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Cynthia Brian’s March Garden Guide

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Cynthia Brian’s March Garden Guide

cyn with pigeon, Anaky - 2

“Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land” Aido Leopold

Sunshine and patchy clouds. Mostly sunny and very warm. Cloudy with rain possible. Times of clouds and sun. A thunderstorm in the afternoon. Sunny. Mostly sunny. Colder with occasional rain. Sunshine!

If you are like me, you are checking the online weather channels to determine when our gardens will be getting a shower. Unfortunately the weather predictions are not accurate. The conversations around the water cooler as well as at the dinner table revolve more and more about the weather than anything else. While we see stories on the news of “the worst winter in Boston”, California is facing the driest three-year period in California history, stretching back to the Gold Rush in 1850.

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Farmers throughout California indicate their livelihoods are at stake, with their needed water levels cut by nearly 25%. Snowfall in the Sierras is at dismal levels. Beyond California, the world is suffering with global droughts affecting over two billion people. Public awareness of the importance of conservation is an issue that can’t be watered down.

With spring just a few days away, and our weather totally incomprehensible, gardeners need to be vigilante and diligent when it comes to the needs of our landscape. You can conserve water while protecting the environment and your pocketbook by following a few of this month’s tips.

tulip arrangement

COMPOST your scraps, leaves, grass clippings, newspaper, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea leaves, and other organic materials. Keep your pile or bin wet, turn often, and be ready to reap rich matter to add to your garden.

MULCH, mulch, mulch. I know I sound like a broken record but by providing that extra three or four inches of top dressing in your garden, you are protecting your plants from heat, frost, and other weather conditions, conserving water, adding to the texture and absorption of the soil, and keeping erosion at bay. Mulch, mulch, mulch.

GROW your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs. You know what you put into your soil. You reap the nutritional benefits. You have control over water, fertilizer, and attraction of beneficial insects. Thyme, sage, oregano, and rosemary are all easy to grow in the ground or in pots adding perennial goodness to savory dishes.

START seedlings in half an orange or grapefruit after pulp has been removed. Put a hole in the bottom and when seedling is large enough, plant the entire rind in the garden.

INCREASE magnesium and sulfate in your garden by sprinkling Epson salt around plantings.

RID walkways and paths of weeds with a homemade brew of weed killer. Mix one gallon of white vinegar with one cup of table salt and one tablespoon of Dawn liquid dish soap. Use as a spray when the sun is shining. Do not use around lawns or flowerbeds.

CUT the neck off a large soda bottle and place over small pots planted with seeds to act as a mini greenhouse, eliminating the need for watering.

CLEAN bird feeders and birdbaths with a solution of soap, water, and bleach. Allow thorough drying before refilling to ward off avian diseases.

ALLOW moles to live in your landscape as garden helpers who eat snail larvae, grubs, and harmful insects while they aerate the dirt.

DIG out dandelions with the root attached. Use the leaves and flowers in salads and tea. Roast the root with a few drops of olive oil. Dandelion is a detoxifier, helping our liver and digestive system.

FERTILIZE lawns before or during a rain to increase root production, eliminate weeds, and add an emerald luster to your grass. If rainfall is not in the forecast, you will need to turn on your sprinklers. Choose a cool day to feed, water deeply, then infrequently thereafter.

SPRUCE up the patio furniture before spring has sprang. Use the weekend to get your lounge chairs ready for relaxation and outdoor fun.

INSPECT irrigation pipes and sprinkler systems for leaks. A small drip can equal a loss of 50 gallons a month while a steady drip could equate to more than 2500 gallons of wasted water.

REPLACE washers in hoses as they deteriorate over time. If you are still getting a spray from the faucet connection, replace the coupling.

REPAIR and sharpen gardening tools, including lawn mowers, shredders, and shears.

PLANT gaillardia, the National Garden Bureau plant of 2015. The majority of the twenty-three species are perennial. The common name is “blanket flower”, named after a talented Native American weaver who, when she died, her grave was “blanketed” with colorful flowers mimicking the intricate blankets she wove.

IMPROVE air quality with sansevieria, commonly called snake plant, and also known as mother-in-law’s tongue. Snake plant is one of the best filtering plants of pollution. It grows in low light and loves humidity.

USHER in spring with an attractive arrangement of calla lilies and a variety of daffodils scattered amidst yellow succulent blooms.

CELEBRATE St. Patrick’s Day with a container of oxalis, also known as shamrocks.

ENJOY the blooms of camellias, azaleas, tulips, bearded iris, and numerous annuals this month as they exhibit their cavalcade of colors.

WELCOME the equinox, a celebration of equal hours of day and night, by dancing, singing, and frolicking in the ferns. (Okay, frolic where you wish!)

snake plant

Wishing you the luck of the Irish and a harmonic vernal rebirth. Do your part to conserve our natural resources.

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

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thyme in a pot

©2015
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.

Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best selling author, speaker, coach, and host of the radio show, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasting live every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT on the Voice America Network.. She also is the creator and producer of Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501c3 charity.

Why We Garden Part 2, Digging Deep-Gardening with Cynthia Brian

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Why We Garden Part 2, Digging Deep-Gardening with Cynthia Brian

 

winter arrangement

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” ~ Albert Camus

After zero precipitation in January, we reveled in the rains of early February. Soon thereafter, the sun shone brightly again and spring appears to be arriving a month early. My flowering peach, plum, and pear trees have all completed their burst of color and my landscape is alive with blooming daffodils, tulips, iris, freesia, magnolia stellata, and periwinkle. Somehow we’ve managed to skip the normal dreariness of February and jump right into Camus’ invincible summer. A reader in Norway was shocked to read that bergenia blooms here in California in January while it doesn’t show it’s pretty petals in Northern Europe until May. Which brings me to more reasons why I love to garden…

walking ferns

Part 2

Surprises
As gardeners we know that we are not in charge. No matter how much we attempt to control the outside forces, Mother Nature rules. We can no longer say that daffodils bloom in March or gladioli in summer. Our climate is changing and we are constantly surprised at what pops up, when. Gardeners are stewards of the earth and we adapt to her unpredictability.

