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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. 

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Guardians of the Garden Galaxy

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Empowerment
Guardians of the Garden Galaxy

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“Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.”  William Shakespeare

The gray turtle dove darted from the mulberry tree to the wooden nest box and back again. Thinking there must be eggs, I grabbed my camera and discovered a baby dove nestled in a hollowed nest with the mother bird proudly standing guard. The sounds of gentle cooing surrounded this bucolic scene. I felt blessed that these birds chose my garden to settle.

If you want a healthy, glorious summer garden, beneficial insects, arachnids, birds, amphibians, and reptiles must call your landscape “home”.

Many people scream at the sight of a snake or a lizard and start swatting when they witness a spider. However, these are beneficial biologicals devouring the insects and predators that capture prey that destroy your garden. Everyone loves lady beetles, known as ladybugs, and people understand the value of bees, but did you know that frogs, hoverflies, ground beetles, praying mantids, and lacewings are invaluable friends to the garden?

The guardians of my garden galaxy are plentiful and ubiquitous. Every day as I walk through my oasis, I am greeted by numerous lizards darting from rock to plant, frogs hopping to hide under a leaf, spiders weaving webs, bumblebees, hoverflies, and honeybees sucking the nectar from a variety of species, and birds making nests and dining on insects.  My favorite garden guardians are the kingsnakes that eat gophers, moles, voles and keep the rattlesnakes away.

Our garden colleagues keep nature in balance without the use of pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. Using integrated pest management, natural sources of nutrients including compost and mulch, will fertilize and keep your garden healthy. 

Here are some of the benefits of inviting our flying, hopping, slithering, and scooting comrades into your garden.

Birds: 

As they fly from tree to tree, birds are pollinators adding more blooms and fruit which attract more birds. Birds eat a variety of pests including mosquitoes, aphids, grubs, slugs, and spiders. Large birds such as owls and hawks eat rodents including voles, moles, squirrels, rats, and other unwelcome critters. They help control weeds by eating weed seeds. Watching birds and listening to their song reduces stress. 

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Invite birds to your landscape by offering:

  •  A water source including a gurgling fountain or birdbath.
  •  Birdhouses for shelter and nesting.
  •  Feeders for seed. Even putting a pie tin in the bushes with seeds or picked clover and dandelions will attract our feathered friends, 
  •  Plant a selection of flowering plants, shrubs, berries for them to enjoy.
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Frogs and Toads:

Natural pest control. They eat caterpillars, cutworms, bugs, beetles, grubs, slugs, grasshoppers, and numerous other detrimental insects.

Invite frogs and toads to your landscape by offering:

  •  A place to hide. Frogs and toads are shy. They prefer a cool, shaded area with lots of moisture and plants. Turn over a flowerpot and they will make a house.
  •  A pond allows them to lay eggs. Have fun watching tadpoles.
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Lizards:

Reptiles are excellent eaters of garden pests including slugs and harmful insects.

A plethora of lizards living in your landscape is an indicator of a healthy ecosystem. The food you grow will be free of heavy metals and pesticides since lizards cannot thrive in a hazardous environment. 

Invite lizards to your landscape by offering:

  •  Only natural methods of pest control.
  •  Avoidance of all weed killers.
  •  Mulch to regulate moisture in the soil.
  •  Rocks, bricks, or stones for sunbathing.
  •  A saucer or small container with water for drinking.
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Snakes:

Garter snakes and kingsnakes are especially beneficial in our area because they eat insects and rodents. One snake can devour an entire rat family in two weeks. Kingsnakes also kill rattlesnakes and keep them away. Make sure to learn the good snakes from the poisonous ones.

Invite snakes to your landscape by offering:

Ladybugs:

  •  Also known as Lady beetles or Ladybird beetles, their larvae look like alligators. Both the adults and larvae are voracious general pest predators of aphids, beetles, caterpillars, lace bugs, mealybugs, mites, scale, whiteflies, and insect eggs. The larvae consume over 40 aphids per hour and an adult ladybug will consume over 5000 aphids in a lifetime. If you have a small garden or a minimal pest population in a large garden, they will fly away. Rejoice because your garden is organically balanced.

Invite ladybugs to your landscape by offering:

  •  A wide range of flowering plants to attract and keep them on site.
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Hoverflies:

Also known as syrphid flies or flower flies, hoverflies earned their name by hovering over flowers to sip the nectar, much like hummingbirds. They look similar to bees but they do not sting and are not harmful to humans. The adults are primarily pollinators and the larvae are pest predators, crawling along plant surfaces searching for prey. They seize the insect, suck out its contents, and discard the skin. They mimic bees and wasps to protect themselves from predators but have two wings instead of four.

Invite hoverflies to your landscape by offering:

  •  A variety of nectar and pollen-producing plants such as aster, calendula, cornflower, cosmos, dill, fennel, lavender marigolds, mint, statice, zinnia, wild mustard, and sunflowers.
  •  Food throughout every season by timing plantings for continuous blooms.
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Spiders:

Spiders help maintain a healthy balance in your garden by eating harmful pests from spring through winter. By controlling the bad insects, they reduce plant pathogens that damage plant tissues. Most spiders are peaceful. The most common web builder is the yellow and black spider, and the black wolf spiders are active hunters.

Invite spiders to your landscape by offering:

  •  Grass clippings, mulch, lush bushes, and perennials for habitat.
  •  Cover crops such as clover and vetch and hedges like boxwoods are havens for spiders.
  •  Sunflowers, vining beans, and corn as well as other tall flowers are excellent for webs.
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Grow a diversity of plants, eliminate pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides to attract beneficial insects, birds, spiders, reptiles, and numerous other guardians of our garden galaxy. By providing the basic needs of food, habitat, water, and shelter, you and your family will enjoy increased outdoor amusement while learning an appreciation of nature. Your garden will be their dinner table and their bedroom. Know your friends and protect them. 

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1410/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Guardians-of-the-Garden-Galaxy.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 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

 

Pivots for the Planet with the Goddess Gardener

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Empowerment
Pivots for the Planet with the Goddess Gardener

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“I should like to enjoy this summer flower by flower as if it were to be the last one for me.” Andre Gide

Summertime and the living is easy! Or is it? 

This year will be a year like no other highlighted by the frightening health pandemic and sorrowful civil unrest. As the economy slowly re-opens, people are clamoring to shop, dine, socialize, get haircuts, and have their teeth cleaned. The line of masked individuals waiting outside reopened stores for their turn to enter is a testament to the yearning to gather. Protesters fill the streets across the country demanding needed national changes. It’s time to listen, re-evaluate, and educate ourselves. Connecting with the natural world is one prescription for finding healing and balance. 

