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Hauling Harvests and Haunting Halloween By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Hauling Harvests and Haunting Halloween By Cynthia Brian

 

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

October proclaims two main events: harvest and Halloween.
grape harvest by hilary.jpg - 1
It’s been several decades since I’ve worked in our vineyards picking grapes. As a child I drove tractor, plowed fields, and watered the new vineyards vine by vine driving a refitted vintage fire truck with one sibling opening the water valve as we slowly rolled through the rows. Once September and October arrived, the grape harvest began.  Crews of eight workers, including myself, combed every vine with our specially curved knife quickly dropping bunches of ripe berries into the lugs which would be dumped into big bins on the grape trailer. When the truck and trailer had a full load, we’d ride with my Dad to the wineries for the delivery. We all loved being with our Dad hauling the grapes to their wine destination. Although we worked on numerous neighboring farms harvesting, culling, or cutting peaches, apricots, and pears, none of us were fans of the grape picking process. Because of the dearth of available pickers, a couple of years ago my brother invested in a mechanical harvester. This week, on the final night of the cabernet sauvignon harvest, I rode along with my brother and nephew as the huge harvester and four men did the work of six crews with precision and speed. (Instead of picking during the heat of the day, the harvester allows harvesting at night into the early morning hours when it is cooler.) Although we still have several acres that are hand picked, I hollered “hallelujah” to this happy mechanical harvesting experience.

Freddie, Cyn, fred, Harvesting
Lamorinda boasts a rich grape growing precedent with a 130 year-old history. The Lamorinda Wine Growers Association, (www.LamorindaWineGrowers.com) dedicated to sustainable farming and community building, is re-establishing the areas love of the vine and wine along with our pleasant pear past.  Lamorinda is now a recognized wine region with it’s own viticulture appellation thanks to the hard work of the Lamorinda Wine Growers Association. The varietals grown throughout Lafayette, Orinda, and Moraga span the French Bordeaux area with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Merlot to the Rhone regions’ Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Viognier. Burgundy is represented by the Pinot Noir grape and Lamorindans also grow small amounts of Sangiovese and Chardonnay. Because the plots are small, grapes are hand picked. A mechanical harvester has not become a necessary piece of equipment…yet. I’m hoping that 2016 will be heralded as a prime vintage year.
mums ready to bloom
Preparing for Halloween, it’s time to harvest the pumpkins, gourds, and winter squash. If you don’t grow your own, you’ll find funky as well as colorful pumpkins at the local Farmer’s Market and even many of the grocery stores. Apples and Asian pears are still hanging from the trees awaiting their reaper. Find a recipe for making caramel or candied apples to enjoy an old fashioned treat. Cut your corn stalks to use in decorations and buy a hay bale to add to the décor. You can later use the hay to cover your newly planted vegetable patch. The hay mulch will keep most weeds from emerging as the ghosts, ghouls, and goblins begin their rampage.

It’s time to howl at the moon with a glass of Lamorinda produced wine!  Enjoy a grape adventure!
lizard sunning on rock
Mid Month Gardening Tips from Cynthia Brian
The next two months are busy ones in the garden as we prepare our beds for a winter’s sleep. Chrysanthemums will be displaying their full glory soon, a certain beacon of the blazing fall colors to follow.  Get out there and get it done now.

FERTILIZE lawns during the rain for faster absorption. Don’t forget to re-seed during these wet days as well.
PULL any weeds you find in your garden before they develop seed heads.
CREATE a sunflower arch for a festive October wine fest.
PLANT a variety of lettuces in a window box or container kept close to your kitchen to keep your salads fresh all season Clip the micro greens as they sprout for delicate, delicious delights.
REPAIR birdhouses so that overwintering birds such as bluebirds, chickadees, and nuthatches will have a warm, safe, cozy place to rest during the upcoming cold nights.
INCREASE bird feeders in your yard as birds consume more food in fall and winter.
TUNE up your garden by pruning back overgrown shrubs and adding three or five New Zealand flax for their spiky form and variegated colors.
DIG and divide iris rhizomes now. Make sure to keep a few inches of the leaves on the stems and bury the roots two inches deep, eighteen to twenty inches apart.
WATCH the antics of the lizards as they sun themselves on rocks during these final days of warmth.
STOP watering remaining summer crops to force your final produce to ripen.
PRUNE your berry bushes, including summer raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries by removing dead canes. Thin any new forming canes.
AMEND your hard clay soil with large amounts of compost.
MULCH with wood chips to prevent erosion and maintain temperate soil temperatures.
MAKE a beautiful arrangement of fall flowers and foliage snipped from your trees and bushes.
FREEZE or can your vine tomatoes before the rains rot them.
ENROLL in a course on edible gardening, native plants, or composting.
PROPOGATE perennials through root cuttings.
INDULGE in forest bathing…or just take a walk in nature.
SAVE seeds from your favorite annuals, herbs, and vegetables by gathering, drying, labeling, and storing.
HARVEST the remainder of ripe produce before the end of the month-apples, Asian Pears, peppers, Swiss chard.
IMPROVE your health by enjoying grapes, apples, pears, pumpkins, and squash.
ROAST seeds from squash and pumpkins by first cleaning, drying, soaking in salted water, then, baking at 375 degrees until golden brown. What a healthy snack!
TIE dried corn stalks together to add to your front door fall décor.
hosta-coralbells-heuchera
Happy Gardening, Happy Growing, Happy Harvested Halloween!

