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Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian in May

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian in May

succulents in a frame on grass.jpeg

By Cynthia Brian 

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to live on this beautiful and astonishing Planet Earth. In the morning, I woke up with a sense of gratitude.” –Earl Nightingale

In California, May reigns as one of the most colorful months of the year. Mother Nature has fully awakened from lingering winter doldrums to burst into bloom. The radiant combination of lush green lawns against cheerful vignettes of glowing, flowing flowers, trees, and shrubs is mesmerizing. Beauty, fragrance, and food beckon from every direction.

With appreciation, I awake each morning and fall asleep each night to the lullabies from a multitude of songbirds. Pollinators are busy buzzing from nectar plants to other food sources signaling a healthy garden environment. The succession of blossoms changes daily from spring bulbs to robust roses; bright bearded iris to sprouted seeds scattered last fall. 

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May is the optimum time to plant annuals, vegetables, and herbs together in a potager garden. By combining a medley of edibles and florals, biological pest control is ignited providing plants to protect one another and be a shelter for beneficial insects. Nasturtium, calendula, and marigolds are the colorful workhorses attracting hungry caterpillars and blackflies away from brassicas and beans. Garlic planted between roses, lettuce, potatoes, or even fruit trees will keep the aphids, Japanese beetles, and ermine moths at bay. Parsley attracts pollinators and protectors of tomatoes. Mint deters ants and aphids but make sure to plant in a pot as mint can overtake an entire garden. Before planting, weed thoroughly, enrich the soil with compost or add new soil, and rotate crops to maintain vigor while producing greater yields.

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Jerusalem star, also known as go-to-bed early, vegetable oyster, or salsify is considered an invasive weed in some areas, but this dandelion-related plant is a forgotten beloved Victorian-era edible that tastes like an oyster and grows like a carrot. Its yellow-flowering relative is named goats beard. The taproot grows to twelve inches into the ground. Harvest with care to not break the root. In the kitchen, salsify is versatile and delicious in soups, stews, bisques, casseroles, or grated like beets in a salad for a fresh seafood/artichoke flavor. The entire plant has been used medicinally. 

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Be cautious of poisonous plants invading your vegetable garden. Poison hemlock is everywhere and is deadly if ingested. The pretty plant displays lacy and fernlike leaves with very delicate white flowers. A member of the carrot family, it is often mistaken for Queen Anne’s lace, a less- lethal specimen. The best way to identify poison hemlock is to look at the stems which have red or purple spots or streaks. Its most poisonous alkaloid is coniine which causes complete respiratory collapse. Only mechanical or artificial ventilation can save someone who has ingested poison hemlock. Wear gloves and a mask to dig out the root. Don’t weed whack it or burn it as small particles could be inhaled. Socrates drank hemlock tea as his preferred method of dying. 

crimson spots of poison Hemlock.jpeghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1606/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Spring-succession.html

The yellow blooms of the elderberry tree signal spring’s arrival, and people need to be aware of the toxicity of this beautiful tree. The stems, seeds, leaves, bark, and roots are all poisonous to humans containing a cyanide-inducing glycoside. The blue-black berries are safe to eat only after boiling for at least twenty minutes. Elderberry jam and wine are popular and include major health benefits.

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Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, a spectacularly beautiful biennial plant, is extremely attractive to children and every part of it is lethal to humans. Compounds from this plant are used in heart medicines. Since they grow tall, five to seven feet tall, plant them at the back of a flower garden and keep them out of your kitchen garden.

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Besides getting my potager and vegetable garden installed, my latest fun spring project has been creating a living wall garden by using a decorative frame from Nature Hills Nursery that features a built-in watering tray and a reservoir for drainage. This instant wall planter is a step up from the DYI picture frame with chicken wire-filled moss that I designed several years ago. I added potting soil to the portrait garden, arranged a variety of succulents, attached a found turkey feather, watered, and hung it on the exterior of my house in the sunshine as a growing art piece. 

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Every day I am immersed in gratitude for the wonders of Mother Earth as I watch the procession and succession of nature’s bounty. Walk gently through your garden to enjoy the miraculous magic of May. 

The Goddess Gardener’s Gardening Guide for May

ü  FERTILIZE: If you haven’t already, fertilize trees, shrubs, rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, lawns, and ground covers while the days are warm, and the evenings are cool. 

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ü  FEED indoor plants

ü  BAIT for snails and slugs that will damage new seedlings with organic Sluggo. The active ingredient is iron phosphate. Corry’s Slug and Snail Killer contains 5% sodium ferric Exceda that is safe for pets and people and can be used on edibles. After eating the bait, these gastropods slink to their hiding places to die. Because both male and female mollusks lay eggs, one slug or snail can contribute to thousands of these pests terrorizing crops if not eradicated. 

ü  SPRAY roses, crape myrtle trees, and ground cover susceptible to aphids and fungal diseases.

ü  DEADHEAD roses as the petals fade to encourage continuous blooming.

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ü  PLANT annuals and perennials including zinnia, salvia, calibrachoa.

ü  ELIMINATE standing water from gutters, old tires, or saucers to reduce the breeding of mosquitoes.

ü  TRANSPLANT small trees, including fruit trees such as nectarine or avocado to the desired area. 

ü  MOW tall wild grass to three inches or less as a fire defensible space.

ü  COMBINE edibles and flowers in a kitchen garden with a variety of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beets, squash, garlic, parsley, borage, nasturtium, calendula, roses, and marigolds.

potager garden.jpeg

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1606/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Spring-succession.html

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.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

Drought Design

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
Drought Design

succulent-fountain grass.jpegby Cynthia Brian

“That which surrounds you is within you.”

 

~ Karl Schmidt

Days of heat followed by days of near-freezing cold! Out of nowhere, a beautiful hailstorm covers the ground in white pebbles. The weather forecasts sunshine or cloud cover, but no rain in future days. According to the New York Times, the seven hottest years on record globally were experienced in the last seven years. The atmospheric river of December provided a respite and a hopeful prospect for drought relief. January, February, and March are traditionally the wettest months here in California, but this year, January and February were the driest in years and March isn’t looking much better. Maybe the Irish leprechauns will exert their magical powers to make it rain on St. Patrick’s Day!

DESIGNING FOR DROUGHT:

As I gaze upon my peach tree blossoms intermingled with crabapple buds blooming much too early, I admit that I am basking in this early spring. Although I am an eternal optimist that imagines positive outcomes, if we want our gardens to survive and thrive, we need to design for the drought. Here’s how to get started now to be ready for whatever transpires as the months warm.

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CHECK FOR LEAKS

Make sure that your outside pipes are insulated against freezing. Water expands when it freezes causing pipes to burst. Even a tiny 1/8 crack could spew 250 gallons of water per day. If you witness wet spots, water running along driveways, or puddles, investigate for a leak. Check hose bibs for drips, replace washers, and routinely inspect automatic sprinklers and connections.