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While I was researching grants to assist the literacy charity, Be the Star You Are!® (www.BetheStarYouAre.org) financially survive during this crisis, I marveled at a constant question: How have you pivoted?  At first, I had no idea what that question meant. What did we have to do to pivot? Where were we supposed to pivot to? After many Zoom conferences, meetings, webinars, and phone meetings, I finally understood. 

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But how can pivoting apply to gardening? The entire world is experiencing chaos.  People who have spent minimal time with nature, who have never thought of growing anything, have become interested in planting and protecting. I’ve had emails from individuals from many walks of life who want to get their hands in the dirt as they are sheltering at home. As they decide to pivot, nature is a salve. When times are stressful, gardens become a refuge. Shoveling, digging, pruning, planting, and watching seedlings grow into something to admire or eat are therapeutic endeavors. 

Whether you decide to grow a few herbs on a windowsill, tomatoes on a balcony, or an abundance of your favorite vegetables, flowers, and fruit in a large garden, there is nothing better than a summer of flavor and colors grown in your personal paradise. When you pivot to your garden, you’ll slow down a bit and feel appreciation. Research consistently indicates that being around growing plants benefits you physically, psychologically, and emotionally. You’ll decompress, gain more muscle mass, increase aerobic endurance, reduce stress, and experience more joy. 

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Summer has always been my most favorite season because of the delightful warm weather and bountiful baskets of fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs that I harvest from my orchard and potager. The plethora of glorious blooms constantly changes keeping my elation peaked. Unlike most people, I prefer not to travel in the summer months to other destinations. Instead, the beauty of my backyard becomes the playground for family and friends where we barbecue, engage in lawns games, watch the flamboyant sunsets, and wander the grounds watching the parade of wildlife.

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Flowering plants are hummingbird, bee, and butterfly magnets while the seeds attract the birds. Agastache, echinacea, hollyhock, and roses enchant for months. In my orchard, the loquats, mulberries, tangelos, citrus, and plums are ripe. The birds, deer, turkeys, squirrels, and I skirmish for our fair share. Soon apricots, prunes, and peaches will be ready for harvesting and the wrangling will begin again. I adore these encounters with nature. There is abundance for all.

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My field of chamomile is richly fragrant and the petals when plucked and dried will make a comforting tea. The seeds from nigella (love in the mist) have scattered throughout the orchard creating a sea of blue. Bumblebees race from star-shaped blossom to blossom grabbing the sweet nectar. Roses mixed with osteospermum (African daisy) will provide continuous blooms into the fall with frequent deadheading. Lovely on the shrub, the blue hydrangeas are almost as stunning in a dried arrangement.

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An intriguing plant is arum italicum, also known as Italian Lords and Ladies. In late spring, the creamy-white flower is cupped at the base of the plant resembling its relative, Jack-in-the-Pulpit. In mid-summer, striking red-orange berries rise in a columnar formation where the foliage has died back. This tuberous perennial plant self-sows and can become invasive if your yard is small. If you have a woodland area where bergenia, heuchera, or hellebores thrive, it is quite stunning. Beware, all parts of the plant are poisonous. Don’t let it grow in your vegetable patch!

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This summer is destined to be unusual. I plan on adhering to Covid-19 directives to shelter-in-place while refraining from attending large gatherings or even small ones. I’m working from home, wearing a mask and gloves whenever I venture out, constantly maintaining a minimal six feet distance between others, and am continuing to sanitize everything. Hopefully, we won’t go back to what was considered normal in the past and instead take better care and be more aware, of one another and the health of our planet.

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This year I am happy and grateful to enjoy the summer flower by flower. My planet pivot is to play in my personal garden paradise.

What’s your planet pivot?

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay strong. Wash your hands. Cover your face!

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for July

PIVOT for stress relief to your garden sanctuary.

PREVENT grubs (the larvae of June bugs) by treating your lawn with an organic granular treatment to get rid of larvae. Raccoons, skunks, and moles enjoy grubs as a source of protein.

BOND with children or a partner by planting edibles you will enjoy together. 

DRESS for the dirt by donning gloves, sunscreen, hat, and an apron. If you are doing heavy weeding, wearing overalls is a win.

DRY three to five sprigs of blue hydrangeas for a long-lasting summer arrangement.

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COLLECT the white blossoms of chamomile for a soothing tea.

PLANT Lilliputian miniature roses in a container for a moveable dash of color.

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PICK a basket of mulberries if you are lucky enough to have a tree.

GROW citrus to maintain a constant supply of vitamin C. Dwarf varieties of lemons, limes, tangerines, tangelos, oranges, and grapefruit are available to be grown in half barrels.

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PREVENT fires by removing debris, dead branches, and refuse from around your home and yard. 

CUT all tall grass and keep lawns and shrubs watered.

SAVE rose petals to make bath balms and rose water splashes.

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SUCCESSION planting is the key to a plentiful supply of summer greens including lettuces, arugula, beets, carrots, and radishes. Sow your favorite seeds every three weeks as you consume.

CHECK yourself for ticks after every outdoor excursion. (To date, I’ve removed three!)

ADD hydrogen peroxide to fountains to purify the water without harming the birds.

MAINTAIN social distancing and wear a mask when you leave your home.

TAKE care of Mother Earth. 

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BE SAFE on Independence Day. 

Photos and more at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1409/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Planet-pivots.html

Happy gardening. Happy growing. Have a flowerful 4th of July!

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, 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. 

cyntha brian with books.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Plant a Victory Garden 3.0

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
Plant a Victory Garden 3.0

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https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1408/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Victory-Gardens-30.html

Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian 

Victory Gardens 3.0

By Cynthia Brian 

“In every adversity there lies the seed of an equivalent advantage. In

every defeat is a lesson showing you how to win the victory next time.” Robert Collier, Writer and Publisher

In March 2017, a month before the United States entered World War I, Americans across our lands were asked to plant produce to help feed the Allies fighting in Europe. It wasn’t only farmers who were solicited to start planting. President Woodrow Wilson declared that “food will win the war,” as he encouraged city folks to plant in vacant lots, fields, parks, and pots. So began the “war garden” to sow seeds of victory. 