Love
Gardens evoke love. The birds and bees are making love and passion is in the garden air.
How many of us chose a beautiful garden for our wedding nuptials or as the setting for birthdays, showers, graduations, and other celebrations? Since I was a child, our family gatherings were always held in a garden, weather permitting. My husband and I, as well as all of my siblings, held our wedding receptions in the spectacular gardens of our ranch. My mother planted for months creating an artistic palette using the colors each of us had chosen for our special day. Now that is love!

Responsibility
After several decades of marriage, whenever I am asked how to maintain a relationship, my advice has always been to become a gardener. It takes responsibility to be a gardener. We have to be attentive to the needs of each individual specimen. We need to know when to water, when to prune, when to fertilize, when to transplant. This is responsibility. If you want to grow a relationship, start with a plant. For first timers, I recommend a spider plant. They don’t demand much, and they prosper with neglect. Or, if you prefer a colorful connection, orchids are not fussy prima donnas, yet they are radiantly beautiful.

Patience
A tomato can’t be rushed. Nor can a carrot, or a rose, or a petunia. We could stand on top of the vine all day long shouting, prodding, encouraging, but our efforts will not yield a faster growth. Every plant is going to grow in the time it takes to do so. Patience is the keystone of a gardener’s life. Gardening is especially good for children to teach them the value of patience. For every time, every season, there is a purpose, and it is worth waiting for.

Spontaneity
Seeds fly through the air and grow where they fall. Vegetables, weeds, and flowers are bed-mates. No matter how carefully we curate our creations, the birds, bees, butterflies, and wildlife always have something else in store for us. Just today I found holly growing under my camellia tree. I didn’t put it there and it will need to be transplanted, but I was so excited I kicked up my heels and wanted to fly a kite!

Curiosity
The garden is a world of wonder and exploration. Discovering the tiny salamander or croaking frog by the pond, or the odd color in the parsnip excites us. Get down on your knees and investigate the insects or take a closer look at the stamen in the cala lily. Stick your nose in a Daphne bloom and inhale the perfume. Be curious…there is so much to learn.

Spirituality
We don’t have to be religious to be spiritual. The greatest cathedral in the world cannot match the temple of Mother Nature. I am forever in awe and wonder at the miracle of our natural world. When I am in the garden I feel as one with all living creatures. I understand that we are all connected-the rocks, the water, the plants, the sky, the animals. We are all living, breathing, magical creations united in a giant prayer of glory.

Mistakes
Perhaps one of the most important lessons from the garden is that there are no mistakes. Failure is fertilizer. We heap our failures on the compost pile to grow a new garden. Gardens give us permission to be human, to make mistakes and to grow stronger and smarter from our errors. Life is never quiet or dull, and everything is a blessing and a lesson in the garden.

May you discover love in the garden and appreciate the spontaneity and generosity that nature offers.

Happy Gardening, happy growing.

white tulip magnolia

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Reminders
PURCHASE summer bulbs of your choice, but don’t be tempted to plant until the ground warms.

AERATE lawns while the ground is wet to allow for moisture to sink to the roots.

FERTILIZE citrus, specifically our beloved Meyer lemons, by the end of the month.

PLANT bare root roses and bare root fruit trees through the end of February. Many are now on sale so make sure to check the plant carefully for damage or dryness before purchasing. Prune back any damaged or dry root, soak in water for at least a day before planting.

SHARPEN tools in preparation for spring.

CONTINUE to pick up or rake fallen camellia blooms to keep your bush healthy.

cala lily-jan
©2015
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.
Read the full article here!
Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best selling author, speaker, coach, and host of the radio show, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasting live every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT on the Voice America Network.. She also is the creator and producer of Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501c3 charity.

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for December

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for December

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Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour. –John Boswell

With less than three more weeks of autumn, we look forward to the festivities of December. Like a little child, I adore the holidays, the sparkling lights, the smells of gingerbread, and the good cheer circulating among people everywhere. However, I’ve always been distressed that so many retail establishments begin showcasing Christmas décor in September diminishing the enjoyment of that first weekend after Thanksgiving when yuletide revelry is traditionally unveiled. According to a 2013 consumer research study, 81% of people visiting stores are extremely annoyed by the three-month premature Christmas jingles blasting from the sound system. Fortunately, most nurseries and garden centers live in the moment displaying the appropriate embellishments for the current season. It’s a pleasure to witness the plethora of firs, pines, and other evergreens that will soon become decorated trees and inviting wreaths in local homes.  Kalanchoe, Christmas cactus, cyclamen, poinsettia, fuchsia, anthuriums, and pansies are in bloom, brightening the darker days. Grateful for the recent rains, our garden hours are winding down just in time to gather our golden moments making memories at fun-filled holiday gatherings with family and friends. It’s recharging time. Put your feet up, drink hot cocoa, kindle the fire, and smell the last of the roses before Santa Claus comes to town.

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GIFT packets of seeds for the holidays. Easy grow treasures include cosmos, peas, sunflowers, and morning glory. Give a wooden salad bowl filled with seeds of lettuce, peppers, cucumbers, basil, and arugula.

FEED your trees while they are dormant. Underground the roots are active and can use the nutrient boost.

PLANT nutrient rich bok choy in your garden. The fiber and sulfur compounds prevent against cancer and bok choy is rich in vitamins A and C. Bok Choy contains 100% of your daily beta carotene, an antioxidant the boosts your immune system and maintains vision. It’s also delicious chopped in salads, steamed, or added to soups. Do you need more reasons to add this ancient Chinese veggie to your planting list

TAKE cuttings of coleus, pelargoniums, and geraniums before you prune them back for the winter. Put the stems in a jar of water and when they root, you can transplant them to use indoors.

DIVIDE your peonies daylilies, and bearded iris if you didn’t do it last month. Exchange with friends or find new needy places in your December garden.

BRING the tropics home by adding red bromeliads or anthuriums to your holiday décor.

SAVE birds by going organic. Provide seeds, berries, and safe nesting areas. Add a few native plants to your landscape that native birds already enjoy or stop pruning roses to allow the rosehips to form and feed our flying friends.

PROTECT roses from extreme temperature changes by covering plants with eight to ten inches of mulch above the crown. 

FEED the soil, not the plants. Continue adding organic materials including hay, leaves, and compost to enrich your soil over winter.

SPREAD seeds of a cover crop on any bare soil to prevent erosion, save water, increase soil fertility, and create habitats for beneficial insects.