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AMEND THE SOIL

The foundation of every garden is the soil. The ideal soil drains quickly while storing water. For drought toleration, add several inches of rich, organic compost to encourage deep root formation while trapping moisture. Make your compost by adding kitchen scraps, eggshells, coffee grinds, tea leaves, shredded newspaper, leaves, lawn clippings, fish bones, aged manure, non-diseased weeds, and other organic matter to a bin or pile. Do not use human, dog, or cat feces. Don’t disturb the lower levels of the ground to allow worms and micro-bacteria to do their jobs of aerating and feeding the earth. In a drought, double and triple digging techniques are not recommended.

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WATER WELL

            To stay healthy, most plants need at least one inch of moisture per week. The best way to save your plants as well as conserve water is to water deeply and infrequently.

The penetration of the water encourages deeper roots that are more resistant to drought conditions. A good rule of thumb is to water until the dirt has a hint of shine. Lawns and bedding plants require a drink to a depth of six inches while perennials, trees, and shrubs need closer to twelve. Plan to irrigate either early in the morning or evening when absorption will be maximized, and evaporation minimized. Just as humans rejuvenate from a good night’s rest, plants do most of their growing at night. Traditional overhead sprinklers can lose half of their effectiveness to evaporation, run-off, and overspray. Drip and soaker hoses are the best bets for deep soaking to the root zone. Soaker hoses may be covered with mulch making them invisible. When water is restricted prioritize rationing by watering: 

  1. Newly planted trees, shrubs, and perennials.
  2. Newly seeded or repaired lawns.
  3. Plants with exposure on windy sites or in sandy soils.
  4. Flowering vegetables. 

rosemary in bloom.jpeghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1601/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Designing-for-drought.html

MULCH

            Three inches of much will insulate your plants from the heat, cold, and elements. Mulch keeps the ground cooler, maximizes water retention, reduces evaporation, and improves the appearance of your landscape. Mulch includes pine needles, straw, leaves, wood chips, bark, and even gravel. As it decomposes it becomes compost and enriches the soil. When that happens, it is time for a new top layer of the mulch of your choice.

 

WEED

            Weeds steal moisture and nutrition from neighboring plants. Pull or cut down unwanted weeds.

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STOP FERTILIZING

            If you plan to fertilize this season, do it now while the weather is still cool, and dew is apparent. Feeding while it is raining is the best prescription for plant wellness. If you fertilize without sufficient water, the roots will burn, and the plants will die. Fertilizing encourages new growth and new growth will stress your already stressed specimens. As the weather warms, refrain from fertilizing again until rain is forthcoming.

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PLANT FOR DROUGHT

I’m a big believer in bulbs. In our temperate climate, you dig a hole, plant, forget, then be awed when bulbs pop up and bloom. Daffodils, calla lilies, freesia, hyacinths, Dutch iris, and many others are all excellent spring-blooming bulbs that require minimal care and reap huge bloom benefits. For summer flowering, plant gladiolus, Naked ladies, agapanthus, Asian lilies, tuberous begonias, dahlias, iris, and canna. Succulents offer a magnificent maintenance-free drought investment.  Succulents come in many shapes, sizes, and colors with beautiful blooms and little water requirements. Sedums are spectacular as groundcovers or upright attracting bees and butterflies. Jade, echeveria, Senecio, haworthias, aconitum, and ice plant all have varied textures and attractive flowers. Unlike cactus, succulents don’t have thorns, making them a favorite for rock gardens.

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Don’t forget to plant edibles. A small four-foot by eight-foot bed can be planted with plenty of nutritious vegetables and herbs to feed a family of four. Decide what you enjoy eating and plant only those to avoid watering vegetables that you won’t consume. 

 

Surrounding me now is plenty of sunshine and within I feel sunny and bright. Yet, I’m counting on the luck of the Irish to bring a bit of Emerald Isle precipitation to the shores of California this St. Paddy’s Day! In case there isn’t that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, I’m designing for drought. 

yellow sedumsucculent.jpeghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1601/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Designing-for-drought.html

Goddess Gardener Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for March

ü  FERTILIZE hungry lawns to strengthen roots, resist cold, heat, and high traffic when weather is wet. This feeding will help combat the stress of drought.

ü  AERATE your lawn. The soil is compacted from winter rains and foot traffic.  Leave the plugs to add nutrients back into the grass.

ü  CONTINUE to protect frost tender plants

ü  POUR chamomile tea around the base of newly planted seedlings to eliminate fungus growth.

ü  CUT boughs of camellias to use in a bowl or arrangement. 

ü  PAMPER yourself with an exfoliating and moisturizing facial from your garden. Squeeze lemon juice from your Meyer lemon tree into a bowl and mix with lavender petals and ¼ cup olive oil.  Home brewed spa experience in 20 minutes.

ü  CONTINUE to compost, compost, and compost. This is the single most important ingredient of growing a great garden. Buy an inexpensive compost bin from your local waste service.

ü  SPADE six inches of rich compost into your vegetable garden in preparation for the next season’s plantings.

ü  SCATTER a canister of California poppy seeds for a carefree, drought-tolerant golden showstopper.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Photos: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1601/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Designing-for-drought.html

Cynthia Brian- Camellias.jpeg

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.

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.

BTSYA 3 book series.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

February Flora

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
February Flora

Christmas cactus from below.jpeg

By Cynthia Brian

No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.” Booker T. Washington

For the past two months,  I’ve been working on writing a series of children’s books, a bit of prose, a bit of poetry. But with the ubiquitous sunny days and warm temperatures, digging in my garden wins the race. In the past, February has notoriously been a drab and dreary month, but this year it is filled with fabulous flowers, unseasonal sunshine, and idyllic conditions for working outside. My Christmas cactus shines with fluorescent cerise blooms, the blazing blue of the rosemary bush host busy, buzzing bees, the viburnum is covered in masses of sweet-smelling white blossoms, and roses continue to bud and bloom.

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Wood sorrel or oxalis already showcases bursts of buttery yellow flowers. These shamrocks don’t usually appear until St. Patrick’s Day. The purple-tinted flowers of the marvelous magnolia liliiflora, known as the tulip magnolia, suggest that spring may have already sprung.

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It’s mid-February and still no sign of rain. January was considered the driest month on record in California since 1895. Daffodils blanket the roadways and hillsides; ornamental pear trees are in full bloom with peach buds prepared to explode into luminous pink. Back in December when we experienced the atmospheric river and the record-breaking seventeen feet of snowfall in the Sierras, we had high hopes that drought conditions may be receding.. 