During World War II, food shortages prevailed once again. Victory Gardens sprouted throughout America, Europe, Canada, and Australia supplying over thirty-three percent of the necessary food for our country. Eleanor Roosevelt even dug up part of the White House lawn to plant a vegetable garden. Turnips, tomatoes, lettuce, peas, beets, beans, cabbages, carrots, squash, onions, potatoes, and many other vegetables were easy to grow and preserve by canning for the winter months. By 1943 there were approximately eighteen million Victory gardens throughout the United States, twelve million of them in cities, and six million in rural areas. 

Today we face major adversities from different kinds of conflicts. The Covid-19 pandemic combined with racial civil unrest throughout our cities, our country, and our world have the potential to increase food scarcity and shortages. We have already witnessed throngs of people emptying grocery store shelves of staples and canned goods. It is easier than ever to grow our own food no matter what our space limitations. If you have a yard, you can choose a small area to plant the vegetables, fruits, and herbs that you love. If you only have a porch or balcony, use pots to grow tomatoes, lettuces, basil, parsley, and peppers. According to the U.S.D.A., 15% of the world’s food supply is now grown in cities.

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Ready to get started?

FIRST

Only five things are needed to grow your Victory Garden 3.0: 

  1. 1. A patch of land, raised bed, or pots that are two gallons or larger
  2. 2. Bags of high-quality garden soil
  3. 3. Healthy plants
  4. 4. Mulch
  5. 5. Water

SECOND

  1. 1. Find an area that will get at least six hours of sunlight per day.
  2. 2. If you are working a patch or raised bed, pull out any weeds and prepare the ground by adding new garden soil. If using pots, wash the pots, make certain there is a drainage hole at the bottom, add a few pebbles, or cracked pottery to help with drainage and fill the pots with your purchased soil. Vegetables need organic matter including compost or manure to thrive because the organic matter decomposes the essential nutrients of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium to enrich the roots. 
  3. 3. Buy healthy plants from your local nursery or garden center. Check for vibrant green leaves. Look for any insect or snail infestation. Plant according to instructions.
  4. 4. Top with peat moss or other mulch. Peat moss adds aeration, retains moisture, and reduce the leaching of the nutrients. It is a great mulch and can also increase the efficiency in a compost pile.
  5. 5. Water thoroughly and maintain moisture while growing.
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Before planting your Victory Garden 3.0, research the maturity date for the crops you wish to grow as harvest dates vary greatly. If you plant from seeds, you’ll have lettuce and radishes within two weeks. If you are planting zucchini or corn, the time frame is longer, perhaps 100 days. Don’t overlook a nutritious staple that is super easy to grow…potatoes.  Spuds are ready for eating in 70-100 days. Try cutting egg-sized pieces of a potato with two or three eyes. Plant in a two to five-gallon pot, bucket, or in a raised bed. Mound the dirt into little hills as the spuds grow on stems. Pile mulch or straw on top as the tubers grow to keep the stems in total darkness. Don’t eat green potatoes as they can be poisonous. Citrus, apples, and peaches can be planted in large containers.

We are living through a frightening, complicated international crisis. If we have learned any lesson from history, it is that we can win the victory when we work together with empathy, caring, and intelligence. Growing even a portion of our own food will help us be healthier while creating a more sustainable lifestyle. We’ll get exercise, sunshine, fresh air, and have fun growing with our families. Plus, butterflies, bees, and birds will pollinate and entertain as our garden reduces stress and offers soul fulfillment. Don’t forget to plant some “pretties” like Asiatic lilies, gazanias, trumpet vine, and hydrangeas. Annual and perennial flowers add fragrance, structure, and beauty to our lives. 

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Stay safe. Stay healthy.  Plant your Victory Garden 3.0 today!

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for June

PLANT tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, eggplants, arugula, cucumbers, beans, corn, and pumpkins. Herbs to plant now for summer harvesting are basil, parsley, and cilantro. 

STAKE or provide a wire cage to support tomatoes so the fruit won’t touch the soil and rot.

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APPLY snail bait to newly planted seedlings and wherever you witness slugs or snails.

FERTILIZE trees, shrubs, and ground covers before the summer heat.

SPRAY crape myrtles to prevent powdery mildew with a natural fungicide such as neem oil extract, jojoba oil, or potassium bicarbonate.

CHECK irrigation systems and readjust sprinkler heads as needed.

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TACKLE aphids with ladybugs or for a small infestation, spray with a mixture of water and dish detergent. 

CUT dead canes of hydrangeas to the ground (anything without a green bud on it). Don’t prune hydrangeas in spring or fall or the flowering buds will be cut off. 

BUY a shorter variety or move a too tall hydrangea as they cannot be pruned to reduce height. Hydrangeas always replace their height. If a hydrangea is drooping on a hot day, it doesn’t need water. It will rebound as the evening cools. Hydrangeas grow great in containers. 

ADD Sulphur or aluminum sulfate to acidic soil to get blue hydrangeas. Rusty nails or copper do not work.

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TREAT both upper and lower leaves of roses with organic Sulphur for fungus problems including black spot, rust, and powdery mildew.

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PRUNE azaleas immediately after spring flowering.

DEEP SOAK trees with a soaker wand when you see the leaves wilting. 

PULL out the dried fronds of spring bulbs. If a bulb comes out with the leaves, cut off the dried foliage and either replant the bulb in a new place immediately or put in a dark, cool space to replant in the fall. 

CELEBRATE your gardening dad on Father’s Day by buying a copy of Growing with the Goddess Gardener or Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul at https://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store. 

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CARE for your lawn by raking leaves, twigs, and dead grass. Pull the weeds including dandelions, chickweed, bittercress, and henbit. Aerate and leave the plugs on the grass. Cover bare patches by over-seeding with Pearl’s Premium grass seed. Visit www.Pearlspremium.com. Water early in the morning and fertilize once more before the heat of summer. When mowing, never cut off more than 1/3 and leave grass clippings on the lawn at least every two times you mow.

HARVEST cherries, lemons, tangelos, loquats, and tangerines.

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FEED your family and friends in body, mind, and spirit by planting a Victory Garden 3.0

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Father’s Day.

 

Read more:

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1408/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Victory-Gardens-30.html

Cynthia- hydrangeas.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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Grounded!

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Empowerment
Grounded!

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“I rejoice when I see anyone, and especially children, inquiring about flowers, and wanting gardens of their own, and carefully working in them. For the love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies, but always grows and grows to an enduring and ever-increasing source of happiness.” Gertrude Jekyll

It’s not only the airlines and cruise ships that are grounded! Young people everywhere are also enduring the sheltering-in-place mandate. As we embark on our eleventh week of staying-at-home and on-line learning, adults and children are naturally a bit antsy.