SUPPORT a vole, mole, gopher, and rat free environment by incorporating owl nesting homes. Habitat for owls can be as simple as brush piles or construct a true owl nesting box in an old tree positioned at a minimum ten to fifteen feet off the ground. A family of owls will scarf down several thousand rodents during a season as the young consume two to four a night. No need for harmful poisons when you have a wise owl living chez vous.

GROW wisteria by collecting the seeds from the popped pods. Soak in water for three or four days, scrape off the hard exterior and plant in pots. Within four to six weeks, sprouts will form and you can transplant to an area in your garden that will support this very hardy twining vine. Wisteria can also be trained to be a tree. It could take five to fifteen years to bloom and has the potential to live for over five hundred years!  Now that is a legacy of growing.

CONTINUE reusing your gray water for outdoor container plants that won’t benefit from any rainy weather. Every drop you save is crucial as we are not out of the drought woods yet, even with the rainy days.

DECK the halls with boughs of holly, pyracantha, cotoneaster, magnolia cones, rose hips, or any other merry berry!

VISIT 5 A Rent a Space, 455 Moraga Rd #F in Moraga on December 13 between 11-1:30 to have your children write Letters to Santa with me and volunteers from Be the Star You Are!® charity. I’ll have seeds for you, and the kiddies will get candy, cookies, cocoa, and caroling! Info: http://www.btsya.com/events_calendar.html

REST, relax, and rejuvenate. It’s break time in the garden. 

Happy gardening, happy growing, happy holiday glowing!

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Cynthia Brian

Read more at Lamorinda Weekly 

©2014

Cynthia Brian

The Goddess Gardener

Starstyle® Productions, llc

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

925-377-STAR

I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.  

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Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best selling author, speaker, coach, and host of the radio show, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasting live every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT on the Voice America Network.. She also is the creator and producer of Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501c3 charity.

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for November By Cynthia Brian

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for November By Cynthia Brian

Garden

“There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky.” Percy Bysshe Shelley

With the approach of Thanksgiving, it is finally feeling like autumn with cooler and crisper air, changing of the leaves, and chrysanthemums blooming. I picked my first bouquet of narcissi of the season on October 10, a full month earlier than last year. Our climate is changing and as gardeners we struggle to keep pace. November is the best time to begin planting spring blooming bulbs. Once the ground chills to about 55 degrees, start the process of planting naturalizing narcissi as well as other bulbs in well-drained sandy loam where they’ll receive at least six hours of sunlight daily. With our dense, nutrition lacking clay soil, we need to amend with sand, peat moss, and compost before digging the holes. All flower bulbs require neutral PH soil around 7.0 in order to develop a strong root system that supports flowers. Mother Nature is busy spreading her wild seeds via the wind, birds, animal fur, and even our stocking feet. Most flowers need the next few colder months to rest and germinate. Before the geese head south, walk around your yard to ponder what you’ll want to improve, include, edit, or change for the spring. Our year of outdoor work is winding down as our celebration of gratitude approaches. Get ready for a respite!

Garden

⎫ PROTECT plant roots by mulching your garden.

⎫ GRIND fallen leaves with a mower to reduce particle size and increase decomposition time.

⎫ TURN the soil in your vegetable garden, pull out any unwanted growers such as mint, add buckets of compost, and plant a nitrogen rich cover crop like fava beans or clover. Blanket the ground with straw and continue mulching until planting time in spring.

⎫ SUPPRESS weeds while enriching the soil by laying newspaper (three or four sheets) on your bare earth. The newspaper will biodegrade and the zinc in the inc adds nutrients to the mulch. Cover with straw, leaves, or wood chips to continue adding nutrients.

⎫ DIG up bulblets of mother bulbs with numerous offshoots. Separate and replant in other areas.

⎫ SOAK ranunculus and anemone tubers in tepid water overnight or for at least three or four hours before planting three inches deep and six inches apart in well-draining soil in full sunlight.

⎫ PLANT spring bulbs beginning this month. Tulips and crocus need to be refrigerated for at least four weeks before being dug. Make sure to remove all fruit or vegetables from the fridge to discourage rotting from ethylene gases. Keep all bulbs away from sunlight and in a dark place before planting. For blooms that last throughout the spring season, stagger planting days for daffodils, Dutch iris, muscari, scilla, and galanthus.

⎫ CHECK out an attractive alternative to downspouts with the solid copper Rain Chains. With several styles and sizes to suit every home, you now have the ability to direct water to your garden and at the same time enhance the beauty of your exteriors. Visit www.rainchainsdirect.com or call855-843-7246 for more information.

⎫ FORCE hardy flower bulbs of amaryllis, freesias, and paperwhites for Christmas blooming by potting them in sterile, neutral PH potting soil in an area where they will enjoy a temperature of 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit with good air circulation and low humidity. Give them a big drink of warm water, tamp down the soil, do not water again until green sprouts. Amaryllis sprout spectacular shows within eight weeks.

⎫ DEER proof your bulb garden with a collection of allium, fritillaria, English Bluebell, brodiaea, narcissus, crocus, anemone, hyacinth, and peony for a floral display that lasts from April through July.

⎫ CUT stalks of peonies to ground level and discard the cuttings as they are not good for compost. If your peonies didn’t bloom, they may be planted too deep. Dig them up this month, rework the soil, and replant ½ inch higher than soil level.

⎫ WASH patio furniture, pads, pillows, and accessories before covering or storing to avoid mildew, mice migrations, rust, and rot.

⎫ GROUP gaillardia and chrysanthemums along with grasses in a barrel for fabulous fall color. The National Garden Bureau has named Gaillardia “the” perennial to grow for 2015.

⎫ LOWER mower height as lawn growth slows. Reduce irrigation time, but continue to water until the rains arrive as grass needs the strength to be healthy for winter. If you didn’t fertilize in October, fertilizer now with an organic fall blend.

⎫ GUARD against an unexpected frost by watering deeply and covering susceptible shrubs with burlap, fabric, or blankets the afternoon before the cold arrives.

⎫ COLLECT rainwater in barrels or large garbage cans to use on your plants. (Fingers crossed that it does rain soon)

⎫ REDUCE your garden work out by seeking out plants that are identified as “compact”. Look for tags that say dwarf, patio, knee-high, tiny, or baby in the variety name. If a plant tag says “perfect for cut flowers” it will grow to be too large for a small space.