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Chorisia-pink silk floss tree
©2016
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
StarStyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.

Awaken in a Healing Garden By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Awaken in a Healing Garden By Cynthia Brian

“Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” ~ Carl Jung
front-porch-with-flowers
We celebrate joyous occasions such as weddings, childbirths, and career moves with flowers. In sadder times or with the death of a loved one, plants and bouquets offer hope to meet the challenges.

Since the beginning of time nature has been the secret weapon of humans to combat dis-ease. From the ancient Chinese with their medicinal herbs, to the Greeks and Romans with their gardens set amongst mineral pools, green has been a sacred color. The Quakers in Colonial America believed that gardens were a place of creativity and relaxation for the body, mind, and spirit. At Philadelphia’s Friends Hospital in 1879 a program to use plants as therapy was established after a physician noticed that his psychiatric patients who worked in the fields were calmer. The gardens were curative.
drying-fennel-seeds
If you are feeling burned out from all the emails in your inbox, a quick boost of energy awaits you with a brisk walk in nature. Scientific studies now back up what gardeners have known forever-spending time outdoors is therapeutic! Since the 1980’s, the Forest Agency of Japan has been encouraging citizens to indulge in what’s called “forest bathing” or shinrin-yoku to lower stress and increase wellbeing. Researchers at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo believe that technological distractions, city noises, pollution, and crowding lead to anxiety and ill health whereas the quiet atmosphere, aromatic smells, fresh clean air, and beautiful surroundings of nature provide relief for heart disease, cancer, anxiety, depression, attention deficit, and other disorders. A University of Michigan study discovered that individuals improved their short-term memory by 20% after a nature walk but those who walked on city streets had no improvement.

Although our Indian summer is in full swing with sometimes three digit daytime temperatures (and the possibility of being the warmest October in our history), the evenings are temperate, perfect for a stroll. The medicine of nature awakens our five senses allowing us to decompress. Bringing the natural world into your indoor environment is equally critical to good health.
hydrangea-close-up
Begin to create your own garden of healing and inspiration by incorporating these simple elements. Dream, awaken, and heal this autumn.

