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Autumn Aromas

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
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Empowerment
Autumn Aromas

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By Cynthia Brian

“Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day!

Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
Fluttering from the autumn tree…”
~Emily Brontë

 

When it rained this past week, did you smell it? The scent of earth mixed with fallen leaves and decomposing plant matter signals the transition of the seasons. On the calendar, autumn began on September 22, 2022, but it wasn’t until November that I inhaled this intoxicating aroma that brought back childhood memories of the end of harvest, jumping in piles of leaves, and blazing bonfires. 

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In just a week, it seemed that so many trees changed their wardrobe from vibrant green to sunset colors of amber, gold, red, bronze, and yellow. The “foliage show” is late here in California, yet it is glorious. As the leaves turn, they also drop, blanketing our landscapes with a marvelous source of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and nutrients that the soil craves.

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As much as you want to tidy your garden, refrain from raking the leaves into your green bin. Leave a layer of leaves on the ground to encourage the photosynthesis process in the natural circle of life. If leaves are too big, mow or cut them and add them to a compost pile with food scraps, lawn clippings, eggshells, coffee grounds, and other biodegradables. After a few months, you’ll have a rich mulch filled with worms and beneficial microbes to add back into your garden at no cost to you. When you add organic materials to your soil, you are providing food for the organisms that improve soil aeration and drainage while reducing soil compaction. The nutrients will release over time

As we inhale the delicious flavors of fall and experience the cooler temperatures, it is also time to perform tasks in preparation for winter.

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AUTUMN CHORES

ü  CLEAN patio furniture before storing or covering it for the season. It is especially critical to remove bird droppings left on your umbrellas, hammocks, or other furniture.

ü  TURN OFF sprinkler systems.

ü  CHECK for any irrigation leaks.

ü  LEAVE leaves where they fall, spread them around your garden, or add them to a compost pile. 

ü  FERTILIZE grass, especially when it is going to rain.

ü  REMOVE debris, sticks, and weeds from garden beds.

ü  PLANT cover crops to fix nitrogen. Fava beans, mustard, and clovers are excellent choices.

ü  PICK pumpkins, apples, guavas, squash, and any fruits or vegetables left hanging before frost and rain.

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ü  DIVIDE overgrown clumps of perennials such as daylilies, agapanthus, iris, or naked ladies. Move them to other locations or share them with fellow gardeners.

ü  COVER any exposed soil with straw, grass clippings, aged wood chips, pine needles, or even shredded newspaper to reduce weed growth, moderate soil temperatures, retain moisture, and reduce erosion over winter.

ü  BUY six packs of perennials including columbine, carnations, penstemon, and coral bells.

ü  BRIGHTEN your fall garden with pops of color from pansies, cyclamen, violas, Mums, stock, Iceland poppies, and primroses.

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ü  FIND favorite fall color trees to add to your landscape where selections are vast at your local nursery.

ü  SCATTER California wildflower seeds including poppies and lupines and sow seeds of sweet Alyssum, bachelor buttons, forget-me-nots, and milkweed.

ü  DEADHEAD roses for continued blooms during the holidays.

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ü  PRUNE dead branches from trees and shrubs. 

ü  BEWARE hungry coyotes have been on a rampage killing poultry, cats, and small dogs. Keep your animals and small children safe.

ü  ENJOY the many colors of lantana blooming throughout fall in purple, orange, red, white, and yellow.

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ü  GET READY to plant bulbs towards the end of the month for a spring show.

 

IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN

During a cold winter, there is nothing better than knowing that you have organic, tasty, greens and vegetables growing right outside your door. Fall is the best time to get these nutritious edibles going for a bountiful harvest in the new year. Most of these plants prefer extra nitrogen. Side-dress them with a balanced fertilizer as they grow.

Plant seeds or seedlings of:

Varieties of lettuce

Asian greens

Spinach

Arugula

Swiss Chard

Chicory

Kale

Cress

Beets

Cabbage

Radish

Broccoli

Broccoli rabe

Carrots

Cauliflower

Kohlrabi

Peas

Turnips

Make sure to plant shallots and garlic now to harvest next summer.

 

NOT TO BE MISSED

Saturday, November 12th from 3-5 PM, I’ll be in-person reading, telling stories, and signing books from my new children’s book, No Barnyard Bullies, at Point Richmond Art Gallery, 145 West Richmond Avenue, Point Richmond, California, 9480. Families with children are welcome. If you have purchased an NFT from www.StarStyleCommunity.com, you’ll be given a gift.No barnyard bullies book signing.jpeg

Monday, November 21st at 2 PM, I’ll be hosting a “Thanksgiving is Every Day” celebration via Zoom for members of the StarStyle® Community. Buy a StarStyle® NFT today that benefits Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 charity and participate in numerous exclusive experiences designed for members only. www.StarStyleCommunity.com

 

Although I don’t like the darkness that descends so much earlier when I still have so many chores to complete, I am reveling in the cooler days that allow for laboring longer with less strain. Digging in the dirt in fall bequeaths the most luscious autumn aromas…musty, musky, intoxicatingly earthy. I wish I could bottle it!

Thank you to so many readers who sent me notes of healing. You touched my heart and my spirit, and I am very appreciative. I am following my own advice. Each day anew…and a wee bit slower!

Go outside and breathe in the fragrance of fall and know that, as gardeners, we will be resting soon, along with Mother Nature.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing!

 Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1619/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-The-musty-sweet-smell-its-fall.html

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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 StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com. Her newest children’s picture book, No Barnyard Bullies, from the series, Stella Bella’s Barnyard Adventures is available now at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store  For an invitation to hang out with Cynthia for fun virtual events, activities, conversations, and exclusive experiences, buy StarStyle® NFTs at https://StarStyleCommunity.com

Cynthia Brian'Growing with the Goddess Gardener book copy.jpg

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

https://www.GoddessGardener.com

Garden Safety

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
Garden Safety

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Preventing Gardening Injuries

By Cynthia Brian 

 

“Do what you can for as long as you can, and when you can’t, do the next best thing!” Chuck Yeager

 

One of the many lessons I’ve learned from my forty-plus years in the entertainment industry is that the show must go on! Except for the Covid 19 pandemic, actors go to work despite any personal circumstances. I’ve put on my acting mask when I’ve had walking pneumonia, broken bones, and deaths in the family. I even left my hospital bed to shoot a commercial two days after giving birth. My new baby girl went to work with me!

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As a hands-on gardener, I have always pushed through the pain to get everything done on time.

Whether it was digging trenches, installing French drains, cutting dead limbs, building stairways, hauling gravel, pulling weeds, pushing a lawnmower, or planting twenty flats of ice plant, I did it with joy and with ease.

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Everyone knows that gardening is terrific exercise. The muscles of our backs, shoulders, legs, arms, thighs, and wrists get an intense workout.  Because of all the bending, lifting, and twisting (BLT), lower back and neck pain are common after a strenuous gardening chore. When I start aching, my remedy is to soak in a hot bath with Epsom salts. That usually works.

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Not this time.