⎫ ADD artistic value to your landscape with hanging baskets, mirrors, lighting, antique wrought iron furniture, statuary, and water features.

⎫ CELEBRATE a month of gratitude with an arrangement of roses and anemones in warm sunset shades.

⎫ DECORATE for Thanksgiving with pumpkins around your outdoor seating areas.

Garden

Happy gardening and happy growing!

Cynthia Brian

Read article at Lamorinda Weekly 

 

Cynthia Brian

Starstyle® Productions, llc

The Goddess Gardener

Starstyle® Productions, llc

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

925-377-STAR

I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for October By Cynthia Brian

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for October By Cynthia Brian

Flowers

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” George Elliot

Fall is back! Our local trees are changing their coats from various colors of green to yellow, orange, red, gold, and brown. The weather is still warm during the day with cooler nights, offering gardeners the perfect opportunity to purchase and plant their favorite autumn trees, shrubs, and natives from well-stocked nurseries. As children and teens prepare costumes for Halloween, pumpkin patches welcome family exploration. Our vegetable gardens take their final bow and it’s time to prepare the soil for winter crops. Garlic, onions, and cool season greens including lettuce, spinach, chard, and mustard along with beets, turnips, parsnips, and other root vegetable are ready to be planted. It’s delicious autumn–and don’t you just wish you were a bird?

Pumpkins

  • ⎫ PRUNE vines, summer perennials, berry canes, and cut back out-of-bound ground covers.
  • ⎫ AERATE lawns and fertilize. Re-seed grass or install sod.
  • ⎫ PLANT winter annuals in October as the sun is still warming our days. Selections include cinerarias, primroses, violas, pansies, cyclamen, and ornamental cabbage.
  • ⎫ ADD an architectural texture to your landscape with the drought tolerant grasses such as Mexican Feather Grass, Red or White Fountain Grass, and Rattlesnake Grass.
  • ⎫ CONTROL snails and slugs with bowls of beer, Slugo, or Deadline.
  • ⎫ EXTEND the life of your Jack O’Lanterns by coating the cut sides with petroleum jelly.
  • ⎫ TRANSITION indoor plants that you have summered on the patio to the inside by repotting if necessary. Clean the top of the soil, inspect for insects, dispose of  dead leaves, and water thoroughly before placing in a sunny interior.
  • ⎫ PROTECT tender plants from a frosty night by covering with a sheet, blanket, or other non-plastic material.
  • ⎫ TUCK favorite spring blooming bulbs into your landscape beginning at the end of October through January. Dutch Iris and Daffodils are both deer and gopher resistant.
  • ⎫ DIVIDE calla lilies, daylilies, daisies, and naked ladies every few years for best blooms.
  • ⎫ GATHER pine needles from the base of pine trees to use as mulch around acid loving plants such as roses, azaleas, rhododendrons, fuchsias, camellias, and gardenias.
  • ⎫ BURSTS of color for the autumn garden are found with plumbago, gerbera, society garlic, sea lavender, salvia, penstemon, and hollyhock.
  • ⎫ DEADHEAD roses weekly for continuous blooms until hard pruning in January.
  • ⎫ COLLECT rose petals early in the morning to dry for potpourri and sachets.
  • ⎫ CUT asparagus stalks to within 3 or 4 inches from the ground.
  • ⎫ CREATE Pinterest boards or use apps to help you keep garden design ideas handy. Start now to think about your spring wish list.
  • ⎫ RAKE leaves to add to a compost pile or bin along with food scraps, egg shells, coffee grinds, tea bags, newspaper, and other organic matter. Within a few months, you’ll have a nutrient rich amendment for your soil.
  • ⎫ IDENITIFY trees you’ll love to include in your yard by perusing a new book, Landscaping with Trees by Scott Zanon.  Even though it profiles trees for residential and commercial properties in the Midwest, most of the specimens grow well in our area including maples, buckeyes, crabapples, dogwoods, magnolias, and many more.
  • ⎫ REMOVE leaves and fallen debris promptly from ponds and water features to keep the water clean.
  • ⎫ COLLECT seeds from your nasturtiums, cosmos, zinnias, marigolds, dahlias, and other annuals. Allow the pods to dry in a paper bag. Store in a cool, dark, dry place (shed, garage, closet) until next spring.
  • ⎫ WATER indoor plants once a month with a solution of 2 tablespoons of vinegar to a gallon of water to reduce salt build up and soil alkalinity.
  • ⎫ SCATTER seeds of lupine, California poppy, bachelor button, and larkspur. Scratch the soil to cover the seeds, discouraging birds and squirrels from dining.
  • ⎫ KEEP bird feeders full and fountains fresh as incentives for our feathered friends to become permanent bug eating residents.
  • ⎫ TRELLIS climbing vines. Potato vine, jasmine, honeysuckle, pink bower vine, and sweet potato vine make colorful, sweet smelling privacy screens.
  • ⎫ REDUCE irrigation to once a week and once the rain begins, turn off your automatic sprinklers.
  • ⎫ PICK up FREE seeds, potpourri, and garden book marks at the Be the Star You Are!® booth at the Moraga Pear and Wine Festival, Saturday. September 27 between 11-4pm.Participate in the story game and say hello to me. Sponsored by Lamorinda Weekly and Napa Valley Wealth Management.
  • ⎫ FERTILIZE evergreen shrubs, vines, and conifers immediately if you didn’t do so in September.
  • ⎫ ENCOURAGE red-tip photinia to be dense and bushy by sculpting and maintaining a height and width of 6 to 8 feet. If you don’t prune regularly, photonia become unmanageable twenty-foot trees.
  • ⎫ CHECK olive harvests for grub and maggot larvae. Only treatment for this pest is a pheromone trap.
  • ⎫ SEEK certified or experienced arborists to prune your favorite specimen trees. Remove a tree that has become too large for the space, intruding on foundations, or blocking views. Replace with appropriate sized trees, perhaps one that boasts autumn color.

Remember that fire season is still in full swing, so be cautious with outdoor grilling and open flames. Be vigilant about keeping a defensible perimeter around your property. Enjoy the final days of our Indian summer.

Happy gardening and happy growing!

Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian is the producer and host of Star Style® Be the Star You Are!® Radio and producer of Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio brought to the airwaves under the auspices of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 charity. Visit http://www.BetheStarYouAre.org and http://www.StarStyleRadio.com

Cynthia

 

Romancing the Stone, Digging Deep-Gardening By Cynthia Brian

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Romancing the Stone, Digging Deep-Gardening By Cynthia Brian

dry creeks-arroyo seco - 1

“When all the water has gone, only the largest stones will still remain in the riverbed.” African

The lack of water wasn’t a major issue back in 1999 when I was cast as the wife of a star named “Steve” on the TV series, Nash Bridges. At our rehearsal, this big bear of man walked up to me and exclaimed, “So, you are my wife. Hi, I’m Stone Cold!” Not recognizing him and thinking he was toying with me, I retorted, “And,you are my husband. Hi, I’m Hot Rocks!”  His bewildered look told me that my introduction was confusing. Little did I realize that Stone Cold was his name in the ring and that “Steve” was champion Steve Austin, hailed as one of the biggest stars of the World Wrestling Federation. After our first pebble parlay, we got along famously and I joked with him that one day I’d write about our “rocky” beginning.

Dry Creek-Brook - 5

Today, we are wrestling with the drought. There is not enough water to subsidize our landscapes and many people are wondering how we can win the fight to minimize our usage of H2O and still have an attractive garden. One solution is to romance the stone. I’m not talking about replacing your landscaping with the tacky white gravel of the 70’s, but instead installing an arroyo seco or dry creek which works not only as an alternative to a water feature, but becomes a useable water way when winter rains finally fall. Also called a rain garden, a dry brook will absorb and filter storm water preventing flooding, contamination, and soil erosion in winter while looking beautiful in the dry summer months.

Building a Dry Creek or Arroyo Seco.

dry creek garden

To be effective, a completed arroyo seco needs to mimic a small flowing river so that it is not only esthetically pleasing but can structurally channel run off water to an area where you need it.  The finished goal is to have it look as natural as possible.  In nature, streams twist, turn, and curve, formed by a mixture of large river rocks, big boulders, smaller pebbles, driftwood, and plants.

Before you begin, ask yourself a few questions:

Why do you want an arroyo seco?

What are your expectations for the results?

Where is the optimum location?

How long and how wide will it be?

Will it work with the overall style of your home and current landscaping?

Will it have to be engineered or is this a DIY project?

How much can you budget?

Steps for DIY

Building a dry creek is remarkably simple. You may need some help with labor and lifting, but the rest is a pleasurable do-it-yourself project.

  1. 1. Observe natural creeks or streams. Take lots of photos. You’ll notice that they don’t follow any pattern, but meander.
  2. 2. Begin and end in an area that could realistically be a creek bed.
  3. 3. Determine the size, making sure to make some areas are wider and that the flow is sloping downhill.
  4. 4. Remove any lawn and other vegetation. (Check with EBMUD if you are removing grass as you may qualify for a rebate by replacing your lawn with the new dry creek.)
  5. 5. Mark your design with landscape paint, flour, or spray paint.
  6. 6. Dig the creek bed twice as deep as it is wide. It’s easiest to shovel the dirt from the middle to build up the sides of the banks.
  7. 7. Tap the soil down firmly several times until it is solid.
  8. 8. Line the channel and sides with landscape clothe. You can purchase landscape cloth in rolls that are four feet by fifty feet for about $30.00 at hardware and garden centers. Attach the cloth to the dirt with inexpensive landscape pins, which cost about $6.00 a bag.
  9. 9. Cover the cloth with pea gravel and/or sand.  I use sand as a base, then gravel on top as it doesn’t wash away easily.
  10. 10. Visit a local quarry, masonry supplier, or landscape center that carries rocks and boulders to choose the various sizes to add to your creek. You will need to walk around and decide on the color and types of rocks you want. Again, think natural looking.
  11. 11. Order gravel, sand, rounded river rocks, lava rocks, and boulders for delivery. There is normally a delivery charge, but check around.
  12. 12. Fill the channel and sides with the various sizes of rounded river rocks. Add a few boulders randomly throughout.
  13. 13. Finish the installation with the creek ending in a spillway of gravel and rocks that segue to your landscape naturally or if you have a pond, end your creek here.
  14. 14. Tuck reeds, grasses, bulbs, flowers into crevices on the topsides and add whatever other plants fit your design and color desires.
  15. 15. If appropriate, add a flagstone bridge, or large stepping stones to walk across the stream.
  16. 16. Solar lights are a terrific enhancement for nightscaping.

Plants

plethora of flowers

The plants you choose will depend on your sun and shade exposure, water needs, size of your creek, location, and landscape design. You can make your dry creek elegant, woodsy, wild, or a combination. Slip a fern between the rocks and allow for cascading blossoms from lobelia or lantana to soften the system.  Choose specimens of interest from this minimal selection.

Ornamental grasses

Succulents

Iris

Wild Strawberry

Ferns

Hosta

Astilbe

Lantana

Lavender

Nasturtium

Baby roses

Daylilies

Sedum

Society Garlic

Trailing Rosemary

Shasta Daisy

Pussy Willow

Crocus

Cat Tails

Mexican Bush Sage

Calla Lilies

Canna

Dahlias

Horsetail

Corabells

Bleeding Heart

Lamb’s Ear

Sago Palm

Peony

Natives

Annuals (petunias, zinnia, cosmos, etc)

Trees that complement a dry creek may include willow, Japanese Maple, Birch, and Weeping Cherry.

Fifty eight percent of California is now experiencing exceptional drought conditions considered by experts to be worse than the droughts of 1924 and 1977. If we have learned anything from our state history, it is that water is a precious commodity. By improving our water conservation, water use efficiency, and getting creative with our water recycling, landscaping, and runoff prevention techniques, we will be able to weather the storm. Installing an arroyo seco addresses many of these sustainable strategies while beautifying our environment.

History repeated itself this month, inspiring me to write this article when I was cast in the earthquake film, San Andreas, with the second highest grossing actor in Hollywood, Dwayne Johnson, known as former pro wrestler in the WWF as The Rock. Stone Cold, The Rock…Mother Nature’s not so subtle hint that it is time to romance and rock it!

Happy Gardening! Happy Growing!

Read the full article Here!