⎫ Make the choice for clean, healthy living. We have the ability to grow our own food no matter how small our living space. For indoor gardening experiment with grow lights or hydroponic measures.
⎫ Plant an herb garden that is easily accessible to your kitchen. Not only do herbs flavor food, herbs are healers. Their natural medicine can be used to increase energy, fight colds, relieve pain, and quiet the mind. Herbs can be grown on windowsills, too. Lavender will help you sleep, peppermint curbs an appetite, rosemary increases cognitive skills, chamomile soothes upset tummies, and basil is a disinfectant.
⎫ Encourage your children to join in garden activities that relate to healthy eating. Gardening lures children away from a sedentary lifestyle while they are learning about biology and nutrition. Let them plant, pick, and plate.
⎫ Minimize the harmful effects of UV rays by enjoying the shade of a tree. According to the University of Purdue, sitting under the umbrella of a tree is the equivalent of slathering yourself with SPF 10. Make sure your property has a tree or two as sun protectors.
⎫ Bring plants to your office to create a healthier happier workspace. Plants have been proven to increase productivity.
⎫ Create boundaries and define personal spaces with plants and hedges. We all need  downtime to rejuvenate.
⎫ To maximize a small space, grow low-maintenance, compact blueberry bushes with multiple herbs and leafy greens in one large container for a continuous harvest. As a bonus, basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, chives, lavender, lemon balm, mint, and other fragrant herbs repel insects.
⎫ Clean, healthy gardening means no pesticides, insecticides, synthetic fertilizers, nor GMO seeds. We want to ensure the health of people, pets, and our planet.
⎫ Take a class or workshop to help you grow your knowledge about living in nature.
⎫ Encourage lizards and bats to take up residence. The western fence lizard carries a protein that destroys the Borrelia bacteria that resides in the stomachs of ticks carrying Lyme disease, and bats eat 6000-8000 mosquitoes nightly. Other pluses are that lizards eat lots of unwanted garden insects and bats are pollinators.
⎫ Install a water feature. Moving water contains high levels of negative ions thought to reduce depression and other anxiety disorders.
⎫ Grow plants that make you happy. If you like lots of color, consider annuals like zinnias and sunflowers. If you like blooming shrubs, hydrangeas, azaleas, rhododendrons are winning choices.
⎫ Include a place to sit and retreat in a private place. Installing a hammock is a rocking way to enjoy the beauty beneath the trees.
⎫ Add a focal point for healing. This could be a sculpture, a rock, or the fountain.
⎫ Stimulate all the senses with scented plants along a walkway for smell, a wind chime under an awning to listen, leaves to taste, textural plants to feel, and birds to watch.
⎫ Attract the pollinators-birds, bees, butterflies, and other insects for their remedial energy. Hang feeders, houses, and water sources, and, of course, add nectar supplying plants including Echinacea, butterfly bush, salvias, dill, and parsley.

asian pearsapples on tree
⎫ Eat an apple a day, hopefully one from your own tree. Apple’s are a super food filled with fiber, antioxidants, and flavanoids. Research suggests prevention or improvement of/from numerous conditions including diabetes, stoke, dementia, obesity, cancer, and heart disease.
⎫ Save the seeds of your best producing flowers and herbs. Drying them and storing them in a dark, cool place is the easiest way, although with tomatoes and some other “juicy” specimens, you will need to access specialized information for seed preserving.
⎫ Prune heart risk by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and grow bones with 30 minutes exercising and weight training in your backyard. You’ll clip calories with the pruning, weeding, lifting, mowing, blowing, and planting.

babys-breath-asian-ornament
Finally, no matter how busy your everyday life is, do some of the garden work yourself. In our neighborhoods, people tend to hire outside help for everything, but if you really want to indulge in the free wellness program designed by Mother Nature, it’s in your best interest to get out there and dig deeply.

Take a cue from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“When I go into my garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands.”  
gurgling zen garden
October Garden Thoughts from Cynthia Brian

⎫ MIMIC Mother Nature by scattering wildflower seeds in fall for a spring showcase.
⎫ PRE-COOL tulip bulbs for a minimum of four weeks and preferably ten weeks before planting. Make sure to cool in a refrigerator at 38-45 degrees Fahrenheit without any fruit or vegetables that emit ethylene gas, such as apples.  Other bulbs like to be stored in an area with good air circulation, low humidity, and away from sunlight with temperatures in the 50-7- degree F range.
⎫ DID you know that sunflowers track the sun? Mature sunflowers will tip their heads toward the east warming the flowers more quickly bringing five times the number of pollinators. Save those seeds! (UC Davis study)
⎫ OVER SEED lawns right before the rains come. I am using Pearl’s Premium organic seed and am very happy with the results. Follow directions on the package. www.PearlsPremium.com.

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

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cynthia-in-fern-grotto

©2016
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.  

Autumn Accord By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Autumn Accord By Cynthia Brian