 

Somehow this week I exceeded the limits of my body and ended up writhing on the floor with painful spasms beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. The spinal surgeon admonished me, “No BLT!” but as a gardener how can we eliminate bending, lifting, and twisting?

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I’m using voice dictation to write this column because I’m bedridden, and like in show business, publishing must go on. The photos included are not of injuries but joyful fall favorites. Because I don’t want you to experience a similar painful situation to mine, I’m including tips on how to avoid injuries in the garden. As soon as I heal, I will be following my own advice!

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Ways to Avoid Injuries in the Garden

 

1.     Wear appropriate clothing including sturdy boots, gloves, and a hat. My favorite piece of gardening clothing is an apron with pockets where I keep a few hand tools handy. Also use a support back belt.

2.     Apply sunscreen and wear sunglasses during the daylight.

3.     Prevent tick bites by treating your clothes with permethrin. I have had excellent success with buying clothing and sprays from www.InsectShield.com.

4.     Wear protective eye gear when operating any mechanical tool such as a chainsaw, weed eater, lawn mower, blower, or other machines.

5.     Before jumping into a big task, warm your body up with a brisk walk, jumping jacks, stretching, dancing, or gentle movements. When you have completed your gardening tasks for the day, perform simple stretches for five minutes. 

6.     Carry a bottle of water with you. Rehydrate often. It’s very easy to get dehydrated while gardening, especially on a hot day. Dehydration puts extra pressure on the cardiovascular system and can be fatal.

7.     Use the correct tools for each task to prevent injuries.

8.     Protect your knees with a cushion or knee pads. An old pillow that is washable works well for me. Move the pillow close to where you will be working so as not to stretch your torso.

9.     Minimize repetitive movements that put stress on one area of your body. Take a short break every 15 minutes. Stand, stretch, sit, relax, drink water, and breathe.

10.  Avoid BLT as much as possible.

a.     Bending: Instead of bending over to weed, sit on a stool or a bucket. Keep your back straight while you lean forward to pull weeds. Don’t twist to the side. Always move as close to an area that you want to clean as possible.

b.     Lifting: Protect your back by using your legs and hips. Stand close to the object you are lifting and spread your legs widely for added support. Keep your back straight. Bend with your knees, not your waist, and tense your stomach muscles as you lift. Use your core strength. Don’t bend forward as you lift. Use your knees and hips to do the lifting.

c.     Twisting: When sweeping, digging, raking, shoveling, and other chores that require using a long-handled object, minimize the strain to your back by keeping your posture aligned with the object. Don’t turn to the side or twist in any direction as that increases the strain on your back, shoulders, and neck. Pivot your feet when necessary and keep your body parts moving in the same direction.

11.  Listen to your body. Our bodies are wondrous miracles that usually warn us when we are overusing a muscle or doing too much. It’s natural to be a bit sore after a day of intense gardening. Know your limits and don’t go past them.  If painful symptoms persist or get worse, consult your physician.

12.  Remember tomorrow is another day. You don’t have to do everything on your “to-do” list in one interval. Gardening is a marathon that we can never outrun. Gardening requires patience. Spread tasks out over several days. 

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Gardening is therapeutic but can also be dangerous when precautionary measures are not followed. Be extra careful when using a ladder. Hire a professional to assist with tasks that you can no longer perform. Ask for help when needed. Make sure to get a tetanus shot as tetanus can be found in the soil. 

 

One of my favorite stories in my book, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul chronicled a couple in their 70s who loved to garden but because of weakened muscular systems embraced Chuck Yeager’s quote. One morning when the wife spotted her husband lying flat on his stomach under an apple tree, she scurried to help. On closer inspection, she saw he had a trowel in his hand. Exasperated, she yelled, “What are you doing?” The husband replied, “The next best thing!”

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In my mind, I’m still in my 30s, but, alas, my body has aged. I, too, find myself doing the next best thing. This injury that I’ve suffered has taught me to diligently heed my own advice. There is a silver lining to my agony: Because the show must go on, I wrote this article to help you avoid my mistakes. 

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This is the next best thing!

 

Stay healthy, follow the safety protocols, ask for help, and observe Chuck Yeager’s advice: “Do what you can for as long as you can, and when you can’t, do the next best thing!”

 

Have a safe and happy Halloween. Make sure to VOTE to ensure democracy prevails. 

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Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1618/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Preventing-gardening-injuries.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. Her newest children’s picture book, No Barnyard Bullies, is available now.

 

Buy copies of her books at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-storeFRONT COVER-NoBarnyardBullies 1080.jpeg

. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings. For an invitation to hang out with Cynthia for fun virtual events, activities, conversations, and exclusive experiences buy a StarStyle® NFT at https://StarStyleCommunity.com

 

postcard-mean cookie NFT alone.jpeg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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Transplanting and Zoo Fun!

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
Transplanting and Zoo Fun!
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It’s All Happening at the Zoo

By Cynthia Brian

“It’s a light and tumble journey

From the East Side to the park;
Just a fine and fancy ramble to the zoo!” Simon & Garfunkel

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When the squirrels start collecting piles of acorns, and pumpkins, gourds, and squash adorn front porches, we know that autumn has arrived. With the cooler weather, we welcome fresh air and respite from the heat waves. 

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Besides gardening, I have always adored animals (thus, my new children’s book series Stella Bella’s Barnyard Adventures with the first book, No Barnyard Bullies). When I have an opportunity to meld those two passions together, my heart is grateful and invigorated.

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With my children and their families, I’ve been fortunate to spend time at both the Oakland and San Diego Zoos. 

 

Monkeys, giraffes, elephants, lions, alligators, wolves, bears, zebras, birds, and more exotic creatures from around the globe mingle in the lush landscapes. Ponds, streams, waterfalls, and lily pads add to the natural ambiance. Interestingly, and most likely on purpose, many of the species planted throughout both zoos borrow names from the animal kingdom: birds of paradise, lion’s ear, foxtails, leopard’s bane, zebra plant, snake plant, bear’s breeches, turtlehead, elephant ears, wolfsbane, goose grass, staghorn ferns, and many more. Walking through the tropical rainforest surrounded by tall, thick bamboo, delicate ferns, bromeliads, and orchids while listening to the calls of the wild transports me to my travel memories of tangled jungles and saturated rainforests in Africa and South America.

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Walking the many paths of both zoos is a great way to engage in healthy exercise while fully immersing yourself in the sounds and sights of global nature. Children are mesmerized by the beautiful beasts and enjoy many hands-on exploratory endeavors that contribute to their knowledge of the inhabitants of this earth. The atmosphere is happy and familial. It is all happening at the zoo.

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After a day of celebrating children, animals, and landscapes, it is time to regroup to consider what chores are looming in my paradise. I’m waiting for inclement wet weather to transplant the variegated shell ginger sent to me by the online plant nursery, NatureHills. Spring Meadow Nursery and Proven Winners want me to trial Bouvardia Estrellita and Tecoma Chicklet. Friends gave me a struggling rose in a container which I’ve resuscitated to glory with measured coffee grounds as well as avocado and banana trees. All will be moved to their forever homes as soon as the thermometer allows.