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for August

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for August

bouganinvilla


“I long to accomplish a great and noble task,

but, it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks

as if they were great and noble.  ~ Helen Keller

There are many ways to tackle a task.

With a drought in full swing, those of us with lawns are investigating every avenue to keep our playgrounds verdant. In Los Angeles, lawn painting has become a new lucrative business using non-toxic permanent dye applied to stressed grass. The green application lasts about twelve weeks without color fade or run-off. When the rains come, most lawns grow back on their own.

On a different path to encourage continued love of gardening, a client of mine decided to take things into her own hands.  Her three-year old grand daughter was distressed that the pebbles the tyke planted in “Granny’s garden” hadn’t sprouted. Using twigs, broken jewelry pieces, shiny rocks from her floral arrangements and a glue gun, Grandma fashioned flowers to “grow” and planted them in the plot. The next day the excitement when the toddler witnessed the stone blooms was beyond priceless.

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in California, yet another sign that no matter what the climatic changes, gardeners will find a way to survive the elements to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.

roses & dark blue agapantha

  • ⎫ DIG technology with the Easy Gardening Tips app from Suntory®. It’s a digital magazine with tips on designing decks, summer canning, palette picking, and more. Download free at the App Store.
  • ⎫ STAKE tall gladiolus before they topple in the wind and protect from the deer who love to nibble the blooms.
  • ⎫ TASTE summer by mashing mint for garden fresh mojitos. Grow all mints in containers as mint is invasive.  Can you and your friends can drink that many juleps or mojitos?
  • ⎫ LEARN the difference between bees and yellow jackets. Bees feed all year long on the lavender and rosemary which require only rainwater, while the yellow jackets feed on your picnic or barbecue. Save the bees, call Vector Control for the yellow jackets. (925) 685-9301
  • ⎫ PERUSE spring bulb catalogues to get your order in this month for fall delivery.
  • ⎫ DEADHEAD roses weekly to elongate the blooming season.
  • ⎫ FILL hummingbird feeders with a homemade concoction of boiled water with sugar. No need to add food coloring.
  • ⎫ REPOT indoor plants in a one size larger container when they begin to droop. Roots need fresh potting soil to thrive.
  • ⎫ PRUNE clematis sparingly after blooms are finished. Save the dark stems, cut away the light stems. Depending on your variety, clematis bloom on new, old, or a combination of the two woods.
  • ⎫ ENROLL in a free composting class through Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority at http://www.wastediversion.org/app_pages/view/1723
  • ⎫ ENHANCE your interior space with an easy to care for plant that blooms for months. The “moth orchid”, phalaenopsis likes bright indirect light and temperatures in the 65-80 degrees range-perfect for summer indoors.
  • ⎫ FERTILIZE your vegetable garden as edible plants are hungry for nutrients. Without the help of fertilizer their appetites will exhaust the soil, producing a poor harvest. Read labels carefully as too much fertilizer can be worse than too little!
  • ⎫ REMOVE the silks from corn before cooking. Steam or grill with or without husks. Store corn in its husk in the refrigerator in open bags after picking to maintain freshness. Shuck immediately before using.
  • ⎫ CULTIVATE a continuous crop of colorful beans, one of the most economical sources of protein rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • ⎫ ASK a trusted neighbor or friend to water your container plantings and hanging baskets when you go on vacation. August is traditionally a very warm month and unless you have a drip system installed, pots need daily monitoring.
  • ⎫ GROOM your annuals and perennials by taking the time to deadhead the spent blooms or dead leaves, helping them to flower into fall.
  • ⎫ PRUNE summer flowering hedges and shrubs after they have finished blooming, removing any dead or damaged branches.
  • ⎫ CLEAR brush and vegetation to create a 100 foot defensible space around your home if you have not already done so. Fire season is with us until the rain pours. For any questions on abatement, call 925-258-4525 ext. 533.
  • ⎫ CONTINUE weeding. With warm weather, weed seeds germinate faster, zapping the moisture necessary to nurture other plants.
  • ⎫ WATER deeply, thoroughly, and infrequently in the early morning or early evening to prevent rapid evaporation and water wasting.
  • ⎫ CUT a bouquet of dahlias to enjoy inside. Spiky, long blooming dahlias come in all sizes, colors, and shapes guaranteed to dazzle. If you don’t grow dahlias, buy tubers for fall planting.
  • ⎫ CONSERVE water by pouring gray water from kitchens and showers in your outdoor yard. Every drop helps.
  • ⎫ SAVE seeds of fennel, arugula, onions, leeks, tomatoes, beans, marigolds, calendula, zinnia, sunflower, and cosmos to share with friends for next spring.
  • ⎫ HARVEST pears, blackberries, blueberries, apples, and elderberries. August is the perfect month to can jams, jellies, pickles, whole fruits, and vegetables.
  • ⎫ LIGHT the night with inexpensive solar lights available at garden centers to save on electricity.
  • ⎫ ENJOY the crayon colors of summer with the effervescent bougainvillea, the perky naked ladies, the sunburst firecracker plants, and the calming agapanthus.
  • ⎫ REFRAIN from worrying about a brown lawn. Grasses go dormant in hot weather when not watered regularly, but they are not dead. Raise the blades of the mower higher to protect the roots and wait for winter greening. (Unless of course you prefer painted grass!)

Feed your eyes, ears, nose, and soul with a stroll in nature. The garden is a warehouse of nourishment beyond food. LOVE summer!  Happy gardening and happy growing!

Cyn in the tropical sun

Cynthia Brian is the producer and host of  LIVE program, StarStyle®-Be the Star you Are!® broadcasting on Voice America/World Talk Radio. Tune in Wednesdays 4-5pm PT/7-8pm ET. Read more at The Lamorinda Weekly. 

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for June

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for June

“Nature. Cheaper than therapy.” ~ Source unknown

Cyn green

Why is it when we surrender our “busyness” to get outside in nature, we feel better?  Researchers have found that going into the garden, hiking, biking, or strolling in the countryside, bird watching, or animal petting triggers the release of endorphins and oxytocin that activate the pleasure center in our brain. When you spend time in the outdoors you experience a deep feeling of wellbeing and relaxation. Close contact with nature improves health while increasing self-esteem and confidence. Mother Nature is the ultimate teacher providing a foundation for life-long learning that nourishes the senses. Indulging in “green activities” reconnects us to ourselves,  one another, our kids, and the natural world. Nature soothes, restores, and heals.  Our stressed, depressed, or anxiety-ridden moods are elevated to refreshed, peaceful, and balanced. The next time you are feeling blue, go green and talk to a plant.  We can all use a little Vitamin N (as in Nature)!