When I was a kid and school was closed for whatever reason, my very first instinct was to get outside and explore. I wanted to be on the tractor plowing the fields with my Dad, tending the vegetable garden with my Mom, or leading the rest of the ranch kids on an adventure through the creeks and hills to identify flowers, plants, amphibians, and insects. 

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I’m certain that my love of the natural world began as a child. As an adult, I have always felt it was important to share this passion with youth. Gardens offer a crucial way for people to access and experience the natural environment. Nature is a public health resource that is available to everyone. Since its springtime and we are all grounded, why not employ some fun activities that the entire family can enjoy together while practicing social distancing?

Here are a few ideas that I’ve implemented with my family and students over the years.

  1. 1. Begin a nature journal. Use a spiral binder, a notebook, or design a beautiful unique diary. Go outside and observe. Use crayons, markers, or paints to illustrate and chronicle what you see.
  2. 2. Record nature sounds. You’ll hear different sounds at various times of the day. Crickets chirping, frogs croaking, birds singing, water tricking, wind whistling, squirrels chattering, bees buzzing. Make a personal meditation recording on your smartphone.
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  4. 3. Underground exploration. The earth is crawling with activity. Underneath the surface of the soil, countless critters are busy at work. Go to a corner of your garden and gently dig up a trowel full of soil. What do you see? Earthworms? Millipedes? Sowbugs? Slugs? Are there spiders or other insects crawling? Note your findings in your nature journal.
  5. 4. Make a “stained glass” window. One of my favorite projects as a kid was picking pretty flowers to press. Instead of making a book, we made “stained glass” windows by pressing an arrangement of petals between two sheets of wax paper and ironing the wax paper. Make sure to place a thin dishcloth on top of the wax paper before ironing. The wax paper seals the flowers together creating a colorful window. Choose brightly colored flowers and dark green foliage that will lay flat. California poppy, bougainvillea, pansy, violets, rose petals, and nasturtium work especially well. Hang them with ribbon by a window to reflect the rainbow of hues.
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  7. 5. Decorate your mailbox. Plant a climbing rose or trumpet vine at your mailbox to brighten your street. You’ll need to keep it shaped and pruned.
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  9. 6. Grow a vegetable garden. Besides the ease and rapid sprouting of beets, radishes, and carrots, one of the most rewarding combinations to do with kids is to plant a Three Sisters Garden. If possible, give your child her own little plot so she will feel proud of being a farmer. The Iroquois Native Americans planted corn, beans, and squash for a balanced diet. Corn is a source of carbohydrates, beans offer proteins, and squash is filled with vitamins. The corn is the pole for the beans to climb while the squash grows low to the ground providing shade and keeping the soil moist. There is nothing tastier or more nutritious than home-grown food. Make sure to plant tomatoes and peppers now.
  10. 7. Plant herbs and flowers in containers. In several containers, sow seeds of your favorite herbs for seasonings. Dill, cilantro, parsley, basil, thyme, or mint. Sprinkle a few flower seeds for color. Cover with wire to keep the critters and birds out, using Christmas clips to secure the wire. Decorate with rocks, shells, or other trinkets that your kids have found.
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  12. 8. Go on a tasting adventure. For this experience, an adult must know with 100% accuracy that a plant is edible because there are many toxic flowers and leaves in nature that can make us very sick or worse. This is an educational encounter that kids truly savor. Some unexpected plants that can be sampled include rose, nasturtium, fennel, calendula, dandelion, wild mustard, miner’s lettuce, and the berries of Oregon Grape. Leaves and flowers of all herbs can be sampled. Make sure there are no pesticides or insecticides on any of these specimens. Record the flavors in the journal. Do you find something sweet, sour, bitter, or something else? Emphasize the importance of knowing what is edible and what is poisonous before tasting anything. 
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  14. 9. Scavenger Hunt. Animals are always building, hunting, gathering, and scavenging. Take a walk around your backyard or a hike in the neighborhood to collect a few of nature’s discarded treasures. What did you find? An empty bird’s nest, twigs, acorns, feathers, bark, pinecones, or nuts? Design a natural art piece together.
  15. 10. Introduce animals. Children are naturally drawn to animals. Since grounding, I’ve noticed a huge uptick in people who have decided to buy newborn chickens, rabbits, birds, potbelly pigs, goats, dogs, and cats to familiarize their children or grandchildren with animal husbandry. As someone who was born and raised on a farm and has always been surrounded by animals, I’m a huge proponent…with this caveat. Remember that these adorable babies grow up to be adult animals who aren’t always so cuddly. They require food, water, grooming, shelter, and constant care throughout their lives. Raising any animal teaches discipline, responsibility, patience, kindness, gentleness, interdependence, and love. These are all magnificent virtues. Are you ready and prepared for the long haul?Cynthia teaching poultry to child.jpg

Gardening has many benefits for the physical and mental health of everyone in the family. According to the Centers for Disease Control, we burn approximately 330 calories per hour of gardening. Gardening lowers our blood pressure, it reduces depression, anxiety, and stress while increasing our wonder, happiness, and satisfaction. 

For the foreseeable future, we are all grounded, but we don’t have to endure a perpetual Groundhog Day. Expand the quality of daily living by proposing the joys of gardening and being one with nature to your children, teens, and community. Go outside and meander.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay sane. Cynthia Brian-sefie in the trees.jpg home.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos and more at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1407/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Grounded.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.

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

#coronavirus, #activitiesforkidsm#nature,#edibleplants,#tresaurehunts,,#ross,#hikes,,#stayhone, #spring,#chicens,#covid-19, #gardening, #cynthiabrian, #starstyle, #goddessGardener, #growingwiththegoddessgardener, #lamorindaweekly

Cultivating Artful Gratefulness

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Empowerment
Cultivating Artful Gratefulness

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Cultivating Artful Gratefulness

By Cynthia Brian

“My garden is my most beautiful work of art” – Claude Monet

A vase filled with cascading jasmine sits on my nightstand just inches from my bed, its heady scent perfuming the entire room. Not only is it beautiful, but it is my sentinel alerting me when I awake that I still have my sense of smell. Since one of the symptoms of contracting Covid-19 is the loss of taste and smell, I appreciate the fact that I can smell the roses as well as all the marvelous fragrances breezing through my garden. I have always been filled with gratitude for the simple things in life, but now, more than ever, I am cultivating artful gratefulness with increased urgency.