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If you have shrubs, trees, bushes, or other plants in need of transplanting, my suggestion is to be patient and wait until heat waves have passed and rain is on the horizon. After three years of record-breaking drought, California is bracing for a fourth year without adequate snow or rain. If we transplant too early in the fall, our plants may not survive.

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When the time is right for transplanting, here’s what you need to do:

1.     Gather the materials needed: gloves, shovel, wheelbarrow, tarp, enriched soil, mulch, and your plants.

2.     Pre-dig a hole before you take the plant out of the pot or move a plant from another location.  The hole needs to be at least 1.5 times the size of the root ball.

3.     If the shrub is large, cut it back by 1/3 before transplanting to save energy for growing.

4.     Whether digging up a plant or removing it from a container, keep as much soil around the roots as possible.

5.     If moving an existing bush, place it in a tarp or wheelbarrow to keep the root ball intact.

6.     In the new location, double-check that the hole is the correct size. If it is too small, dig it deeper. If it is too large, refill it with soil.

7.     Add a small amount of the new soil to the hole. Position the plant upright and straight and fill the hole with good soil, tapping down as you go to eliminate air pockets.

8.     When the new soil is level with the ground, add two or three inches of mulch.

9.     Water slowly and thoroughly. 

10.  Keep an eye on your new transplant to make sure the soil never dries out yet is not too wet or soggy.

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Now, back to the zoo. When you have a free day, consider a fine and fancy ramble to the zoo. The zoo offers a day of respite from the noise, congestion, and distractions of the concrete jungle. Visit an oasis of serenity and marvel at nature’s magnificence. 

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Mark Your Calendars:

Thursday,  October, 20th, Cynthia Brian presents Water Works to the Moraga Garden Club. https://www.moragagardenclub.com

Wednesday, October 26th, Starstyle® Community, the first NFT drop of one-of-a-kind art derived from characters in Cynthia Brian’s picture book, No Barnyard Bullies. Buy beautiful, collectible NFTs today. https://www.StarStyleCommunity.com

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Read about StarStyle® NFTS:https://blog.voiceamerica.com/2022/10/11/metaverse-meets-be-the-star-you-are-charity/

Photos and More: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1617/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Its-all-happening-at-the-zoo.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. Her newest children’s picture book, No Barnyard Bullies, from the series, Stella Bella’s Barnyard Adventures is available now at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store  For an invitation to hang out with Cynthia for fun virtual events, activities, conversations, and exclusive experiences, buy StarStyle® NFTs at https://StarStyleCommunity.com 

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

https://www.GoddessGardener.com

 

 

Fall Harvest!

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
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Empowerment
Fall Harvest!

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By Cynthia Brian

 

“Delicious Autumn! My soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird, I would fly about the earth seeking the successive Autumns.” George Eliot

 

The sweet smell of the recent rain-dampened soil stimulated my soul. Although it wasn’t enough moisture to revive a parched earth, my brown lawn exhibits more strands of green. This short respite from the horrendous heat of the first part of September was a welcome beacon of the cooler forthcoming autumn. 

 

This surprise rainfall was also an indication that it is time to complete harvesting our summer crops before the rainy season begins. Nature has a way of informing us about the optimum time to pluck our favorite vegetable or fruit at its peak of flavor. Berries are plump, juicy, and deep in color. Apples fall into our hands the second they are touched.  Our noses lead us to the sweet smell of ripe Asian pears, our eyes shine when we see that perfect deep red tomato, and our ears listen for the hollow thump of a crunchy melon. We use our senses to identify the best time to harvest, including our common sense. 

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In my garden, because of the heatwave we experienced, many of my fruits are self-harvesting including apples, pears, and citrus. (Self-harvesting means that when the fruit is ripe, it automatically falls from the tree.) The challenge with self-harvesting is that the fruit bruises or gets dirt, rocks, or sticks stuck in its flesh. Cut out the blemishes, wash, and eat the rest!

 

To move forward with fall harvesting, pick your produce early in the morning, just as the sun is rising. The air is cooler, and the crops are crisp, allowing them to last longer. If you wait to pick until the heat of the day, lettuces, radishes, peas, chards, and leafy greens will be limp and wilted. The second-best time to harvest your non-droopy crops like zucchini, grapes, tomatoes, and root vegetables is early evening, preferably after the sun has set. The early sunbathing adds to their sugariness. 

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Harvesting Hints to help you pick, pull, and pluck a sampling of your garden favorites at the peak of perfection.

 

Apples: When you touch a ripe apple, regardless of variety, it should need only a slight pull to fall off the branch.

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Beans: Pick before the pods begin to swell and when the strings are still slender. Pick often to encourage more bean development.

Beets: Pull when beets are 1 ½ inch to 2 inches in diameter. Cut off the tops to use in cooking or chop them into salads. 

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Carrots: Whether you are growing orange, purple, yellow, or white carrots, loosen the soil when they are ½-1 inch thick, then pull. 

Cucumbers: Harvest cucumbers when they are shiny and small. The bigger they get, the more bitter and seedy they become. Lemon cucumbers will be slightly yellow while English and Armenian cucumbers will be green. Frequent picking encourages more growth.

Pepino Dulce Melons: When you see the pink stripe and the fruit is about 2 inches in diameter, these sweet cucumber/melons are ready to eat.

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Eggplants:  Young eggplants are the tastiest and sweetest. Their flesh is glossy purple. Do not pull eggplants. Cut with a sharp knife.

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Fennel: Cut bulbing fennel at the soil line. Use the bulb as well as the ferny leaves in recipes. If your fennel has yellow flowers, save the seeds for your culinary recipes.

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Grapes: If you are growing grapes, you know when they are ready to be harvested by doing a taste test. Don’t pull the bunch from the vine. Use a sharp knife to cut individual bunches. 

Kale: Leave six to eight leaves of the kale on the stem when picking kale. Kale grows quickly and will continue to send out more leaves.

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Peppers: For the ultimate in flavor and sweetness, allow peppers to grow to their deepest colors of green, red, yellow, orange, and purple. Twist and pick whatever size you wish.

Pumpkins: Try to pierce the skin of a pumpkin with your fingernail to determine ripeness. Cut the stem at least 3 inches long and let the pumpkin cure for a week or more in the sun. Pumpkins will last a very long time when stored at 48-50 degrees in a dry environment.

Tomatoes: For the richest flavor, be patient and wait for your tomato to reach its full sun-ripened color for the specific variety. When rain threatens, pick your green tomatoes, and leave them on the counter. Most will ripen at room temperature. Whatever you do, never refrigerate tomatoes after picking or you’ll lose nutrients and flavor.

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Leafy greens: Nutritious leafy greens like arugula, lettuce, Swiss chard, and spinach continue to sprout. Harvest as needed to augment and accent your other edibles. The smaller the greens, the more concentrated the vitamins and minerals.

 

Keep in mind that the birds, squirrels, skunks, raccoons, deer, rabbits, and other critters are as excited about the fall harvest as you are.  They may start their feeding frenzy before your yields are at their optimum ripeness. Be vigilant and if necessary, gather your bounty earlier than expected.