cyn-0cu

Autumn is the hush before winter. ~French Proverb

Having spent autumns in France, I attribute a portion of this year’s love for fall to my past travel experiences of quiet beauty in the yellowing vineyards, the crisp, cool mornings walking through fields sipping a café au lait, and the warming scents of seasoned firewood burning in evening hearths beckoning me to dine on the produce of the day. Autumn is harvest time here in California with the bounty of grapes, walnuts, apples, and pears ripe and ready. The last bushels of tomatoes, corn, eggplant, peppers, and summer squash are making their way to kitchen tables and to outdoor grills as we all enjoy the final hours of sunshine and patio parties. The days are shortening, the nights are lengthening, leaves are turning amber, umber, and orange as we herald in the hush before winter. Nature is in harmony as gardens begin to settle in for their long winter’s nap.
fall fountain
It’s time to start pondering our spring gardens by rotating crops so as not to deplete the nutrients for a healthy production next season. Cover crops, peas, and legumes are nitrogen fixers. Mix up the heavy feeders such as tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, brassicas, and corn with root vegetables of beets, onions, carrots, and sweet potatoes.  If you live on a hillside, consider planting fire and drought resistant ice plant as a ground cover. Boasting an array of hues, ice plant will also keep the soil from eroding during the rains. Fall is the best time to scatter wild flower seeds, giving them time to germinate before spring. Mixes that include poppies, bachelor buttons, clarkia, lupine, marigold, aster, penstemon, dianthus, coneflower, and sweet William are available in packets as well as containers. Wild flowers attract pollinators and will keep the hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees buzzing around your property instead of your neighbors.
sunflower close up
Sunflowers have been prolific and extra large this summer. As their heads droop, make sure to collect the seeds both for feeding the birds and also for saving for new towers.

When the weather cools, mosquitoes and other bugs tend to disappear. Enjoy the trickling of your fall fountain as you invite friends over for a final barbecue and outdoor meal as we wave good-bye to the summer sun.

The luster in the sky is a kaleidoscope of brilliance, a forerunner to the quiet before the storm.  Bienvenue d’automne!

Cynthia Brian’s Beginning of Fall Gardening Tips
iceplant
WATCH for aphids on plants, especially mandevilla. Mix 2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid with water into a spray bottle. Spray affected plants daily. The dishwashing liquid smothers the aphids.

MAKE applesauce or apple butter with the apples that fall from your trees. This year boasts a big crop of apples. You don’t need to peel the apples. Wash, slice away any brown spots, cut into chunks, add to a pot filled with a small of amount of water, boil, then add cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, and honey for a delicious, healthy treat alone or with meats, over ice cream, or yogurt.

START to think about cover crops to add maximum benefits to your soil over the winter. Fall mixes can include seeds of legumes, grass, grains, broadleaf, and brassica, vetch, rye, clover, and radish. These will suppress weeds, add aeration, and increase soil aggregation.

PROTECT your heart by eating more leeks, keep diabetes at bay with more Swiss Chard, fight colds with dandelion greens, and build stronger bones with bok choy. Yes, these leafy greens can do all of that! Plant some.

SEND a plant off to college with your student to keep the indoor air clean while offering memory and concentration improvement.  Prayer plants, peace lilies, pothos, and snake plants are just a few of the easy to grow specimens that will acclimate well to dorm rooms.

PLANT shallots in well-amended beds with plenty of compost in full sun.  The greens can be harvested young or wait until they die back to harvest a cluster of shallots.
nonie's grapes - 1
MUNCH on grapes straight from the vines or buy California grapes at your favorite market.

SAVE seeds from your favorite open-pollinated or heirloom tomato plants in Mason jars topped with water.  Cover the jar, but don’t seal. Stir daily until seeds sink to the bottom. Rinse through a sieve and let the seeds dry on a paper towel until thoroughly dry. Fill a small jar with seeds, add a silica gel pack, store in the refrigerator until spring planting. Hybrid seeds will not provide tomatoes true to the mother.

DEADHEAD roses for several more flurries of blooms before January. It is wonderful to have cut flowers from your garden when December rolls along.

OVER-SEED lawns before the cold sets in. Pearl’s Premium is proving to be a drought resistant alternative to regular seed grass. It sets deep 14-20 inch roots and with two seasons of seeding should be hardy and fuller next summer. www.PearlsPremium.com
prayer plant
INCLUDE colorful coleus in both indoor and outdoor fall displays. The leaves are the flowers and the designs and patterns are endless.

SELECT tulip bulbs for November planting. Tulips need to be refrigerated for six weeks.

ATTEND the Pear and Wine Festival at Moraga Commons on Saturday, September 24 from 10-4pm. Pick up complimentary potpourri and a new children’s book from the Be the Star You Are!® booth sponsored by MB Jesse Painting, Starstyle® Productions, llc, Lamorinda Weekly, Children’s Success Unlimited, and Michael VerBrugge Construction. Click on events at www.BetheStarYouAre.org
sweet-potato-plant
Hello Fall! Happy Gardening! Happy Growing!
coleus
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©2016
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.

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