I am so thankful for my lush landscape. I live in what I call my “private botanical garden” where every day I am greeted by surprising sprouts, sounds, and sights. It’s been eight weeks since I’ve worn any make-up. My daily wardrobe consists of my grubby garden garb, tool apron, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and boots. Splinters, scratches, bites, and itchy poison oak are a blight to my body, yet I am so joyful to spend my days weeding, seeding, and feeding as I witness the magnificence unfolding in this labyrinth of blossoms. Rose entwined arches, mustard growing fifteen feet into the trees, clematis bowered on trellises, a mosaic of colorful floral layers dazzling on the hillside, a parterre of bearded iris, cornflags, daylilies, and roses hemmed by clipped boxwood, butterflies flitting from flower to flower, bees humming in the citrus…nature is a living painting!

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My garden is my most spectacular artwork. Some of it is messy and wild, other parts are formal and civilized. As my camellias wane, my florescent pink rhododendrons take center stage. Azaleas in containers, as well as those planted in the ground, are on a continual blooming cycle.

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A variety of trees, both deciduous and evergreen, fruiting and flowering, screen and define the property. I’ve been pruning, thinning, and cutting deadwood in anticipation of fire season.

My goal during this coronavirus crisis is to keep our immune systems strong by eating as many fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits from my garden as possible. Artichokes are almost ready to be harvested. My citrus crop has been supplying my family and friends with daily doses of Vitamin C.  After delivering lemon limes to my neighbor, she offered me a goji berry plant which I am excited to grow as a living fence. Also called the matrimony vine, goji berry plants can be pruned and shaped to keep them small so that the red fruit which will ripen from July to October can be easily harvested. The berries contain more vitamin C than oranges, more potassium than a banana, and more iron than a steak. In addition, I learned that goji berries contain a high concentrate of vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, E, and eighteen different amino acids and zinc. I am so thankful to grow this new specimen that will enhance our health.

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Gardening is not a hobby; it is an essential part of my creative being. Gardening is a survival skill and an art form. It is gratifying to sow a seed, water, fertilize, prune, and nurture that tiny seedling to full bloom. No matter how small a home is, we can always grow herbs in a pot on a windowsill or fill containers with vegetables and flowers displayed on a balcony or porch. With a garden, we bring beauty into our lives. Especially in troubling times, beauty is critical to grow our hopes and dreams. This lockdown has sparked an increased appreciation for the solitude and splendor of gardening.

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Let your garden be your most attractive work of art. Plant a painter’s palette of exquisite color. A garden is a refuge, a sanctuary, a quiet, safe place. Propagate positive possibilities and cultivate artful gratitude.

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Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay home. Stay grateful. 

Cynthia Brian’s Mid-Month Gardening Guide for May

SCATTER snail and slug bait before they destroy all your sprouts.

PREPARE for fire season. Cut out the deadwood from bushes and trees, prune limbs, and clear brush.

CLEAN leaves from gutters.

CUT tall wild grass to the ground.

CHOP leaves and flowers from wild mustard for salads and sandwiches.

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WATER deeply and when needed.

PULL daffodil and other bulbs spears as they dry.

DEADHEAD roses, calla lilies, and calendulas as blossoms fade.

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CLEAN greener this spring by using friendlier ingredients found in your garden such as lemon juice to remove grease, mildew, and stains

WALK a nature trail for exercise, beauty, and curiosity satisfaction, keeping your distance from others, and bringing a mask.

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PLANT beans, squash, cucumbers, corn, gourds, melons, and pumpkins directly into the garden now. Because of their tender taproots, they do not transplant well.

BUY tomato seedlings to plant anytime.

COMPOST your coffee grinds, eggshells, vegetable peelings, and tea leaves.

BAG your lawn clippings only every other mow. It’s best to leave the clippings on the lawn as feed for the roots, but many people find the extra grass too messy.

TUCK edibles into your flowerbeds. Parsley and garlic chives look especially handsome as a border. 

REGROW scallions by sticking the root ends in water after snipping. You’ll get a fresh crop very quickly.

THIN apples and stone fruit to ensure a bigger, healthier harvest. Leave two to three fruit per cluster. 

HARVEST artichokes, arugula, and Swiss chard.

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Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos and article: 

http://lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1406/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Cultivating-artful-gratefulness.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.

cyn-sunglass-mustard – selfie-no makeup.jpg

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. 

BE StarYouAre_Millennials to Boomers Cover.jpeg Cynthia Brian'Growing with the Goddess Gardener book copy.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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Wild and Free!

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
Wild and Free!

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“I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. ” Henry David Thoreau

Mother Nature has an astounding way of rebounding. The blackened, charred hills behind my house from the October wildfire are now a carpet of emerald green grass accessorized by a super bloom of glorious orange California poppies, and tall, bright yellow mustard. My orchard is blanketed with a plethora of colorful wildflowers mixed with the blooms from seeds either scattered by the wind or me at the end of autumn when the first rains drizzled onto our parched earth. Nigella, morning glory, nasturtium, calendula, statice, euphorbia, chamomile, lupin, daisy, yarrow, and more. My fruit trees have been a succession of flowering petals and delicate fragrance, forecasting a bounty of fresh treats to come. 

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After six weeks of staying-at-home, my garden is more alive and gorgeous than ever. The sky is blue and free of jet streams. The heady perfume of jasmine, lilacs, and wisteria waft through the clean air. The birds are singing as they build their nests. Trotting turkeys “gobble gobble”, bowing to one another, then gobbling again in their quest for mates. Untamed vines tangle their tendrils up tree trunks, along wires, and onto fences. Tulip, rose, lavender, iris, azaleas geranium, pelargonium, cyclamen, vinca, bird of paradise, and a plethora of other plants are a parade of festivity. Drifts of daffodils and mounds of grape hyacinth continue to add color and liveliness. Herbs and leafy greens are harvested daily to add nutrition and zest to meals. Freshly picked as needed, oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, and tangelos provide plenty of vitamin C to keep my family well. My spirits are soaring with gratitude for my garden. I am healthy and happy as I witness spring unfurl in all its glory. I may not be interacting with people, but I am intensely involved with living beings in every moment I spend outdoors. Hopefully, with people ensconced at home, our planet is healing and rebuilding its strength. 

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The natural world is wild and free. Humans have the power and the responsibility to save our planet. In this beautiful month, be grateful for everything we are and everything we have. Refocus and reclaim your positivity. Reduce stress and anxiety by going where the wild things are…hills, fields, and your garden. Grow yourself!