 

The end of crop harvesting heralds the beginning of autumn as a time for rejoicing. When I was a kid growing up on our farm, a barn dance signaled the finality of the harvest and time to rest from a season of working in the fields. In our communities, we celebrate with festivals and fairs that are filled with family fun. Fall is a delightfully delicious time of year with the abundance of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables ripe and ready. Pick, eat, enjoy!

 

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

 

Photos and more: 

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1616/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Fall-forward.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. Her newest children’s picture book series, Stella Bella’s Barnyard Adventures, will be available soon. Buy copies of her books, www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music CD and special savings. For an invitation to hang out with Cynthia for fun virtual events, activities, conversations, and special perks, buy a StarStyle® NFT at https://StarStyleCommunity.com 

2022_FINAL-StellaBella_NoBarnyardBullies_CoverWrap.jpeg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Hot, Hot, Hot!

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
0
Empowerment
Hot, Hot, Hot!

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By Cynthia Brian 

 

“What dreadful hot weather we have. It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance.” Jane Austen

 

In July 1808 when Jane Austen was thirty-three, the Central England Temperature series which dates back to 1659, recorded the 2nd hottest month on record with temperatures around the country reaching between 97-105 degrees. Following this oppressive heat wave, a thunderstorm so violent that hail stones were up to a foot long, destroyed structures, and killed people and livestock.

 

I normally adore hot weather. In the past, I was one of those people that liked it hot! Then Labor Day weekend 2022 happened! Wow! Throughout the many years that I’ve lived in Lamorinda, I don’t recall a time when temperatures reached 109. Friends in Southern California reported temperatures of 119 degrees. This excessive heat strained the power grids as people attempted to keep cool.

Throughout the United States and the world, horrific environmental tragedies are occurring including floods, fires, droughts, famines, heat waves, disappearing glaciers, and so much more with global warming and climate change accelerating. Scientists at U.C.L.A. and elsewhere are predicting a mega-storm in California in the next few decades that will be unlike anything anyone has ever experienced. They are calling it “the other BIG ONE” as it will be as destructive, deadly, and costly as any earthquake dumping over 100 inches of precipitation in non-stop atmospheric rivers throughout the state.

Yet today, suffering from extended heat and water scarcity, viewing our parched gardens, it’s hard to imagine a winter super storm. As a lover of nature and Goddess Gardener, I am acutely aware of the crisis we face. It is prudent to prepare.

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I am watering twice a week, less than the district water mandate of thrice per week. As I do my best to never waste a drop of H2O, buckets are maintained in showers and sinks, sprinklers have been checked, leaking valves repaired, my garden has been mulched, trigger nozzles are attached to every hose, and the driveway and patio are swept. Despite these earnest efforts, the month has been challenging to keep landscaping alive.

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You are not alone if your lawn is brown and crunchy. Mine is as well. I suggest applying enough water to keep the roots alive. When the rains come this winter (and let’s pray we get them without the torrential atmospheric rivers that we experienced last season), and with a bit of fertilizer later in the fall, your lawn will bounce back. It is ugly now, so patience is required. If you are tired of battling growing a beautiful green lawn in a drought, make sure to contact the water district as there are rebates for replacing turf with sustainable, drought-resistant landscaping.

Proven Winners has just asked me to trial two of their newest developments, 

Estrellita Little Star™ Bouvardia and

Chicklet™ Orange Trumpet Bush. I am always thrilled to test any new cultivar but because of the heat, I’ve asked them to not send the plant samples for a couple of weeks until the weather, hopefully, is cooler. If you are waiting to transplant, my suggestion is to postpone putting anything in the ground until the days are nippier, nights are warm, and rain is on the horizon. I currently have four big containers consisting of two avocado trees, a banana tree, and a red rose that need to be moved to their forever spot, yet I dare not attempt to replant them now. Last spring, I transplanted three avocado trees which perished during the summer heat even though I was attentive. Trees take three to five years to acclimate to their new environs. Timing the transition is tricky, yet imperative.

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My “hot” news is that my first children’s picture book, No Barnyard Bullies, based on true stories from growing up on a farm and adopting and rehoming animals, is published. I will be selling and autographing the first edition at the Pear and Wine Festival at Moraga Commons Park in the Be the Star You Are!® booth on Saturday, September 24 from 11-3 pm. Proceeds will benefit the arts, culture, and literacy charity empowering women, families, and youth. Our gratitude to Lamorinda Weekly and MB Jessee Painting for sponsoring the booth. Hope to see you there. For more information, visit Events at https://www.bethestaryouare.org.

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Read about No Barnyard Bullies:

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1615/New-childrens-book-addresses-complex-issues-of-kindness-and-inclusivity.html 

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In this late summer weather, we may feel inelegant and perhaps a bit dreadful. It’s hot, hot, hot. But it could be worse…like a flash flood or hail stones as big as a football-. Stay cool, hydrated, and shaded.

Cynthia Brian’s Mid-September Gardening Guide

ü  Autumn is less than two weeks away. It is time to buy the spring bulbs you wish to plant. Visit your local nursery or order from catalogs for your favorite blooms:

Van Engelen Dutch bulbs: www.vanengelen.com

John Scheepers beauty bulbs: www.johnscheepers.com

White Flower Farm: www.whiteflowerfarm.com

Spring Hill Nursery: www.springhillnursery.com

Breck’s Direct from Holland: www.brecks.com

ü  Save Energy from 4 pm-9 pm as extreme heat is straining California’s grid.

ü  Water containers daily if the soil is dry. Test by putting a pencil or stick a few inches into the pot. If the pencil comes out dry, it’s time to water. If moist, skip it.

ü  Climate emergencies are on the rise. Heed these warnings offered by Lamorinda emergency services:

o   Sign up for alerts on your smartphone with the Contra Costa County Community Warning System- https://alerts5.athoc.com/SelfService/CCCCWS/Register

o   Include the CWS emergency notification number (925-655-0195) in your favorite contacts so you will receive messages when your phone is set to “do not disturb”. For directions on how to do this visit- https://www.lamorindacert.org/resource/cell-phone-do-not-disturb/

o   Know Your Zone! Contra Costa County is divided into evacuation zones. Knowing your zone will allow you to quickly identify your neighborhood’s evacuation status and know when it’s safe to return home. Find your zone here- https://cwsalerts.com/know-your-zone/  Don’t forget to save the information where you can find it in an emergency.

o   Review the Lamorinda Resident’s Guide to Wildfire Preparedness and Evacuation.  https://lamorindacert.org/evacuate/documents/LRGWPE.pdf

ü  Contact the water district to inquire about a rebate if you decide to replace your lawn with drought-resistant landscaping.

ü  Deep-soak established trees, especially if signs of distress are evident. Deep-soaking prevents roots from rising to the soil surface.

ü  Irrigate deeply early in the morning or as late as possible in the evening when the temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation.

ü  Refrain from planting any new plants during a heatwave. Wait until mid-fall or whenever the days become cooler, yet the soil is still warm.