Candycane amaryllis Hippeastrum

  • ⎫ EMPTY all standing water from containers to stop mosquitoes from invading in this dry year. If the bloodsuckers are biting, check out the Thermacell products, including a portable protector. A copy of the natural insecticide found in chrysanthemums is vaporized to create a 15×15 ft zone of protection. www.thermacell.com 

  • ⎫ BOOST your immune system and stave off diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancers by growing and eating leafy greens, broccoli, apples, beans, onions, garlic, leeks, and tomatoes.

  • ⎫ PULL ivy from trees as ivy strangles and kills. Ivy also is a haven for rats and mice.

  • ⎫ ELEVATE your palate by including home grown fennel, also known as sweet anise, into your recipes. The aromatic feathery fronds are pretty in the garden while the thick bulbs are delicious! If flower stalks begin to form, pinch them off to direct the plant’s energy to the bulb.

  • ⎫ SAVE our pollinators by creating habitats that support and nourish them.  

  • ⎫ MAKE noise before putting your hand into a hidden space such as your irrigation controls as snakes are slithering about in this dry, warm weather, including rattlers.

  • ⎫ DON’T overlook the common petunia for lasting beauty and deer resistant lantana. Both are available in luscious pink, purple, orange, red, and white. Butterflies will swarm to the bright yellow and gold lantana.

  • ⎫ PRUNE butterfly bush after the blossoms fade to encourage another round of blooms for fall.

  • ⎫ STIR fried, sautéed, or just toss in a fresh salad, the green tops of radishes, carrots, turnips, and beets are pleasantly earthy, peppery, and most of all nutritious!

  • ⎫ PINCH spent petunia petals to enable repeat blooming through fall.

  • ⎫ REFILL birdfeeders weekly to ensure that the flyers spend the summer with you.

  • ⎫ CREATE unique bouquets and arrangements for your graduation and Father’s Day festivities with natural elements from your personal flowerbeds.

  • ⎫ SWING on a hammock under a tree for a soothing dose of relaxing nature therapy.

  • ⎫ GIVE dad a green gift on Father’s Day that he’ll enjoy for years to come. Perhaps a blueberry bush for healthy antioxidant eating or a beautiful bougainvillea to enliven the backyard fence.   

  • ⎫ PRINT personalized coupons to help with the weeding, watering, and digging as another great gift idea for all gardening dads.  Mother Nature will thank you.

  • ⎫ PLANT cilantro, lettuces, and basil in containers for easy reach for your culinary treats.

  • ⎫ CHECK your irrigation timers to make sure they are working properly and set to early morning or evening, but not during the day. Twice a week watering is sufficient for most gardens and will help you conserve our H20.

  • ⎫ PROTECT your plants from hungry hunters as food gets scarce during the dry summer months by installing wire cages, netting, or repellents. No plant is 100% deer or rabbit proof.

  • ⎫ TREAT diseases with organic remedies. Neem oil and plant based cures are recommended.

  • ⎫ CELEBRATE summer by encouraging children to sow easy-to-grow sunflowers. Press the seeds into the soil, add water, and watch the wizardry that can surpass 16 feet!

  • ⎫ PULL onions for salads and grilling.

  • ⎫ TOLERATE minor aphid infestation to allow lady beetles (aka ladybugs) and “aphid lions” lacewing larvae to do their beneficial pest control. The good bugs only stick around when they have an infested buffet to feed on.

  • ⎫ USE the lily pad shaped petals of nasturtiums as serving dishes for appetizers as they are deliciously edible.

  • ⎫ THINK ahead to Halloween and Thanksgiving now by sowing your pumpkin seeds directly into the enriched, fertilized ground before mid June.

  • ⎫ DRIVE carefully through neighborhoods as school is out for the summer and kids are enjoying the outdoors.

snake

Congratulations to our Lamorinda graduates of all ages and the beautiful June brides and grooms. Wishing the men a joyful Daddy’s Day too! Enjoy a warm, fun filled June!

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing and read more at The Lamorinda Weekly. 

Cynthia Brian is the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® charity, producer/host of the radio program StarStyle® Be the Star You Are!®, producer of Express Yourself!™, and editor/teen coach of Teen Scene.

©2014

Cynthia Brian

The Goddess Gardener

StarStyle® Productions, LLC

Cynthia@goddessgardener.com

http://www.goddessgardener.com Cynthia is available as a speaker and consultant. 

 

Digging Deep with Cynthia Brian By Cynthia Brian

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Digging Deep with Cynthia Brian By Cynthia Brian

Garden

I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Has Gone

“Do I dare disturb the universe?” The Love Ballad of Alfred J. Prufroc

Scientists have speculated the possible return of El Nino in 2015. Even if the storms do return, the forecast predicts only moderate precipitation for Northern California. Fortunately enough rainfall in April greened the golden hills, yet as we approach summer, we must be extra diligent in our conservation methods. The fire danger is enhanced because of our dry winter. In fact, the fire season of 2013 was still in progress as we entered the beginning of the 2014 fire season this month. As humans we have altered the climate and stressed our great globe. It’s not too late to begin being better stewards. In my past two Digging Deeps, I’ve outlined how we can prepare our garden for the forthcoming drought. This is the third installment of the Drought Gardening Series with a list of plants that can thrive with little water.

 Garden1

If you missed Part 1 and 2, you can find them on-line at Lamorinda Weekly at these links:

Part 1: Singing in the Rain- https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue0801/Digging-Deep-Gardening-with-Cynthia-Brian-Singing-in-the-Rain.html

Part 2: don’t Doubt the Drought-https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue0803/Digging-Deep-Gardening-with-Cynthia-Brian-Dont-Doubt-the-Drought.html

 

Part 3-Drought Gardening Series

Drought Tolerant Plants from Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian

Enriched, compost amended soil is the most important foundation element to growing any garden. Apply three inches of mulch to maximize water savings, maintain moisture, reduce run-off, and shield the soil from direct sunlight. Group plants with similar water needs together, stop fertilizing, eliminate weeds, deadhead before seed pods form, build wind barriers, create shade, and water appropriately, infrequently, yet deeply. Choose a sampling of these drought resistant, low maintenance specimens.