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for May

PROVIDE security for birds by building a nest box for the birds you want to attract. Place it in the shade with a clear flight path to the entrance. 

SOW for succession to provide pollinators a buffet throughout the growing season.

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SAVE your back and build a raised bed. It’s easy if you enjoy DIY projects. When you wire the bottom, you won’t have gophers or other diggers eating your crops.

INVOLVE your kids in gardening by allowing them to grow seeds that feature a rainbow of colors to fill their plates. Red radishes, orange carrots, green peppers, purple beets, and an array of lettuces will sprout quickly.

PLANT aromatic herbs and nutritious vegetables that will ensure the health of your family. Beans, peas, eggplant, broccoli, potatoes, cabbage, and turnips. Towards the end of the month, add tomatoes to your plot.

TRELLIS your vining plants such as wisteria, jasmine, and bower plants.

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TOWER gardens are a great alternative if you have a small space. Find ready-made options online.

CHECK sprinklers and irrigation systems for leaks. 

FERTILIZE containers as needed. Plants in pots lose nutrients more quickly than those planted in the ground.

SPRUCE up your patio to prepare for entertaining. Power wash hard surfaces and get ready to celebrate a Mother’s Day picnic at home.

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SOW annuals now in a rich soil mixture.  Marigolds, cosmos, zinnias, and bachelor buttons are excellent choices for a showy summer.

MULCH your garden with grass clippings, chopped leaves, and other organic composts to reduce weeds.

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

DEADHEAD spent blossoms from any annuals or perennials to encourage continuous blooming.

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PRUNE back daffodil leaves only when they are yellow and crispy. 

THROW bait to eradicate snails and slugs from devouring new sprouts.

READ my books available from https://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store. To avoid shipping charges, I will leave your enhanced package outside my office door for you. There will be no personal contact.

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MOW your lawn without the bag at least every other week. This allows the nitrogen and nutrients that are in the grass to nurture the growing blades. 

EAT the flowers from nasturtiums, roses, arugula, cilantro, thyme, roses, basil, and sage. They add flavor and beauty to many dishes.

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CUT a branch from a flowering tree, like cherry, for a striking indoor statement.

CREATE stunning aromatic bouquets with blooming lilacs, wisteria, jasmine, and roses,

REGISTER your yard or garden as a Certified Wildlife Habitat at https://www.nwf.org/CertifiedWildlifeHabitat. The $20 fee supports wildlife.

FOLLOW up ground fertilizing of flowers, perennials, vegetables, and fruits with foliar and micro-nutrients at appropriate times during the growing season.

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EAT fresh fruits and veggies, especially those you grow yourself.

SLEEP seven to eight hours every day to keep your immune system strong.

BREATHE and know that the sun is going to shine tomorrow.

It may take some months before we are social gathering again. For those of us who usually shake hands or hug, we may be wise to take the advice of the World Health Organization and begin bowing. Or do as I learned in India last year: clasp hands in prayer, bow, and whisper Namaste. Although we are apart, we are together, and we can view this time as a learning experience. Get thee into thy garden. Grow thyself! Be wild and free.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay home.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos and more at http://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1405/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Wild-and-free.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.

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 is available for virtual writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures. www.CynthiaBrian.com

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

 

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Gardening is NOT Canceled!

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
Gardening is NOT Canceled!

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By Cynthia Brian 

“We have it in our power to begin the world again.”

Thomas Paine

What a difference a day makes! Who could have ever predicted that as the vernal equinox approached in the Northern Hemisphere the entire world would be mandated to stay home, pause, and practice social distancing?

Are you in compliance? As adults, we have the ability and the responsibility to be role models in keeping ourselves and our families safe and healthy whilst we are housebound. Thankfully, spring has sprung and our garden can be our protective sanctuary and our personal oasis. Although we can’t share our gardens personally with others, we can go outside to exercise, dig in the dirt, and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.  It’s time to develop our green thumbs as gardening is open and we have the time.

In the weeks since I’ve closed my StarStyle® Productions LLC office to shelter-in-place, my garden has been my refuge and my workplace. Although I won’t be consulting or coaching in person, I am working for hire via SKYPE, ZOOM, and phone to offer assistance when needed. I’ve decided to reframe this crisis as a positive time-out to rebalance, readjust, rejuvenate, and rest. Instead of rushing to cross items off my to-do list, I can pace myself and enjoy the process of weeding, sowing, planting, pruning, cleaning, and repairing. The fruit trees in my orchard are gloriously full of blooms, while spring-flowering trees and shrubs are triumphant in their abundance of pretty petals. It’s been a joy to stroll through the landscape shooting photos of the emerging rebirth. Every day something new sprouts and I am so grateful to be able to witness Mother Nature in action. Taking snips of branches in bloom and flowers unfurling, I am filling my indoor spaces with hope for a healthy future.

When one of my girlfriends, Nancy Roetzer, retired from school teaching, she began taking flower arranging classes through the adult center. Her bouquets and arrangements are inspired by her hikes in the woods, and especially by the many waterfalls, she has experienced. Her waterfall style floral design shows movement, flow, and layering. Featured in this issue is a spectacular showstopper using tulips, roses, carnations, cushion spray chrysanthemums (Dendranthema), cone bush (Leucadendron), ferns, vines, and moss. 

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What a terrific idea to experiment with creating floral displays during these dark days! Whether we cut a few stems and add them to a whimsical vessel or decide to be more formal with our innovations, this is an opportune moment to get our ingenuity fueled and fired. 

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We do have it in our power to begin the world anew. Listen to and abide by the mandates of the experts. We may not be able to predict the course of the virus, but we do have agency over our actions and reactions. My April Gardening Guide provides a plethora of ideas to keep you occupied, safe, happy, and healthy as we navigate the next month together and apart. 

Enjoy the blossoms, bouquets, and the colorful photos of our developing spring, a reminder that life goes on. Gardening is NOT canceled.