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Cynthia Brian’s February Gardening Guide

Here are some tasks to accomplish now.

ü  If you haven’t already, it is time to turn on the sprinklers and give your garden a deep drink. Check the sprinkler heads on lawns as grass tends to grow over them when not in use during the winter months If your irrigation system needs a tune-up, professionals have told me that winter is the ideal occasion to schedule appointments for repairs or installations. In the summer months, when we need to irrigate the most, specialists are swamped with emergencies.

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ü  Water in the morning to give plants the opportunity to dry out before night.

ü  Fertilize trees, shrubs, and ground covers. When it comes to fertilizers, people often wonder what N, P, K mean. N stands for nitrogen which stimulates leaf formation to give plants the luminous, healthy green. P is phosphorus which encourages strong root formation, aids in flowering and fruit set. K is for potassium providing disease resistance and hardiness to plants. The three numbers that you see on labels such as 5-10-15 indicate the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that the product contains. This listing is required by law on all packages of organic, synthetic, and chemical fertilizers. Keep in mind that although nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are necessary to maintain plant health, there are more than twenty other nutrients needed as well. 

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ü  Get a head-start on pulling weeds while they are small, and the ground is malleable. Weeds harbor disease.

ü  Apply snail bait around plants that are susceptible to snails and slugs.

ü  Use an organic systemic insecticide around the base of roses to prevent the first flush of aphids. 

ü  Spray fruit trees, roses, and citrus with dormant oil to protect them from overwintering insects and fungal diseases. Copper Sulfate is approved for organic use and offers a strong defense against fungal pathogens. Be sure to follow all safety and application instructions, as copper is a potent control method, and should be used responsibly. Do not spray on windy days. Wash any citrus before consuming. Harvest tangelos, lemons, oranges, and limes as needed.

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ü  Check for mole and gopher activity. These rodents do not take a winter hiatus. It’s best to trap them before they reproduce.

ü  Complete pruning of roses, grapes, and berry bushes.

ü  Sanitize tools between use. Alcohol, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide solutions are recommended.

ü  Cut small branches of peach or crabapple to force the blooms for an indoor arrangement.

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ü  Plan an edible garden. What vegetables and herbs do you love the most? Find out what varieties are best planted from seed (arugula for instance) and what plants are better purchased in six-packs, quarts, or gallons. (tomatoes, in my opinion).

ü  Dress your garden with fresh mulch or chipped bark to maintain moisture, control temperatures, and minimize weeds.

ü  Add a rock dry creek to an area with run-off. 

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ü  Peruse gardening books and seed catalogs for ideas on what you want to plant. This season I suspect that we will be sowing seeds earlier as the soil warms.

ü  Repot houseplants. Remove dead leaves, add fresh soil, give them a sunshine retreat outdoors for a few hours.

ü  Enhance a corner of your exterior with a wall fountain and colorful potted plants.

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ü  Build a path or walkway that will integrate into the landscape and complement your home.

ü  Get outside to soak up the Vitamin D. Garden, stroll in a park, hike a trail, or walk the reservoir. Pay attention to the natural landscape.

ü  Check out the FREE Seed Bank at Moraga Library. Free vegetable, herbs, flowers, and milkweed seeds are available thanks to the efforts of the Moraga Garden Club, the high school all-girl Boy Scout Troop 401 and middle school Girl Scout Troop 33778. www.moragagardenclub.com

Although California needs increased precipitation, and we must all continue to be diligent in conserving water, I admit that I am enjoying springtime in February immensely. The hills are currently green, cows are munching on the plentiful grass, the air smells fresh, and the creeks are trickling. A bit of the winter bite remains as soon as the sun sets, and the moon rises. It is a lovely time to be outside expressing gratitude for Mother Earth. There is indeed dignity in digging in the dirt, and of course, it is what I write about so that our race will prosper and thrive through nature.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1526/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Fabulous-February-flora.html

cynthia brian-grass.jpeg

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.

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.

BTSYA 3 book series.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

How To Protect Your Winter Garden – Dos And Don’ts

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Health & Wellness
How To Protect Your Winter Garden – Dos And Don’ts

One of the most common winter gardening questions that people ask is whether significant temperature changes may hurt or kill decorative plants.

In most cases, the answer is no. Plants have the genetic ability to detect and adapt to changes in the environment. While warm winter temperatures promote development and blooming, chilly temperatures limit growth and hasten to blossom.

Plants are especially sensitive in the spring; when there are prolonged periods of warm temperatures and then out of the blue, there are nights with low temperatures well below freezing. According to the Property Buying Company a well groomed garden is a highly sought after feature.

Tips For Protecting Flowering Plants In Winter

While most plants can withstand harsh winter freezes, flowers on winter-flowering plants such as plum, camellias, cherry trees, and azaleas are not so lucky.

An extreme freeze can destroy swollen buds that are about to blossom. The damage may go undetected until the flowers open, at which point the damage will manifest as brown patches on the petals. In some instances, the entire bud may freeze and fall off the plant. Flowers that have fully opened will either transform into a sickly brown or drop to the ground.

Cover plants with buds or open blooms using an old sheet or a commercially supplied frost cover to prevent being disappointed by unattractive blossoms or losing them entirely.

Pro tip: Avoid using plastic since it can rapidly generate an oven effect when exposed to sunlight.

You may even fool Mother Nature by clipping the buds ahead of the freeze and taking them indoors to let them bloom. There is no need to put a protective covering if a freeze is anticipated before buds have formed.

Here is a list of dos and don’ts to make sure your plants withstand severe freezes so you can enjoy the blossoms of the many lovely winter-flowering plants according to invasive plant experts at Environet.

Winter Garden Dos

  • Don’t stop planting – provided the ground is soft for digging.
  • Mulch is your friend. It will aid in maintaining steady root temperatures.
  • Make use of compost. It enriches the soil with organic nutrients. Just make sure not to add more than three inches thick.
  • Don’t forget to water your plants. Watering ahead of a forecasted freeze helps plants, particularly annuals and potted plants, to survive a harsh freeze. Proactive hydrating allows plants to absorb moisture before the ground freezes, preventing water from reaching the root zone. Remember to water above-ground shoots and the roots.
  • Provide additional protection for potted plants. Cover them with frost cloth or other heat-retaining blankets, and place pots and other containers beneath the eaves or near the foundation of your house.
  • Take houseplants indoors. To get rid of hitchhiking creatures, thoroughly water the plants with an insecticidal drench and spray all sides of the leaves with an insecticidal soap that is safe for people and pets. Place plants inside in areas where they will be exposed to indirect, strong sunlight for at least five hours every day. As most houseplants do not actively develop in the winter, make sure you position them away from heating vents and drafts and hydrate them sparingly.