ü  Stay hydrated. Make sure your animals have plenty of water, too. 

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Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1615/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Some-like-it-hot.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. Her newest children’s picture book, No Barnyard Bullies, is available now.. Buy copies of her books, www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings. For an invitation to hang out with Cynthia for fun virtual events, activities, conversations, and special perks, buy a StarStyle® NFT at https://StarStyleCommunity.com 

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Garden of Eating

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
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Empowerment
Garden of Eating

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By Cynthia Brian

“The gathering of salads, radishes, and herbs made me feel like another about her baby–how could anything so beautiful be mine?” Alice B. Toklas

The final month of summer is the most delicious time of the season when summer crops, especially tomatoes and squash are at their tastiest. Throughout the year I look forward to this moment when I can pluck sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes right off the vine, pinch a basil leaf or two, and devour the combination while working in my potager.

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Since medieval days, the French have been combining flowers, herbs, and vegetables in kitchen gardens called potagers. Still popular today, according to government surveys, at least 25% of consumed vegetables in France are home-grown. With the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables at an all-time high, many Americans are following suit and smartly growing their own groceries. 

Growing up on our farm, our edible gardens were expansive. Everything we consumed we either grew or raised, except for dairy products. Whenever we visited friends or relatives, we always brought vegetable garden platter.jpega box of freshly harvested goodies. Our meals were colorful, flavorful, and nutritious, making me a life-long advocate of continuing the tradition of growing my own organic crops and sharing the bounty with others.

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Everyone benefits from enjoying a little patch of earth; however, most people don’t live on farms with acres of land. The good news is you don’t need a hectare to grow your own herbs and vegetables. With limited space, window boxes, balconies, doorsteps, and porches become your personal, edible Eden.

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If you are wondering what is a potager or kitchen garden, the best description is that it is a place where you grow your own garden of eating. In other words, what do you want to bring into the kitchen? Fruit, herbs, flowers, and vegetables are all welcome in a kitchen garden. Kids are instilled with better eating habits as well as a love of gardening by giving them a small plot or pot to grow foods they want to eat. Whether you are a green thumb or a non-gardener, growing edibles in a container on your patio or deck next to the grill make the ingredients easier to use in your meal planning. Most people don’t want to hike out to the back forty to harvest a handful of chives. Ornamental edibles are gorgeous and entertaining as herbs, flowers, and vegetables flow seamlessly together, attracting beneficial insects to keep the garden healthy and in balance.

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Although it is too late this year to plant a kitchen garden for summer harvesting, the forthcoming fall offers the opportunity to plant winter crops. And by salivating now over the luscious summer offerings of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, and more, you can plan next spring’s planting.

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What do you need to grow a mini garden of tasty delights?

Containers: Anything that can hold soil and water will work well. You can purchase decorative containers in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and textures or you can recycle unlikely items for more of a unique design statement. I grow herbs and plants in old cowboy boots, coffee mugs, shells, wine boxes, teapots, toys, and even hats.  Drainage is critical, especially for any vessel without a bottom hole.  Add an inch of gravel or packing pebbles to the bottom of any containers to improve the drainage. Water damages surfaces. Provide saucers to prevent runoff staining.

Soil: Synthetic “soils” are best suited for growing vegetables and herbs in pots. Purchase pre-made bags or make your own by mixing sawdust, wood chips, peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, fertilizer, compost, or other organic mediums. Mixtures must be free of disease and weed seeds, be able to hold moisture and nutrients, be lightweight, and drain well.  Before planting, water the new soil thoroughly.

Sun: Growing herbs or vegetables requires sunshine. Make sure to position your planters in a non-drafty area receiving five to six hours of sun daily. A south, southeast, southwest, or west location is ideal. Most containers are easily moved from place to place. If very large or extra heavy, utilize the assistance of a hand truck!

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Seeds: Whether you choose seeds or small plants, you’ll want to choose herbs or veggies that won’t grow too tall or too wide and don’t have a deep rooting system. My favorites are parsley, mint, basil, chives, sage, thyme, dill, strawberries, and lavender. I have had success in growing tomatoes, eggplant, lettuce, cabbage, and peppers in containers on my patio. If you have vertical space on a balcony or porch, pole beans are fun while cucumbers and squash can be trained to trail. For great barbecue flavors, keep a wagon of herbs, specifically rosemary, within rolling distance.

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Water: Herbs and vegetables drown when water-logged. Water sparingly. Once a week during cooler seasons or in hot weather, once a day is sufficient. Poor drainage kills plants while wet leaves encourage disease. Be diligent. Feed once a month with a fertilizer designed for edibles. 

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My Asian pear and apple trees are overflowing with fruit this year as are all my citrus trees including lemon, lime, tangerine, and tangelo. Grapes are ripening and will be harvested next month. Miniature or dwarf fruit trees are available at local nurseries allowing you to grow your favorite treats in troughs or containers. Berries can be grown in barrels to boost your antioxidant quotient to fight disease and keep you healthy. 

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There is nothing better than plucking a few leaves from your aromatic herbs, ripe fruit from your tree, tangy berries from the bush, or any veggie growing in your personal plots to add flavor and health to your cuisine. Growing in the ground or pots near your cooking environment will decrease stress and improve your happiness quotient.  Your botanical babies are beautiful!

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Plant your own garden of eating today.  Enjoy paradise on a plate. Bon appetite!

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Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1614/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Garden-of-eating.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. Her newest children’s picture book series, Stella Bella’s Barnyard Adventures, will be available soon. Buy copies of her books, www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings. Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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Pets, Plants, and Poisons

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
0
Empowerment
Pets, Plants, and Poisons

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2
Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian
Colorful African daisies. Photos Cynthia Brian

“Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men or animals. Some seem to smile, some have a sad expression, some are pensive and diffident, others again are plain, honest, and upright.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