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for April

  • SOW seeds that will attract birds to your garden. Suggestions include coneflower, anise hyssop, bachelor’s button, Mexican sunflower, cosmos, and black-eyed Susan.
  • SHOOT photos of the abundant flowering trees including tulip magnolia, crabapple, peach, plum, prune, cherry, pear, and apple.
  • cu-tulip tree.jpg.jpghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1403/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Blossoms-and-bouquets-gardening-is-not-canceled.html
  • CLEAN debris from berms and drainage ditches to prevent flooding. The soil and leaves can be added to your compost pile.
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  • PULL weeds while the ground is soft.
  • PLAN your vegetable garden for the foods you love the most. 
  • PLANT seeds of greens, beets, carrots, and turnips now.
  • CUT a branch or two from your favorite flowering trees or shrubs. Redbuds, crabapple, plum, and peach are glorious in vases.
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  • INTRODUCE plants that will make you smile. I planted sunflowers, sweet peas, nasturtiums, and purple hyacinth bean. 
  • TAKE a garden class on-line or watch YouTube videos with gardening tips. 
  • MAKE teas and cocktails from herbs you grow including mint, rosemary, sage, and fennel.
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  • REPOT houseplants.
  • BOOST your immune system with a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, and fatty fish. Adopt a Mediterranean style of eating.  
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  • WALK around your garden to admire the spring growth.
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  • BUILD a planter box.
  • ORDER gardening books to read. Be inspired and motivated by Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers available at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 
  • Cynthia Brian'Growing with the Goddess Gardener book copy.jpg BE StarYouAre_Millennials to Boomers Cover.jpeg Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul.jpg
  • INHALE the perfume of fragrant plants. Roses are blooming and fruit blossoms are delightful.
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  • LOWER your stress by strolling alone in the outdoors amongst trees and on trails.
  • MEDITATE in your garden, or on your balcony, patio, or porch.
  • LISTEN to the birds, frogs, and insects as they begin their spring songs.
  • NOURISH your spirit by sitting by a fountain or pond. 
  • EAT plenty of fresh citruses, especially homegrown, to increase your vitamin C intake. Oranges, tangelos, tangerines, grapefruit, and lemons are ripe and ready for picking.
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  • EXERCISE includes all gardening chores: raking sweeping, weeding, lifting, pruning, planting, digging, fertilizing, and chopping wood. Workout outside.
  • TAKE a nap and on a warm day, get your z’s outside in the fresh air.
  • SHARE your garden skills with your children. Let them plant seeds of vegetables and herbs they want to eat. 
  • FERTILIZE lawns. Lawn food is available at your local hardware store.
  • GROW your own bouquets. Create a stunning arrangement with a variety of roses, stock, tulips, iris, calla lilies, and mock orange. 
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  • BEE friendly by planting three or four types of native wildflowers to attract the honey gatherers as well as pest-resistant varieties of flowers, shrubs, trees, and vegetables, thus eliminating pesticides. I’ve sown California poppies, lupines, bee balm, and morning glories.
  • WATCH the blossoms in the breeze float to the ground like snowflakes. 
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  • PREPARE your garden patches to sow seeds of potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant by rotating these crops. For best production, do not plant these in the same place every year.
  • ENJOY a peaceful Passover and Easter without an in-person gathering.
  • STAY informed about Covid-19 depending only on reliable information. Visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov; 

The World Health Organization at  https://www.who.int; 

State Department: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-19-information.html; 

Contra Costa County Health Department at https://www.coronavirus.cchealth.org; 

Contra Costa County Office at https://www.contracosta.ca.gov/

  • STAY POSITIVE!
  • STAY SAFE! 
  • STAY HEALTHY!
  • STAY HOME! 
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Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1403/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Blossoms-and-bouquets-gardening-is-not-canceled.html

Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia Brian 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 upbeat StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

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-storeCynthia Brian books banner.jpg. 

 

Hire Cynthia for writing projects and virtual garden consults or lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

cyn-gree--caa lily.jpg

 

Spring Ahead

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Empowerment
Spring Ahead

blush camellia.jpg

“Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.” From Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

With the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus Corvid-19 a pandemic, daily living as well as travel is interrupted. While we need to be alert and prepared, we can not panic. My method of staying healthy while diminishing anxiety during these very troubling times is to avoid crowds by going into my garden. 

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The vernal equinox is only three days away, yet we have been experiencing spring since the first days of February. The cows are munching on the green grass in the hills, the frogs are croaking their mating calls, and gardens are bursting with color. Other than the copious dancing daffodils, nothing spells spring more than abundant camellia blooms, the eye-catching Chinese fringe shrub, and the fragrance of both freesia and hyacinth. Garden chores performed in the fall is paying dividends now.

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In the South, camellias are known as the “belles” of the plant world. There are over 30,000 cultivars with blooms in many shades of red, pink, purple, and white. Some feature double petals, others look like roses or peonies. Most species prefer shade to semi-shade thriving in well-drained acidic soil. They are drought-tolerant and best of all, depending on the species, blooms can begin in the fall continuing through the beginning of summer. Float blooms in a shallow bowl for a pretty centerpiece. Make sure to pick up fallen blossoms.

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A fabulous foundation plant for any garden is the Chinese fringe flower, a fast-growing shrub that provides evergreen foliage and a strong structure to the garden.  In spring, showy, frilly fringes of pink cover the plant. Prune the plant to keep it the size you desire knowing that it can grow to 20 feet. A great perk is that you can propagate with stem cuttings and even make a border or a wall of fringe. Did I mention the flowers boast a sweet aroma as well? 

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Freesias are bulbs that are grown for their beautiful scent as well as their gorgeous variety of colors. I happen to adore the upward-facing bells of the blue or purple freesia but the yellow, white, pink, and red produce gorgeous presentations as well. These bulbs multiply and come up just as spring springs forward year after year. They are deer and rabbit resistant and very easy to grow. Cut a handful for a long-lasting indoor arrangement that provides beauty and perfume.

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Hyacinths are dramatic with rich, deep blooms in many colors. Like freesia, they make excellent cut flowers, can be grown in containers, are deer resistant, and bee magnets. Their heady scent exudes from both their flowers and their leaves. Plant them along pathways, stairs, and in the front part of your garden to savor their elegance and aromatic character. They, too, will surprise you each year, sprouting as the sunshine warms the earth to delight the senses.

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Consider adding any of these favorite garden specimens to your environs for perennial spring enchantment.

New Fire Code on the Horizon that Affects Landscapes

Moraga-Orinda Fire District Chief Dave Winnacker has a plan to declare all areas in our district as Wildland Urban Interface in the fire code to prevent insurance companies from canceling policies since Lamorinda is designated a fire zone. When it comes to landscaping, the proposed code would require a two-foot area away from current structures and three feet on new construction to be cleared without any combustible materials. These materials include wood bark, mulch, and plants that are growing taller than two feet. Ground coverings that would be allowed would be green grass, river rock, gravel, crushed granite, or even bare earth. Some trees will need to be removed, especially eucalyptus, pine, bamboo, and junipers if they are within six feet of the structure. This new code is not yet in effect, but with spring on the horizon, this is a great time to start cleaning up your landscape to make it more fireproof. 