Winter Garden Don’ts

  • Fertilize. Winter is a time for garden plants to rest and go dormant. Forcing plants to initiate new growth before the earth warms in the spring not only disrupts their rejuvenation time, but freezing temperatures, ice storms, or even strong frosts may destroy sensitive new growth.
  • Skip your normal watering cycle. A once-a-week thorough watering will suffice during dry months when the ground is not frozen or covered with snow. Sufficient watering is especially important for new plantings.
  • Be concerned about bulb foliage. Daffodil leaves and other spring-flowering bulbs should be alright during temperature drops.

Fall in a Pot

Posted by presspass on
0
Empowerment
Fall in a Pot

basil, herbs in box.jpg

“Truth comes out in wine.” Pliny the Elder

“The people who give you their food give you their heart.”  Cesar Chavez

The fires and smoke have ravaged farms and vineyards throughout Northern California, including my family vineyards in Napa County. The grapes are plump, juicy, and ripe. Harvesting would normally be in full swing this month, but, sadly, with so much smoke suffocating fields throughout the region, wineries require red grape samples to be tested for smoke taint. 

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Smoke taint is concentrated in the skins and during fermentation glycosides break down, releasing the volatile phenols and smoky flavors into the wine. The result tastes like licking an ashtray. The damage is not detectable by looking at or eating a grape. It is only noticeable in the wine. Since white wine isn’t barrel-aged nor use skins, white wine doesn’t experience this smoke taint.

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The largest testing laboratory, ETS in St. Helena is swamped with results backlogged for weeks or, as some growers are finding out, over a month away. If a grower or winery is not a client, they won’t be able to process samples until November. By then the window for harvesting will be over. The grapes will be dried raisins, not suitable for pressing. 

What this means for viticulture in 2020 is that farmers may lose their entire crop and face increased financial hardships as the grapes hang on the vines. There may not be a 2020 red wine vintage as wineries are not allowing deliveries of grapes under contract until the lab results have confirmed an absence of smoke taint. Truth is always evident in the wine.

With the stifling smoke of the past weeks, my normal September gardening tasks have been placed on pause. I am sheltering indoors and suggesting to clients and readers to do the same to maintain health as smoke inhalation peril is increased during Covid-19.  But this doesn’t mean that I’m avoiding my garden. I’ve been asked to write another gardening book and am brainstorming in my library. And, I’m bringing the fruits of my labors inside to my kitchen while I chef it up. 

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“Oh, I can smell the sauce from here,” my charity collaborator and friend, Terry in Washington, emailed me when I wrote her that, to mask the smell of smoke, I was making my family’s traditional homemade spaghetti sauce with ingredients from my waning garden. My process reminded her of being in her Italian great-grandmother’s kitchen. 

With the intense sunshine and heat of the summer, tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, and herbs are filled with flavor. Being Italian, neither my Nonie, Mom, nor relatives measured anything. A recipe was handed down throughout the generations by watching, doing, and adding “a little of this, a pinch of that”, lots of garlic, and several splashes of wine. We have always cooked by taste, adding spices as needed. Naturally, numerous “malfatti’s” or mistakes occurred, which oftentimes, were our greatest successes.

The best cooks that I’ve ever encountered have also been avid gardeners. Gardeners experience nature using their senses. Gardeners amber through a potager snipping, smelling, nibbling, feeling, and seeing with a profound sensitivity to the innate characteristics of each legume, bloom, or crop. Being an astute chef requires one to know how to mix and match fruits, flowers, vegetables, and herbs to enhance any dish, allowing the natural essences to imbue their zests and aromas. Food must look good, smell good, taste good, and be ultimately satisfying, making one feel good.

Autumn is harvest time. Besides eating our tasty produce now, it is also the perfect opportunity to can or freeze fresh crops to savor during the winter months. 

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What herbs can you dry or freeze:

Basil

Bay

Oregano

Sage

Rosemary

Dill

Thyme

Parsley

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I prefer to freeze basil and parsley or make “sauce ice cubes” with those. The rest of the herbs, I dry, then store in labeled jars. 

Cynthia’s Italian Family Spaghetti Sauce “Recipe”

  •  In a pestle and mortar grind together oregano, sage, rosemary, and thyme. You can also use a blender if that is easier for you.
  •  Chop red and yellow onions and several cloves of garlic.
  •  Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
  •  Stir in chopped mushrooms.
  •  Add 3 or 4 whole bay leaves and a handful of the mashed herbs.
  •  Gently brown meat (ground beef, lamb, pork, chicken) in the mixture. If you want a vegetarian sauce, skip this part.
  •  Cut 6-10 tomatoes into small pieces. Smash half of the tomatoes. Add cut pieces and the tomato paste to the meat mixture.
  •  Pour in red wine.
  •  Tear 4 or 5 basil leaves into pieces and stir into pot.
  •  Continue adding more wine as necessary. 
  •  Simmer at lowest heat for several hours until all the flavors have melded together. Turn off the burner to let sit.
  •  Sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Optional ingredients include peppers or eggplant. To make a Puttanesca, add olives and capers. 

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The final sauce will be thick, rich, and delicious. Don’t be afraid to make this in advance as flavors are more delectable the next day. Freeze or can any extra sauce. (I always make a big pot and freeze tubs for later consumption.)

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Pour over spaghetti, ravioli, lasagna, or any pasta. Toss lightly to blend the sauce. Top with chopped parsley, torn basil leaves, and grated parmesan. Serve with crusty sourdough, a romaine lettuce salad, and a glass of sustainable, locally grown, aged, and bottled Captain Vineyards Petite Sirah. Finish off your meal with fall fruits: a bunch of grapes, tangy tangerine segments, crunchy Asian pears, and a few figs. Buon appetito.

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What are you harvesting in your garden right now? Do you have a family “Fall in a Pot” recipe to share with others? 

My Mom taught me that expressing love came from gardens and home-made food. My Dad taught me that farmers feed the hungry and wine is the nectar of the gods. Both gave their hearts. During these very challenging times as we pray that our California vineyards survive this ordeal, let’s toast to life with a glass of local vino and welcome fall with a pot of goodness from our gardens. 

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In my next column, I plan to be outside once again offering you guidance for autumn gardening. Until then, limit your outdoor exposure when it’s smokey and make sure to water your landscape deeply in the early mornings or late evenings.  Be aware that your containers may need a daily dose of H2O.  For the next two to three months until the rain begins to fall, our area is at imminent risk of fire danger. Be ready to evacuate. Read my article on what you need to know and do to be prepared. https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1414/Are-you-ready-to-evacuate.html

For a ZOOM presentation of, “Tips, Tricks, and Tonics in the Garden” join me on Thursday, September 17th, as I kick-off the 50th Anniversary of the Moraga Garden Club. For information on this ZOOM meeting, call Membership Chair Jane Magnani at 925-451-7031 for times to join in the conversation and presentation. I’ll be participating from my patio for a light, fun, informative, and hopefully smoke-free lecture. 

