and host of StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® heard LIVE every Wednesday on the Voice America Empowerment Channel from 4-5pm PT at . More information is available at http://www.StarStyleRadio.com

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