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for March

  • START seeds as soon as the soil is warm enough. If you are anxious, start your crops indoors near a south-facing window or use a fluorescent light for 12 or more hours per day.
  • CLEAN out perennial beds now and prepare the soil for replanting.
  • WELCOME home the migrating birds with fresh water in the fountain and seed in the feeder. 
  • PLANT edibles amongst your ornamentals. Lettuces, parsley, dill, and basil are pretty as well as delicious. 
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  • DIG out and replace older woody lavender bushes. Lavender thrives for about 5 or 6 years then is ready for the compost pile.
  • ADJUST your lawnmower to a higher setting and allow the clippings to nourish the soil.
  • PLANT host plants for the butterflies such as milkweed and dogwood.  Leave a patch of dense vegetation for protection from inclement weather and a small mud puddle to quench their thirst.
  • INVEST in a well-made wheelbarrow or hand truck to haul heavy bags of soil, rocks, or pots of plants.
  • RESEED lawns with the people, pet, and planet-friendly Pearl’s Premium lawn seed available in 5 or 25-pound bags of a sunny mix, shade mix, or sun/shade seed blend. The roots go to 4 feet needing 50-75% water making for a better drought-tolerant lawn. To order, visit www.PearlsPremium.com. Use discount code STAR20. 
  • EMPTY all vessels that contain water as mosquito larvae is already hatching. 
  • PICK up fallen camellias and dispose of them. Camellia blooms are abundant this year and they drop daily. Do not allow the decayed petals to stay on the ground to avoid damage to the mother plant. If you notice dark brown veins in the petals, your camellia may be suffering from petal blight. Treat weekly with a foliar fungicide.
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  • PRUNE the new wood on your woodland or panicle hydrangeas down to 18-24 inches now to encourage fuller blooms later.
  • STAY informed about Covid-19 only via reliable information. Visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov or The World Health Organization at  https://www.who.int for updates. State Department: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-19-information.html
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May hope traverse our nights and bring us all a brighter morning free of woes. Take a breath and inhale spring.

Stay healthy, be well, and be safe.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Spring.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1402/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Spring-ahead.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.

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. 

cyntha brian with books.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Let the Sun Shine In!

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Empowerment
Let the Sun Shine In!

Acacia in full bloom.jpg

“The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world’s joy” 

Henry Ward Beecher 

It’s been at least seven years since we’ve enjoyed a warm, sun-filled February. Being accustomed to cold, dreary, gray days in the months of Aquarius and Pisces, this year buoyed my spirits immensely even though I know that we need rain. I admit I thoroughly lapped up those 70 plus degree days spending hours in the garden weeding, pruning, and planting with a break to Bodega Bay to ride a bike on the beach, inhale the salt air, and watch the glorious sunset. If winter is going to be mild and bright, why not enjoy it?

The tulip magnolias, peach, plum, and pear trees are in full bloom. The bees are busy buzzing their business in the blossoms. Sweet scents of narcissi, stock, and freesia fill the air. Oxalis, also known as shamrock, carpets vineyards, trails, and roadsides. Wisteria and lilac are budded, ready to burst any day. Early spring erupted in mid-February, a full month ahead of schedule. In many Northern California areas, temperatures have been in the mid-80s. If it wasn’t for water shortages and the rising trajectory of global warming, we could all be rejoicing. Instead, we may need to chant and dance for rainfall to ward off another summer drought.

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Compost will be your most important gardening ingredient this season. By turning organic waste into humus, you will be feeding your plants in the same manner that Mother Nature has been nurturing the planet since the beginning of time. Compost will help your plants retain moisture, curtail erosion, maintain a constant temperature, and it will enrich your soil. It’s so simple to make that everyone can easily do it. 

Recipe for Compost

In an open pile or composting bin, add both green and dry plant matter plus eggshells, coffee grinds, tea leaves, and fish bones. Green matter includes grass clippings, vegetables, weeds without seeds, peelings, and green leaves. Dry matter includes paper, straw, twigs, fall leaves, and dried stalks. Don’t add any animal feces, diseased plants, or meat products. Moisten everything without soaking it and turn with a pitchfork at least weekly. Worms may be added for speedier results. The compost will cook and steam. Add water as necessary if the pile is too dry. Your compost is ready to return to your garden when it smells earthy, sweet, and looks like a crumbly chocolate cake. I recommend creating two or three different piles as they will finish at different times and you can always have a batch cooking. Making your own compost is an excellent way to recycle with almost zero waste. As an added bonus it is FREE plant food!

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for March

CREATE simple arrangements with branches cut from blooming peach, pear, or plums. Add a few daffodils or freesias.

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BLOW the “angel” seeds of dandelions if you want dandelions growing in your garden. (This was a favorite past time as a child, although we weren’t allowed to blow “angels” into the lawn.) Dandelions are nutritious and delicious in salads and sautés and they attract quail.

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PICK lettuce, parsley, arugula, Swiss chard, and baby mustard to add to meals.

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MAKE an artful wall-hanging using a variety of succulents.

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ADMIRE the tulip magnolias as they emerge or cut a stem to enjoy indoors.

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WATCH for aphids, moths, slugs, and snails on artichoke plants as they mature. Blast the leaves with water if you see any infestation.

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TALK to your doctor if you are experiencing pollen-related allergies. Pollen fertilizes plants but causes misery for sufferers. Acacia trees are beautiful in bloom but may trigger hay fever or asthma.

AERATE and de-thatch lawns if necessary. Be prepared to scatter seeds and fertilizer before a rain.

SHOOT lots of photos of spring unfolding. 

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BEFORE recycling empty milk cartons, fill with water to use on houseplants. The residual calcium is good for the plants and it also rinses clean the cartons for the bins.

BUY your favorite seed packets in anticipation of sowing.

SPREAD alfalfa pellets mixed with diatomaceous earth around your rose bushes to promote large blooms and healthy plants.

The vernal equinox is still three weeks away. The sun is shining on our gardens and for all of us. It’s playtime. 

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing!

 

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1401/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Let-the-sunshine-in.html

Cherry Plum tree in bloom.jpg

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, 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

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

cyn-bike-doran beacn.jpg

www.GoddessGardener.com

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