See photos and more:  https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1415/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Fall-in-a-pot.html

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Happy gardening. Happy growing.

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 c, celebrating 21 years of service to the community. www.BetheSTARYouAre.org. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

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Buy copies of her best-selling books and receive extra freebies, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Cynthia is available for virtual writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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Sirius is Serious

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Empowerment
Sirius is Serious

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“When the ancients first observed Sirius emerging as it were from the sun…they believed its power of heat to have been so excessive that…the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid.”  John Brady, 1813, a Compendious Analysis of the Calendar.

Forever the optimist, when I penned my last column, The Dog Days of Summer, (http://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1413/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-the-Goddess-Gardener-for-August-The-Dog-Days-of-Summer.html), I intentionally left out the part of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, 1817 that indicates, “Make both hay and haste while the Sun shines, for when old Sirius takes command of the weather, he is such an unsteady, crazy dog, there is no dependence upon him.”

In the last few weeks, we have witnessed the ravages of Sirius with thousands of lightning strikes causing more than six hundred wildfires, millions of acres burned, gusty erratic winds, radically unhealthy air quality, and ash blanketing the state. More land has burned in the last few weeks than burned in all of 2019. Death and destruction are the horrific aftermaths.

Our Napa County farm was amongst the blazing landscapes. Everyone living in the valley where our vineyards and ranch reside was evacuated, yet, with firefighters engaged elsewhere battling numerous other infernos, my brother stayed behind on his tractor to cut roads, create safety zones, and clear debris. The hills and pastures burned. He saved the vineyards, barns, and our family home.

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Between the brutal pandemic, perverse politics, sizzling heat, and suffocating smoke, we all have a reason to despair. To thwart a fire on my hillside, I have cut my dried perennials and annuals to ground level. The only beauty is offered by my faithful blushing naked ladies, lavender society garlic plants, and the passionflower vine that twines up my peach tree. The ground is parched. 

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As I was repairing a broken water pipe so that I could irrigate this arid field, my optimism suddenly resurged. Swallowtails flitted through the smoke-filled air searching for a colorful landing place. A hummingbird settled on my string of patio lights before nuzzling my pink jacobinia growing in a cement urn. A five-lined skink, also known as a blue-tailed lizard, perched on a nearby boulder completely uninterested in my cutting and gluing efforts.

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I completed my project, picked a ripe tangerine from the tree, headed for the hammock, and savored the juice as it dripped down my chin. Swinging, I contemplated my future gardening desires.

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This is the season to start making a list of what you want to grow for the forthcoming months. My succulent garden doesn’t need precipitation to thrive. Adding succulents to your want list is a smart idea.

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Bulbs are easy to grow and most offer yearly returns. Favorites to plant in late autumn for a spring showing include daffodils, tulips, freesia, ranunculus, hyacinth, Dutch iris, anemone, and crocus. Freesias are one of nature’s greatest gifts with splendid scents, a cornucopia of colors, and the ability to naturalize. Daffodils are probably the most popular and least expensive of all the bulbs. Deer, rabbits, and other critters won’t eat them, allowing their happy flowers to bloom for long stretches. When winter is nearing its finale, crocus will make you smile as they push through the soil to reveal their rich colors of blue, violet, yellow, and white. Treat yourself to a garden filled with tulips. You’ll want to buy your bulbs soon as they need to be refrigerated for at least six weeks before planting. For more impact, group colors, shapes, and sizes together in a swath. They are wonderfully interplanted with delphiniums, pansies, and other annuals or perennials for a very merry greeting. 

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After a traumatic summer filled with climatic extremes, sowing seeds for a bountiful harvest of late fall to early winter salad greens and vegetables is a welcome endeavor. 

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What seeds do you want? Try any of these for rapid results. Make sure to water regularly.

Lettuce

Spinach

Arugula

Swiss Chard

Kale

Beets

Fennel

Turnips

Broccoli

Carrot

Kohlrabi

Shallots

Garlic

Radish

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With the seriousness of the sizzling Sirius and the dangerous air quality outside, stay indoors and peruse catalogs and gardening books to get ideas for fall planting. On Thursday, September 17th, I’ll be doing a ZOOM presentation, “Tips, Tricks, and Tonics in the Garden” for the Moraga Garden Club celebrating its 50th anniversary. For information on this ZOOM meeting, call Membership Chair Jane Magnani at 925-451-7031 for times to join in the conversation and presentation. We’ll keep it light, fun, and informative. 

Summer will soon be ending. This is an opportune time to check for sale and clearance items that you may want for your outdoor landscaping for next year. I have found great deals at  https://bit.ly/3aG6qOI including winter covers for patio furniture. As much as I love the heat, the chance of wildfires is omnipresent. Make sure to read my article on how to be prepared in the event of any emergency. This article could save your life. 

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1414/Are-you-ready-to-evacuate.html

The Roman poet, Virgil described Sirius as “bringer of drought and plague to frail mortals, rises and saddens the sky with sinister light.” The veracity of his narrative has been realized in 2020.  The sea has not yet boiled and let’s hope the wine doesn’t spoil. I’m grateful to my brother for saving our ranch and thankful to the first responders and firefighters on the front lines of the flames.

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Now more than ever, we need large doses of humor, hope, and healing. Let’s employ kindness and empathy for one another as we prepare for planting autumn bulbs and seeds.  A bright and beautiful spring display is only two seasons away. Embrace optimism and gratitude. 

Photos: http://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1414/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Sirius-is-serious.html

Happy gardening. Happy growing.

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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.

Buy copies of her best-selling books and receive extra freebies, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

Cynthia is available for virtual writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Hot, Hot, Hot!

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Empowerment
Hot, Hot, Hot!

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Some Like it Hot!

By Cynthia Brian

“Summer afternoon — summer afternoon; the two most beautiful words in the English language.” Henry James

The blackberry bushes flanked the horse stables on my grandparents’ ranch. My grandmother was a genuine horse whisperer. She lovingly cared for a herd of adopted steeds and rode in parades in her fancy Western wear. She even trained the horse for the television show, My Friend Flicka. Together, after an early morning gallop through the fields and vineyards, she would give my cousin and me an empty pail and challenge us to a blackberry picking contest. Our reward was a big bowl of berries with fresh cream dusted with cereal. I adored my horse-loving grandmother and those luscious summer blackberries. 