And may I add . some are very poisonous!
Since I was a child growing up on a farm, I have adopted and raised every type of creature, both domesticated and wild. Dogs, cats, rabbits, squirrels, chickens, ducks, geese, cows, horses, sheep, ponies, deer, birds, pigs, goats and more roamed our barnyards. My family never allowed indoor pets, yet many of our animal friends followed us around our expansive gardens as we did our chores, sometimes nibbling on roses or gnawing on low voltage wires, but never getting sick. It seemed that our animals had an innate knowledge of what plant was poisonous and they stayed clear of the oleander, digitalis, hemlock, and hundreds of other toxic specimens.
Recently I was hired by a lovely client to provide a colorful garden design for the family’s backyard. The caveat to the project was that their sweet puppy ate anything growing. While we walked around the yard, the pooch did indeed sample everything. When I submitted my suggested planting list, I was confident that my choices would be fine with a plant-eating pet.
I was wrong. Several of my choices could have caused health issues depending on the amount consumed, potential allergies, or other matters.
In general, plants that are considered toxic or poisonous to people are poisonous to most animals. For example, although humans enjoy many types of mushrooms, there are numerous lethal mushrooms when ingested. If your pet nibbles on a mushroom in the wild, it must be treated as toxic. There have been instances where a plant that is safe for humans has been poisonous to an animal. Often, animals eat larger amounts of the plant resulting in a greater problem.
As I went back to the drawing board to research a list of non-ruinous flowers, it became apparent that contradictions and confusion reign. In one report, a specimen was listed as safe, and in another, it was listed as dangerous. It became important to investigate the Scientific name as well as the Family name. For example, 1,000 species and over 10,000 hybrids of begonia, Scientific name: Begonia spp., Family: Begoniaceae are toxic, while climbing begonia known as Rex Begonia, Scientific name: Cissus dicolor, Family: Vitaceae are fine. The health, age, and size of the pet as well as how much they devour is a factor in whether your pet will be affected. A website that is helpful as a guide for plants that are toxic to dogs is the ASPCA. Visit https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/dogs-plant-list.
After examining numerous sources and talking to experts, my recommendation is to check with your personal veterinarian before landscaping as your doctor knows your pet best. Many plants with no known toxicity could still cause an allergic reaction under the right conditions. The juice or sap from some plants contains oxalate crystals which are shaped like tiny needles that could result in irritation of the mouth, or in severe instances, cause swelling of the throat and breathing difficulties. Exposure to selected juice or sap could cause itching or burning dermatitis. Minor toxicity plants may not cause any symptoms or induce mild vomiting or diarrhea. Major toxicity plants could have serious effects on body organs such as the heart, liver, or kidney. Just as each human reacts individually to stimuli, so do animals. For this reason, a consultation with your veterinarian is advised.
Of course, there are other circumstances as well. Roses are considered healthy to eat for people and pets if they have not been treated with pesticides, insecticides, or other chemicals. However, a puncture wound from a thorn could cause irritation and pain in both humans and animals. Does this mean that we don’t plant roses?
It’s summer and tomatoes, peppers and beans fill many potagers. I’ve witnessed several friends’ pets navigating the garden munching the ripe juicy veggies straight from the vine. The leaves of tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes contain solanine which can cause gastrointestinal distress and a slow heart rate. The beans could cause additional gas while potatoes need to be cooked before eating. Do we not plant vegetables?
What about garlic and onions? Plants in the Allium family can cause anemia in animals. Certain literature indicates that plants in this family should not be given to pets. Yet, garlic has been a medicinal food for centuries. It is rich in nutrients that boost immunity to numerous ailments. Our family feeds our animals small amounts of raw garlic as an agent to deter worms and repel ticks. Our pets are always healthy. The level of danger must be weighed by you, individually for your animals in concert with the expertise of your veterinarian.
I’ve always considered goats environmentally correct weed-eating and fertilizing animal machines. If you’ve ever witnessed hundreds of goats clearing a hillside of blackberry bushes, poison oak, and a variety of tall grasses, it’s easy to believe that these ruminants can and will consume anything . and everything. Yet, there are over 700 species of plants that could cause toxicity in goats. Fortunately for them, their internal antenna steers them away from the poisonous plants unless starvation is a factor.
This is a curated list of “safe plants for pets” culled from numerous research. With that being written, remember that you and your vet know your pet the best, so make sure to double-check that your beloved friend won’t eat something harmful at home or while traveling.
alstroemeria
aster
petunias
bee balm
orchid
statice
rosemary
thyme
pot marigolds (calendula)
sage
catnip
basil
lemon balm
canna lilies
camellias
fuchsias
lilac
nasturtium
magnolia bushes (need full sun, purple, pink, white)
snapdragons
star jasmine
ginger lily
viburnum
African daisy
cornflower (Bachelor Buttons)
rabbit’s foot fern
sword fern
celosia
chervil (French parsley)
heuchera (coral bells)
daylilies
Easter lilies
gloxinia
grape hyacinth
baby tears (stonecrop)
hollyhock
ice plant
jasmine
crape myrtle
mahonia (Oregon grape)
plumbago
rose
scabious (pincushion flower)
stargazer lily
stevia
strawberry
sunflower
sweet potato vine
coreopsis
torch lily (red hot poker)
impatiens

Currently, my landscape is full of a stunning sea of swaying naked ladies. In the Amaryllis genus, this flowering bulb contains a variety of toxic alkaloids with the most prevalent being lycorine. Again, the lethality posed by pet ingestion is contradictory and the medical literature contains no pet-related cases reported. Fortunately, my pets are not interested in this flower, but if you have animals that are nature nibblers, exercise caution, not only in your garden but when out on walks or hikes with your animals.
Do your homework. Keep your plants and pets safe from poisoning. And in case I didn’t write this enough, talk to your vet!
Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.
Blue plumbago is eye-catching and safe for pets in the garden. Photos Cynthia Brian
Roses and snapdragons grow well together, yet roses have thorns. Photos Cynthia Brian
Sword ferns are excellent for shade gardens. Photos Cynthia Brian
Hollyhocks come in numerous colors and are hummingbird magnets. Photos Cynthia Brian
Canna of all hues adds a tropical flair.
The spectacular pink naked ladies grow in any soil condition.
Mahonia, AKA Oregon grape.
Muscari, also called grape hyacinth.
Cynthia Brian and bunny are blessed by a garden angel!
  Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your fall 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!r 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyler Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com. Her newest children’s picture book series, Stella Bella’s Barnyard Adventures, will be available soon. Buy copies of her books, www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings. Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures. Cynthia@Star-Style.com www.GoddessGardener.com

Shade Made

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
0
Empowerment
Shade Made

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“Gardens are not made by sitting in the shade.”  Rudyard Kipling

Gardens may not be cultivated while we are sitting in the shade, but on a hot summer day, there is nothing better than sipping an ice-cold lemonade while resting in one of my shadowy gardens.

This year the world has been experiencing the hottest weather on record. In the United Kingdom, July temperatures were as high as 25 degrees Fahrenheit more than normal. According to data from the U.S. Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States sweltered through 92 of the highest recorded heatwaves while worldwide, records were broken 188 times during this same period. Scorching fires are raging throughout Europe as well as the United States as firefighters battle the blazes and populations evacuate minutes ahead of blistering disasters. The influence of global warming is dire as this rapid climate change portends a hotter future.

As much as I adore the sunshine, it is critical to make room for shade in our landscapes to shield our bodies and our plants from the scorching weather. Although most colorful plants prefer sunshine, we still can create a retreat from the rays that will be beautiful and restorative. 

All plants need sunshine to photosynthesize. Most gardens enjoy the sun at certain times and shade at other times. It’s important to watch when that time is for your garden. Any area that does not get direct sunlight may be considered shade. When you read a label and it says, “Plant in full shade”, this means you must plant in an area that gets less than three hours of direct sunlight with only filtered sun the rest of the day. If the label reads “Plant in partial shade”, find a spot where there is more shade than sun. If you plant a specimen that requires full sun, it will not thrive in the shade.  “Partial sun” means four to six hours of sunlight. 

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Most shade-loving plants are understory plants that grow under the forest or jungle canopy. In areas where redwoods provide acidic leaf litter, ferns succeed. Shade-loving plants appreciate rich organic matter. Plants grow more slowly in the shade because the lower amount of light they receive causes photosynthesis to be slower. The good news is that shade plants usually require less water.