Garden2

Annuals                                                         Shrubs                                                           Vegetables

Amaranthus                                                    Abelia                                                              Armenian Cucumber

Cosmos                                                           Holly                                                               Artichoke

Cleome                                                            Hibiscus                                                          Bean

Dusty Miller                                                   Hydrangea                                                       Beet

Lupine                                                             Palm                                                                Corn

Marigolds                                                        Nandina                                                           Chile

Poppy                                                             Oleander                                                          Eggplant

Portulaca                                                         Pomegranate                                                    Garlic 

Verbena                                                           Viburnum                                                        Lettuce                                                                                                                                                                                    Mustard

Perennials                                                     Herbs                                                              Onion

Agastache                                                        Anise                                                               Pea

Bush Sage                                                        Bay                                                                 Peppers

Blanket flower                                                 Catmint                                                           Radish

Cactus                                                             Catnip                                                             Rhubarb

Currant                                                            Chives                                                             Spinach

Daylily                                                             Dill                                                                  Squash

Echinacea                                                        Fennel                                                             Swiss Chard

Fern                                                                 Feverfew                                                         Tomato

Geranium                                                        Lemongrass                                                     Turnip

Ginger                                                             Marjoram                                                        Zucchini

Helleborus                                                       Oregano

Ice Plant                                                          Parsley                                                                  Grasses

Lamb’s Ear                                          `           Purslane                                                          Blue Oatgrass

Lamium                                                           Rosemary                                                        Fountain Grass

Lavender                                                         Sage                                                                 Japanese Bloodgrass

Russian Sage                                                   Spearmint                                                        Leatherleaf Sedge

Sedum                                                             Savory                                                             Maiden Grass

Succulents                                                       Stinging Nettle                                                Pampas Grass

Yarrow                                                            Thyme                                                               Reed Grass

Yucca                                                              Wild Garlic                                                      Zebra Grass

 

This is not a complete list of plants that will grow with minimal moisture and maintenance. Talk to your nursery professional for more advice and local recommendations. Visit garden centers to see the specimens that will work best with your landscaping requirements. Remember that all plants need water. Natives, succulents, and cacti fare the best in dry conditions and may add beauty and texture to your existing garden with less care. Bulbs are always excellent choices providing perennial color, form, and fragrance. Consider xeriscaping as it conserves 50-75% of water utilizing creative landscaping techniques.

Until next time, remember that to build a better future we must nurture nature. We are blessed to live on planet Earth. Care for the land and all of God’s creatures and will reap the benefits. Never forget that love always wins when kindness prevails, plus gardens make us happy. Read a book in May-it’s a garden in bloom. Stroll through the garden to actually smell the roses! They are glorious this year.

Happy Gardening! Happy Growing!

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Reminders

ü  PLANT flowers in drifts of several colors to enable bees and butterflies to see them better.

ü  CREATE a wide defensible space perimeter around your home to protect your family from fires.

ü  CONTINUE succession planting of beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, and other root edibles for uninterrupted harvests all season.

ü  COLD hardy peonies are popping up creating waves of color in the garden. Peonies make sophisticated floral arrangements.

ü  PULL weeds that are zapping your water, especially teasel rosette. This roadside weed is a biennial and quite prickly to touch. Nonetheless, many people use the dried flower heads in arrangements because of their interesting shape and size (they can grow up to 2m tall!). This widely adapted plant is native to Eurasia.

ü  EAT the pea like flowers of the fava bean plant as well as the leaves. Fava leaves are nutty tasting while the flowers have a mildly sweet flavor akin to spring peas.

 

©2014

Cynthia Brian

The Goddess Gardener

Starstyle® Productions, llc

Cynthia@GoddessgGrdener.com

http://www.GoddessGardener.com

925-377-7827

Cynthia is available as a speaker and consultant. Listen to her radio show on the Voice America Empowerment Network Wednesdays 4-5pm PT LIVE or visit http://www.StarStyleRadio.com

Read at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue0806/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-I-Can-See-Clearly-Now-the-Rain-Has-Gone.html

 

Ask Cynthia Brian about an Avocado Pit On Reader’s Request

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Ask Cynthia Brian about an Avocado Pit On Reader’s Request

PitDear Ms. Cynthia:

You helped me root an avocado pit in water by using four toothpicks.  Now that it has leaves, what do I do?

Brian, Moraga

Dear Mr. Brian

Wow! From your photo that avocado pit is a happy camper. I’m glad you wrote again because this is a great project for kids to have gardening success. (Editor’s note, Brian had emailed long before ASK CYNTHIA BRIAN became a column and Cynthia gave him advice on how to root an avocado seed in water.)  Now that the seed has sprouted a stem and leaves and has a thick root system, it’s ready to plant. Grab a pot about 10-12 inches in diameter, fill with rich humus. Plant the pit so that half of it is above ground, just like when you used the four toothpicks to anchor the seed halfway in the water. Add redwood bark or mulch to the base to maintain their optimum PH of 6 to 6.5. Water frequently and keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Put in a sunny place, the sunnier the better. When it’s about 12 inches tall, cut it back to six inches to encourage bushiness. If you have the space, you can transplant to the garden. Keep in mind avocado trees grow to 20-40 feet but you can keep them smaller in containers. It may take several years to bear fruit, if it bears at all. I once grew a thirty-foot avocado tree at a former house and had to beat the bark to get it to produce avocadoes. The crop was so colossal that neighbors nicknamed me Guacamole Mama. With the high price of avocadoes today, I’d sure like to have that that exotic fruit tree now. Have fun-this is a delicious and rewarding experiment and one to share with other young gardeners as it is easy and low-maintenance.

Cynthia  

Postscript: This request from Brian came to me a while ago. Recently he invited me to visit his “guacomole” tree, now living in a half wine barrel and has grown to several feet! (see photo). I definitely recommend trying this with children as a very fun project!

Cynthia Brian-wild flowers

©2014 Cynthia Brian

The Goddess Gardener

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.

Cynthia will answer one or more questions every other issue as space allows. Email your comments or questions to Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com 

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