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Although I’ve always treasured horses, I stopped liking blackberries when I started growing my own. The thorns are menacing, and the bushes sprout everywhere with their underground runners. In the heat of summer, my days are filled with pulling out blackberry vines from flower beds instead of picking fruit. But this year I have a bumper crop of big juicy berries in an area where I’ve allowed them to flourish. I decided to risk the scratches to re-live the free-flowing glory days spent with my grandmother riding horses and gobbling blackberries in rich purple cream. It’s a short season for blackberries and they like it hot.

Meteorologists have predicted that 2020 has a 75% chance of being the hottest ever recorded. The good news is that we grow many specimens in our gardens that thrive in the heat. The bad news is that the Artic is rapidly warming and climate change is sinister. We must strive to reduce our carbon footprint while we indulge in the summer flavors of favorite fruits and vegetables and the beauty of heat-tolerant blossoms.

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Unless you can water deeply and daily, August is not an optimal month to plant anything. But it is a month to enjoy the high-temperature lovers. Tomatoes, tomatillos, beans, peppers, eggplant, beets, zucchini, basil, and corn are a few of the vegetables that demand six to eight hours of sunshine to flourish. Summer fruits that require heat to ripen include peaches, pears, plums, nectarines, cantaloupe, watermelon, apples, blueberries, figs, and, of course, blackberries. Limes are the only citrus that require a blistering summer to be at their best. By growing your choices in containers, specifically tomatoes, peppers, and herbs, substantial sunlight can be guaranteed by moving the pots to different areas and watering when necessary. 

I have a pistache planted in a large ceramic cask that has already turned a vibrant red while other in-ground pistache trees are still a brilliant green. Crape myrtle trees, hollyhocks, and agapanthus pop into magnificent blooms when the thermometer rises. Lavender, salvia, sage, and roses grow vigorously in summer. Ubiquitous oleander and the common geranium beat the heat with a profuse of petals lasting until the cold weather begins. 

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As a child, the Four O’clocks lining our country road opened daily exactly at the prescribed hour. The ones that perennially sprout in my Lamorinda garden germinated from those ranch heirloom seeds do not live up to their namesake. My errant sun-worshippers open at 8 a.m. and close by 4 p.m. 

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Blissfully, right on cue, just as my hillside is looking drab, dry, and dismal, my Naked Ladies poke their long necks out from their mounds. Every year I delight in their ability to shimmer when most everything else is withering.

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The big question in the cauldron of August is when and how-to water. Just because a plant is drought resistant or heat-tolerant doesn’t mean it doesn’t get thirsty. To keep our garden healthy, we can’t under-water or over-water. What’s the secret? The optimum time to water is very early morning to prepare your garden for the day. The roots will retain the moisture and the plant will stay hydrated. Watering in the afternoon wastes water as it evaporates before it can saturate the soil. The evening is also a good time to water as long as the leaves have enough time to dry out. Watering at night encourages fungus, insects, and rot. Deep-root watering is always better than sprinkling. Adding three inches of mulch around all plants and trees will aid in keeping the moisture level correct while keeping the roots cooler.

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If you have a swimming pool, pond, or fountain, you may discover that honeybees appear to be suicide bombers this month. Rescue them. When it is scorching, bees search for water then return to the hive to let other bees know the location of the source. A group of fifteen or more may tap the pool surface bringing back the droplets to receiver bees. According to entomologists, the water is then deposited along the edge of the wax comb while bees inside the comb fan their wings to circulate the air conditioning. Bees prefer hive temperatures of 95 degrees Fahrenheit, so they like it hot, too!

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August will be a sizzling month. Make sure you and your garden stay hydrated. Enjoy the fruits, vegetables, and flowers that relish the swelter. Pick a basket of blackberries, with or without horse-back riding. 

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Stay cool and enjoy a summer afternoon of hot, hot, hot!

Cynthia Brian’s Garden Product Tips

 

It’s important to frequent and support your local nurseries, garden centers, and stores, however, during the pandemic, many people are safely sheltering-in-place as much as possible. If you prefer armchair shopping with delivery to your home, these are affiliate suppliers that offer quality and satisfaction for almost everything outdoor and garden related.  Some have current sales and others offer free shipping with minimum orders. 

  •  High-quality gardening products including umbrellas canopies, gazebos, hammocks, furniture, and more with a 15% off sale through August 10th , Use Code SELECT15: https://bit.ly/30L5yUA
  •  An extensive selection of live plants, seeds, & gardening accessory products, plus trees, shrubs, fruit trees, perennials, & bulbs.

https://bit.ly/2P6FAFL

  •  Furniture and structures for both outdoor and indoor living including pergolas, bridges, gazebos, sunrooms, and birdhouses, plus a kids’ corner with play structures and more.

https://bit.ly/2D4ymPL

  •  Fountains, firepits, hammocks, carts, umbrellas, bird feeders, relaxation products, and more. https://bit.ly/3eXqNHU
  •  And if the pandemic will be ushering in a new baby in the family soon, congratulations, check out the gear, furniture, and décor at https://bit.ly/2WQv7lJ
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For photos and descriptions list https://www.cynthiabrian.com/home-garden-products

Happy gardening. Happy growing.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1412/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Some-like-it-hot.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 best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

Cynthia is available for virtual writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Cynthia Brian’s NEW Book-Growing with the Goddess Gardener is Published!

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Empowerment
Cynthia Brian’s NEW Book-Growing with the Goddess Gardener is Published!

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Life began in the garden. A garden is where nature and nurture converge, a calming oasis where we can listen to the call of the wild and sometimes tame the shrew. Growing with the Goddess Gardener is a brilliant bouquet of twelve months of heartfelt true short stories celebrating living, loving, laughing, and learning in the garden. A calendar years worth of tips, tricks, and to-do lists guides you in your quest of mindfully cultivating your own fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers in following chapters.  In your hands is the power to make this world a more beautiful place while you connect and collaborate with Mother Nature on your terms.  The Goddess Gardener invites you to a personalized garden party.  Get going and start sowing with Growing!

 

ISBN: 9781945949968 (Color Interior)

ISBN: 9781945949593 (Black and White Interior)

Purchase: www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store

This beautiful  6″ x 6″ garden guide of 165 pages published by Waterfront Press is the perfect size for gift giving in baskets, stockings, and as a hostess treat for anyone who appreciates nature, the outdoors, and growing. Growing with the Goddess Gardener is available with color photos inside or black and white interior photographs.

Discounts available for premium case sales on all of Cynthia Brian’s books.

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Cynthia Brian’s Newest Garden Book is Published!

Just in time to banish the the winter blues, Cynthia Brian’s first book in the Garden Shorts Series,  Growing with The Goddess Gardener,will enchant, inspire, and motivate you to get up off the couch, power down your gadgets, and go outside to smell the roses or dance in the rain. Tap into your inner green thumb and order your autographed copy today!