Trees are the anchors of any shade garden. They can be evergreen or deciduous adding beauty and privacy to the landscape with interesting bark, flowers, fruit, and potential vibrant fall foliage while blocking the hot sun and keeping our homes cooler. Oak, magnolia, maple, redwood, weeping willow, birch, horse chestnut, pistache, walnut, and many other species are possibilities depending on the size of your site, long-term expectations, soil conditions, height considerations, and watering needs. A tree is an investment in the future that may outlive several generations. Before planting any tree, do your homework while getting input from your family on what the desires and needs for a tree are. For example, do kids want to climb or build a treehouse, do you want to hang a hammock, are you looking for seasonal flowers and fruit, is autumn color essential, are you seeking a privacy screen, is year-round interest important, or are you seeking a tree that accents your home’s theme? 

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Once you have an established shade area, it’s time to fill it with plants that will not only survive, but thrive in dappled, partial, or full shade. 

Here’s a list of groundcovers, shrubs, perennials, herbs, and annuals that fit the requirements. As always, read labels before purchasing to determine necessary growing conditions and size at maturity.

Ajuga

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Fern

Hellebore

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Heuchera

Golden Creeping Jenny

Pachysandra

Tiarella Foam Flower

Vinca Minor

Hydrangea

Bleeding Heart

Begonia

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Dogwood

Impatiens

Astilbe

Coleus

Caladium

Bee Balm

Hosta

Primrose

Foxglove

Aquilegia (columbine)

Arum Italicum

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Azalea

Rhododendron

Fuchsia

Daphne

Heavenly Bamboo

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Chinese Yew

Boxwood

Abelia

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Japanese Pittosporum (mock orange)

Photinia

Tree Peony

Viburnum

Parsley

Chives

Thyme

Lemon Balm

Mint

Lawns: Growing a lawn in the shade is tricky. Fine fescue grasses will sprout in the shade. When installing a lawn make sure the seed mixture states, “for shade”.

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Finally, once you have designed your shade shelter, install a bench, swing, hammock, or chair where you can take a breather to cool off during a sweltering afternoon or recuperate from digging deeply. Drink plenty of water, hydrate your plants, and admire your horticultural accomplishments.

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Sometimes gardens are made in the shade.

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

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Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1612/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Made-in-the-shade.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 books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

#climatechange,#fires,#shade,#trees,#rest,#water, #cynthiabrian,#starstyle,#goddessgardener,#voiceamerica, #gardening

Animal Gardening

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
0
Empowerment
Animal Gardening

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Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian

 

Animal Plants

by Cynthia Brian

Photos and Text © 2022 Cynthia Brian

“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” Immanuel Kant

Our family has enjoyed an affinity for the animal kingdom for as long as I can remember. We loved creatures so much that we often named a pet for an animal of another species that they resembled. We’ve had dogs named Bear and Wolf, cats named Panther and Tiger, and even a horse named Spider, although he didn’t look like an arachnid. 

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In the plant world, botanists and taxonomists who name plants also look to the realm of animals using zoographical Latin or Greek-based names for various genera and species. Sometimes a part of the plant will remind them of an animal, or sometimes it is the marketing department of a plant breeder that comes up with the fun, and often humorous name for a new cultivar. 

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I walked through my garden giggling at the numerous “animals” that are growing. Trees, flowers, wildflowers, and even weeds bear the names of creatures. If you are looking for an amusing gardening endeavor to do with children this fall, ask them if they would like to plant an animal garden. Discuss their favorite critters, then research specimens to fit the bill.

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Edit your list grouping plants that will demand the same soil, watering, and sun/shade conditions together in one plot or pot. Mix annuals and perennials for an ongoing animal parade that will last throughout the year. Engage in a creative craft project making nametags for each plant. (Popsicle sticks are traditional favorites) Because the weather is too hot and dry to plant in summer, it’s advised to wait for the cooler days of autumn to start digging a new garden. However, if you want to plant a few species in containers now, let the animal party begin. Make sure to follow directions on the plant tags and water frequently as containers lose moisture quickly.

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Here is a partial list of the excitement to come with animal plants:

Lambsquarter

Cats Ear 

Chickweed

Coyote Bush

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Buzzard Breath

Duck Salad

Cockle Bur

Fleabane

Henbit

Goosefoot

Turkey Mullein

Horseweed

Pigweed

Prickly Oxtongue

Goose Grass

Foxtails

Cattails

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Swine cress

Birdseye Pearlwort

Goosefoot

Fat hen

Dogwood

Elephant Ears

Catnip

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Deerweed

Wolfsbane

Dogbane

Foxglove

Henbane

Horse Chestnut

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Leopard’s Bane

Bee Balm

Monkey Grass

Donkey Tail

Butterfly Bush

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Locust Tree

Cockscomb

Gopher Plant

Hen and Chicks

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Pussywillow

Skunk Plant

Snake plant

Starfish Flower

Zebra plant

Lambs Ears

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Bear’s Breeches

Trout Lily

Cardinal Flower

Deer fern

Deer tongue

Pigsqueak (Bergenia)

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Dragon lily

Snapdrago

Catchfly

Foxtrot

Horsetail

Goats beard

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Lion’s Tail

Lobster Claws

Mouse plant

Ox-eye daisy

Panda wild ginger

Pig butt

Rabbit’s foot fern

Porcupine Agave

Tickseed

Toad lily

Wormwood

Cranesbill geranium

Lion’s Ear

Turtlehead

Spider plant

Crabgrass

Scorpions tail

Flamingo flower

Kangaroo paw

Bunny Tails

Butterfly weed

Partridge Berry

Fishtail palm

Leopard’s bane

Zebra grass

Spiderwort

Squirrel cup

Wake robin

Dinosaur tree

Hedgehog echinacea

Cynthia Brian’s Mid-Month Gardening Tips

ü  SPREAD a blanket on the lawn and look towards the heavens to see animal shapes in the clouds.

ü  DRY herbs by hanging bunches upside down in a dry place, like a garage or shed. Dry lavender, sage, thyme, rosemary, and oregano.  Store the dried leaves in a jar.

ü  DOUSE weeds with a concoction of white vinegar and liquid dish soap. To a gallon of the vinegar, add a capful of dish soap, shake in a spray bottle, and use proactively.

ü  GATHER the seeds of fennel and cilantro after the flowers are spent. Dry the seeds on a cooking sheet. Cilantro seeds are called coriander. Both add flavor and texture to both sweet and savory recipes.

ü  PRESERVE flat-leaf parsley, basil, and chives by freezing them in ice cube trays. Put a spoonful of the chopped leaves in each cell, add water, and freeze. When you want a dash of fresh flavor, pop an ice cube.

ü  PLANT edamame and sweet potatoes, both warm-weather crops. The soil needs to be warmer than 60 degrees. Plan on harvesting edamame in 90-100 days when the pods are plump but still green for a heart healthy omega 3 boost. To make potassium-rich sweet potatoes sweeter, store at 90 degrees for two weeks after harvesting, 

ü  DEADHEAD roses, annuals, and perennials as blooms fade to keep them coming through frost.