PURCHASE DIRECT

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25% of proceeds from Growing with the Goddess Gardener benefit the 501 c3 charity, Be the Star You Are! empowering women, families, and youth through increased literacy and positive media messages. www.BetheStarYouAre.org

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Get Extra Goodies by Purchasing Directly

 
Buy books directly from our store, to receive the BEST prices and lots of extra goodies. For each book purchased you will receive:
1. Personalized Autograph Copy
2. Special Seeds to Plant
3. Fragrant Potpourri
4. Bookmark
5. Inspirational Information
PLUS 25% of every sale will go to Be the Star You Are!® literacy and positive message charity.
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Want to Buy from Amazon?
Shopping on line? #StartWithaSmile at https://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882 
  1. Enter “https://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882 ” in your browser address bar
  2. Pull down BOOKS & enter 9781945949968 for color
  3. Pull down BOOKS & enter 9781945949593 for black/white
  4. For Kindle or Ebook, click on Kindle Edition
  5. Continue shopping for anything and everything
  6. Amazon donates .05% to Be the Star You Are!®
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Please note that books purchased through Amazon will be delivered directly from Amazon and will not include any autographs or extra goodies.

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About Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian, a New York Times best selling author, grew up on a farm in Northern California where she drove tractor, raised chickens, and worked in the fields to finance her college education. Known as The Goddess Gardener, Cynthia is a TV/Radio personality, newspaper columnist, lecturer, lifestyle coach, and Executive Director of the 501 (c) (3) literacy charity, Be the Star You Are!®. When she’s not writing, performing, or coaching, you’ll find her in her garden with her menagerie of adopted barnyard animals. www.CynthiaBrian.com

If you are looking for a spokesperson, garden consultant, speaker, or talent, hire Cynthia Brian.

 

PRAISE:

This is a wonderful book, very inspirational and just the thing we all need to get us out of our chairs and into the garden, getting some exercise and reaping the rewards in so many different ways from simply enjoying nature to savouring the produce. Michael Marriott, Senior Rosarian, David Austin Roses, www.DavidAustinRoses.com

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“So much of gardening is about love and peace as well as practical advice. Cynthia Brian’s Growing with the Goddess Gardener offers both, with caring and wisdom.” Pat Stone, Editor, GreenPrints, “The Weeder’s Digest” www.GreenPrints.com

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“Cynthia simply exudes love for nature, and the beauty that surrounds us in our daily lives.” Jim Berry-Lifetime Nurseryman & Owner of J. Berry Nursery, www.jberrynursery.com/home

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Cynthia is a sparkling personality!  As an inspirational writer, she overflows with insightful suggestions and a positive view of the world that is contagious – a great anecdote for the trials of the world.  I can’t speak higher about her vision of life and the things she covers so eloquently in her writing and on the radio.

jackson Madnick, Zoe, Cynthia.jpgJackson Madnick, Pearl’s Premium Ultra Low Maintenance Lawn Seed, www.PearlsPremium.com

 

READY!
SET!
GROW!
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Pace Be with You! By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Pace Be with You! By Cynthia Brian

By Cynthia Brian

“Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

No, the title “Pace Be With You!” is a not a typo.  

Halloween was a few weeks away when retail stores began showcasing Christmas goods. The day after Thanksgiving, Christmas carols were ubiquitous with garlands, wreaths, Santa statues, and twinkling lights adorning every space.  As much as I love the holidays, I detest the commercialization.  My sanctuary during this chaotic period is to spend quality time in a garden where the flora and fauna abide by the terms of Mother Nature. Here, there is a natural rhythm to life.  When we adopt an attitude of patience and pace ourselves, peace is the result.  Being in nature will help you achieve these secrets of living mindfully.

I recently rested and rejuvenated on the verdant Caribbean island of St. Lucia where life operates at slower pace. The lush rainforests surrounded by sparking aqua seas envelope this tiny oasis providing a prescription for mindful meditation focused on nature.  The wonders of marine life with reefs vibrant and alive with coral and fish compliment the rich tropical jungles filled with the sounds and sights of birds, reptiles, and exotic creatures.  Walking through the botanical gardens is a sensory experience, definitely a sublime forest-bathing experience in the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku. Everywhere I looked I witnessed what we refer to as “houseplants” growing naturally in the rain forest and on the Pitons.  Peace lilies, anthuriums, poinsettias, pothos, ferns, tillansia air plants, gingers, philodendrons, palms-all happily communing in this natural setting.  To see the symbiotic relationship between vines, trees, shrubs, and other plants assured me that planet Earth has a will to survive. Whether the weather was monsoon raining or brilliant sunshine, being in such a pristine environment far removed from the maddening crowd gave me reason to pause, pace, and peace out!

Now that the chilly days and colder nights have halted any successful outdoor planting project, it’s time to bring a festive and healthy touch to your indoor décor with living tropicals. The plants from the rain forest will remove toxins, improve the air quality, and add beauty as colorful accents since during winter months when more time is spent inside.  On the larger specimens like the fiddle leaf fig, you can wrap Christmas lights and sprinkle ornaments, pinecones, garlands, or toppers to celebrate the season.

Staying healthy this season:
Gearing up for holiday meals may cause you to think of your waistline, but by considering the nutritional values of the foods, you’ll be able to devour with delight.  

Roasting butternut squash brings out its natural sweetness. It can be paired with garlic, rosemary, cumin, coriander seeds, and peppers for a healthy savory dish or for a sweeter rendition, add nutmeg and cinnamon. (In St. Lucia, every time I asked a waiter what made a particular dish so delicious, the answer would be “the secret ingredient is nutmeg!” I came home with the nuts to grate) Squash is a no-cholesterol fruit packed with fiber and is a major source of vitamin A providing benefits for your heart, eyes, and skin.

If you grew garlic, leeks, and onions this year, you are enjoying the cancer-fighting properties of the chopping, smashing, and dicing.  These tasty alliums contain prebiotics (not to be confused with probiotics) that keep friendly bacteria in your intestines, help you absorb calcium, ward off colds, flu, and heart disease, while lowering blood pressure.  Add fresh garlic to your salads and sides for an extra health boost.

Beans are nutritional powerhouses loaded with vitamin K for bone health, fiber for digestion, folate for energy, and magnesium for brains. Eat fresh green beans (never canned, unless you canned your fresh produce) and you’ll be fired up with antioxidants.

Sweet Potatoes are very easy to grow and just one cup fulfills your daily ration of vitamin A necessary for vision and bone growth. If you are concerned about combating wrinkles, the vitamins in sweet potatoes decrease creases while hydrating and repairing your skin.

Eat your spuds cold because when potatoes are cooked and cooled, they release “resistant starch”, a fiber that actually aids in burning fat.  

The antioxidants in red wine decrease heart disease and protect against cancer. Share a bottle of Lamorinda wine at your holiday feast to extend your life and your relationships!

Pumpkin pie is not only delicious. It is good for your complexion with its commanding antioxidants. One slice delivers four grams of fiber.  Go ahead and have a second slice!

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Tips

BUY bulbs on sale. Many nurseries and garden centers are selling bulbs 50-75% off retail because it is generally accepted that the planting is over. However, I plant bulbs through the end of January because our Mediterranean climate seems to keep the soil a bit warmer. Tulips are always a special treat, although we usually only get one to two years from a bulb. Alliums are a great choice because the deer won’t eat them and the blooms are terrific as a cut flower. For the fragrant scent, nothing beats hyacinth, however always wear gloves when planting these bulbs as many people exhibit skin allergies to hyacinth.

MOW your lawn only every two weeks in the winter with the mower at 3.5”.
SPREAD seeds of a cover crop to add nitrogen and nutrients to a vegetable plot.
DECORATE with tropical plants in varying sizes to dazzle and sparkle. The great thing about tropicals is how easy they are to grow and how long the blooms last. Read the instructions and enjoy the rainforest benefits.
SPRAY paint end of season gourds and pumpkins with gold, silver, or bronze for an entry arrangement with pinecones and evergreen branches.
DONATE to your favorite non-profit for an end of year tax deduction while making the life of someone else more pleasant. Please consider our local youth 5o01 c3 charity, Be the Star You Are!®, www.BetheStarYouAre.org.
STAY healthy by eating fresh fruits and vegetables in season such as pomegranate, persimmon, oranges, tangerines, lemons, winter squash, kale, potatoes, and lots of lettuces and herbs.
PACE yourself. Nature is slowly sleeping and this gives gardeners a chance to revitalize, refresh, restore, and renew. You’ve worked hard all year. Give yourself the gift of peace.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and hallowed holiday month.  Patience and peace be with you!

Happy growing! Happy Gardening!
Read More

©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.  

Growing Gratitude! By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Growing Gratitude! By Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian-Thanksgiving bouquet 

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” Henry Ward Beecher
Are you grateful for the simple things in life? This is the perfect time of the year to reflect upon our blessings and gifts. I am so thankful for all of you who read Digging Deep, Gardening with Cynthia Brian. Your interest and questions are always appreciated. Thank you, also, for so many of you who have hired me to help you with your planting needs or garden desires. It’s magnificent to grow with you.
Every day I am very grateful to be a gardener to witness the beauty, bounty, and endless diversity of Mother Nature. Our landscapes are ever changing. What’s here today may not be here tomorrow, nor, the next year. Seeing the cows grazing in the hills, breathing our clean air, enjoying peace, safety, and serenity that only comes from living in this semi-rural environment makes my heart sing with gratitude.
Wild turkeys have moved into Lamorinda territory, immune to the possibility of becoming a holiday main dish! A big Tom waddled across my driveway as two-dozen of his hens toppled and gobbled the berries from the top of my Chinese pistache. As annoying as they can be, I’m happy to co-exist with the wild things. You may want to collect a few of the beautiful turkey feathers as I do to add to your holiday bouquets!
Persimmon trees are bursting with orange tangy fruit, ready for our holiday puddings. Fall is still showing off its brilliant robes of reds, yellows, and gold, yet there is a nip in the air reminding us that winter in a little over a month. Pumpkins and gourds are still a seasonal favorite. Native to North America, pumpkins are a vegetable, not a fruit, genus Cucubita, species pepo or maxima. They are a type of winter squash and the really weird, ugly ones are the most delicious. The blue-green pumpkins you are growing or have purchased are derived from New Zealand. Cook them as their golden-yellow flesh boasts a sweet, mild aromatic flavor. Were you repelled by the warty pumpkins you saw in markets this year? Don’t be! Those ugly growths are actually sugar secretions. The more warty the pumpkin, the smoother, creamier, and sweeter the flesh inside. Make a pumpkin puree for dinner, or a scrumptious pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and you’ll be hooked!
As we soon bid farewell to fall, let us all keep gratitude in our hearts as we look for the fertile joys that sprout with simplicity. Believe something wonderful is about to transpire.
Grow and glow in gratefulness.
Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Garden Reminders

PLANT Woodland Herbaceous Peonies, a separate species of herbaceous peony that thrive in the shade. Naturalizing in a deciduous woodland area with the early spring sun and summer shade, they will grow to 1.5 feet tall and self-seed as a ground cover. . Woodland peonies provide three-season appeal with delicate white flowers in early spring, lush green foliage throughout the growing seasons, and dramatic indigo and scarlet seed pods in the fall. http://peonysenvy.com

LOOKING for a pre-planned garden selection. High Country Gardens offers deer and drought resident plants that have color, texture, and curb appeal. http://www.highcountrygardens.com

PRUNE those thorny creepers, bougainvillea, now to remove old flowers. Cover with burlap if exposed in an area that gets frost.
Tom turkey & Rhododenron
COLLECT turkey feathers to add to bouquets to wreaths for Thanksgiving.
Hachiya persimmons
PICK persimmons. Fuyu persimmons can be eaten like apples but the hachiyas must be mushy ripe before eating.
gourds-pumpkins
PUREE warty pumpkins for the sweetest, smoothest, most delicious pumpkin dish you’ll ever taste. Obviously, don’t puree the skins!

CUT branches from liquid amber or Japanese maple trees to use indoors for a punch of end of fall color.
Pink-yellow hibiscus
PLANT your spring bulbs now through January to enjoy a meadow of continuous flowers next year.
hyrdrangea in fall
PICK up pansies to plant for winter. 2017 has been named The Year of the Pansy.

ADD a cover crop to your garden to fix the nitrogen and make green manure for spring.
Austrian winter pea has delicious edible pee shoots. Other great mulching cover crops include clover, mustard, and vetch.
j-berry-new-social-butterfly
DISCOVER a tree to climb with your kids. It’s that time of year!

CULTIVATE ornamental grasses for low-maintenance and drought tolerate plantings. Maiden hair grass, blonde ambition grass, feather reed grass, and silky thread grass are a few of the lesser known but easily propagated species.

TRAIN rambling and vining plants on a trellis or tall support for a spectacular vertical garden wherever space is lacking.

SOW wildflower seeds that will attract pollinators, hummingbirds, and beneficial bugs.
yellow mums
PRUNE all perennials when finished blooming. Add the stems and spent flowers to the compost pile.

FERTILIZE lawns.

GIVE thanks every day for something. Keeping a gratitude journal alongside your garden guide is a great tool for remembering to be grateful.

Thank you, thank you for being my special gardening gang. I am humbled to be your guide on the side. There is no such thing as a brown thumb, just one that hasn’t turned green yet!

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing! Happy Thanksgiving and Turkey Day!

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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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