ü  GROW celery by rooting the base of your store-bought vegetable. Put the stub in a glass jar filled with water in a sunny location, then transplant the root to a container or garden.

ü  HARVEST cucumbers and make an easy spicy summer snack as well as a soothing eye pack. Peel, slice, add red onions, rice vinegar, and marinate for one hour in the refrigerator. Save the peels to place on your eyes to eliminate puffiness after swimming.

ü  WATCH butterflies pollinate your flowers as they flutter from blossom to blossom on monarda, tithonia, sunflowers, zinnias, butterfly bush, cosmos, alyssum, marigolds, thyme, oregano, and marjoram.

ü  EXTEND your garden’s production with a second season planting of beets, scallions, kohlrabi, chard, broccoli, lettuce, peas, and carrots to carry your fresh offerings into late fall.

ü  TOSS a salad comprised of edible herbs, tender leaves, and fruit from your garden including basil, sage, thyme, lovage, fennel, arugula, spinach, chives, chard, tarragon, kale, beet tops, lettuce, cilantro, parsley, sorrel, apples, and plums dressed with lemon juice and olive oil for a tasty jolt of mineral rich nutrition.

ü  SHARE your excess vegetable and fruit harvest with the neighborhood and take the extras to the local food bank for those in need to savor.

Treat your animal plants with care. 

Amuse yourself, your family, and your friends with your garden barnyard!

Photos and more: 

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1611/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Animal-plants.html

Happy Gardening and 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.

BEST-cyn-pig,goat,rooster.jpeg

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

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Hummingbirds are Pollinators

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
0
Empowerment
Hummingbirds are Pollinators

hummingbird from Julie Stagg.jpeg

By Cynthia Brian

 

“Like the hummingbird sipping nectar from every flower, I fly joyfully through my days, seeing beauty in everything.”– Amethyst Wyldfyre

 

After tucking a hibiscus plucked from my mother’s garden behind my ear, I was immediately the object of desire for a hungry hummer. The iridescent red crown identified the hovering nectar hunter as a male Anna’s hummingbird. The females and young have green crowns. What a photo op, but alas, no camera or iPhone in sight. 

Of the known 331 species of hummingbirds, 27 types are found in the United States, and 14 reside in California. Hummers only live in North and South America. When most people think of pollinators, bees, butterflies, bats, beetles, birds, and moths may come to mind. Yet, hummingbirds are some of the greatest pollinators as they can visit one to three thousand flowers in a single day. As they whiz from flower to flower, pollen from the stamen sticks to their long bills and forehead as they feed. They prefer plants with tubular-shaped flowers and many plants have evolved (some with the help of human intervention) to be more attractive to hummingbirds with brighter colors, higher nectar counts, and daylight blooms. Because they have long, slim bills, hummingbirds can feed deep into chambers and cannulas that bees or other pollinators cannot reach. They also eat tiny insects and spiders that are detrimental to flower beds and vegetable gardens. 

Hummingbird Paradise.jpeg

Native and navitar plants that are red, blue, orange, yellow, and purple are favorites. What is the difference between native and navitar plants? 

Native:
• highly adapted to the climate and soil they are naturally growing in
• requires less babying (within their particular climate) than non-natives
• promotes biodiversity throughout your garden
• naturally resistant to local pests
• attract beneficial pollinators

Navitar:

• combination of the words ‘native’ and ‘cultivar’ (result of careful selection and crossbreeding by humans)
• wider variety of flower colors, shapes & forms
• incorporate different sizes of plant
• heightened insect or disease resistance
• select preferred hardiness
• main concern for – and argument against – is their lack of genetic diversity

Plants Attractive to Hummingbirds

Petunia

petunias.jpeg

Calibrachoa

Catmint

Sage

Salvia

salvia-blue.jpeg

Penstemon (beardtongue)

Bee balm

bee balm.jpeg

Daylily

Fuchsia

Cardinal flower

Blazing star

Garden phlox

Lobelia

Weigela

Oregon grape

Azalea

azaleas.jpeg

Currant

Flowering quince

Trumpet vine

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Trumpet honeysuckle

Bleeding Heart

Butterfly bush

Cardinal Flower

Columbine

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon-Hibiscus syriacus.jpeg

Hibiscus

Lupin

Purple Rhododendron

Zinnia

zinnia with bee - 2.jpeg

Lantana

Red hot poker (torch lily)

Echinacea

Delphinium

Crocosmia

Hollyhocks

Pink Bower Vine

lantana & lavender in rock garden.jpeg

Hummingbirds remain in landscapes that provide all the supplies they need to survive and thrive. Besides planting species that will feed them, there are other things you can do to encourage hummingbirds to hang around.

Bathing Fountain: Due to the sticky nature of the nectar, hummingbirds need to bathe frequently. They prefer running water in a shallow area. Bubbling fountains or misters are an important investment in their healthcare. They even will frequent sprinklers!

Nests: Hummingbirds do not nest in birdhouses. They build tiny, usually around 1 inch in diameter, nests camouflaged with lichen, moss, and spider webs. This makes them hard to discover. They can be 3-60 feet from the ground and sometimes as much as ½ mile from their favorite food sources. 

Feeders: Place feeders in areas where you’ll be able to watch the frenzy. It’s best to have multiple feeders to reduce territoriality. Hang them high enough to be safe from cats or predators which include snakes, squirrels, and larger birds. Recommended height is at least 4 feet from the ground. 

Crocosmia , firecracker, roses,.jpeg

Recipe for homemade nectar:

*Boil 4 quarts of water and let it cool. Tap water is fine. Do not use distilled water.

*Dissolve 1 cup cane or beet sugar in the cooled water. Do not use any other type of sugar, artificial sweetener, or honey. 

*Fill feeder ¾ full or however much is used within a few days.

*Store unused remainder in a closed container in the refrigerator for a week.

Maintenance of feeders: It is important to change the mixture every 4-5 days. If the weather exceeds 90 degrees, the nectar will ferment. Change it more often if it gets cloudy. Clean feeders between refilling without topping off. Many feeders can be safely sanitized in the dishwasher. Otherwise, use mild detergent, wash, and rinse thoroughly. Monthly sterilize the feeders in a solution of bleach and water. 

Other Tips: To entertain all pollinators, maintain an organic landscape free of pesticides, insecticides, and chemical fertilizers. Your garden is their dinner table, and their daily dining provide the ingredients for your dinner table. 

Indigo daylily.jpeg

My garden is buzzing with every type of pollinator. As I sit in my office writing this article, a beautiful, black-chinned hummingbird with its shimmering purple and white collar was busy outside my window investigating my roses. Again, I couldn’t get an appropriate photo through the window screen and shutter, but the visit was enchanting. 

See the beauty in everything and thrill to the metallic humming of the wings of these living hovercrafts. Fly joyfully through your day!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1610/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Humming-along.html 

Cynthia Brian ferns-roses.jpeg

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

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

cyntha brian with books SM copy.jpgHire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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