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Sheltering with Mother Nature

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Empowerment
Sheltering with Mother Nature

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Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian 

Sheltering with Mother Nature

“Too blessed to be stressed!” Bumper sticker

By Cynthia Brian

Are you feeling more in touch with Mother Earth as we near the beginning of eight months of stay-at-home mandates because of Covid-19? Or are you feeling antsy, stressed, and out-of-sorts? Retreating to our landscapes was initially a salve to the pain of the corona virus, social unrest, and political nastiness as we encountered improved air quality, quieter skies, and increased bird activity. Then the California fires arrived bringing choking smoke, scorching heat, and black ash. An additional layer of frazzle to our daily lives multiplied because we were unable to spend time in our gardens or outdoors for any reason.

In normal times, I work in the garden daily. It is an extension of my home, a serene, yet wild place where I am most creative and 100% myself. Every morning I walk through my property, a mug of java in hand, giving thanks for the beauty, solitude, and bounty of my magical oasis. Getting my hands in the dirt soothes my soul. I lose track of time as I weed, prune, trim, fertilize, water, and bite into a crunchy apple straight off the tree. I come up with the best ideas for my books, columns, radio shows, and lectures. Before they float away with the wind. I race to write my thoughts down.

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As a fire prevention strategy, I have been clearing the brush and understory plants from my creeks when the air permits. If you live near open space, hills, or creeks, make sure to take time to remove dead trees, limbs, and brush as we have at least another month of fire season. Leave a couple of small brush piles as habitat for owls. Owls dine on a smorgasbord of voles, mice, rats, and other rodents that wreak havoc in the garden. A family of owls can devour several thousand rodents during the nesting season with the young eating as many as four per night. Add a nesting box 15 feet off the ground to a branch of an older tree. When you invite owls into your landscape, you won’t have to use harmful poisons, plus their hooting sound is calming.

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Since sheltering in Mother Nature has been impossible these past two months, I find myself exhausted, jittery, tense, and concerned for the future of our country and our planet.  For me, this means getting creative about the sensory experience that being outdoors provides and bringing those familiar feelings and scents indoors. If we can’t be in Mother Nature, let’s shelter with Mother Nature.

Here are some things you can do to relieve stress, feel energized, and rebalanced.

  1. 1. TAP into the sounds of nature on your favorite radio network.  Listening to the trickling of a creek, the rushing of a river, or the pounding of ocean waves is relaxing. Or tune in to the cooing doves or the whistling cockatiels. Nature sounds quiet our beating hearts and quiets our blood pressure. 
  2. 2. CREATE a bedtime spray that will alter your emotional and physiological mood. Gather fragrant roses petals and lavender in a glass jar. Pour boiling water over the petals, cover, and allow to sit in the sun for several hours to make a floral tea. Add a couple of drops of alcohol and pour the concoction into a sprayer. Spray your pillow before going to bed. Lavender alleviates tension and the fragrance of roses stimulates your immune system. You’ll slumber soundly. Experiment with other florals. Jasmine mitigates anxiety and bergamot increases positivity while reducing stress. 
  3. 3. EAT fresh. Harvest fruits, herbs, and vegetables as needed. Instead of picking a bushel of tomatoes, only pick what you need immediately. Apples, figs, beets, radishes, arugula, eggplant, and peppers are ripe.
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  5. 4. PICK a bouquet of fall blooming flowers such as Black-eyed Susan or echinacea to lessen anxiety. Add a small branch of pistache as it turns red.  Just seeing fresh flowers and colorful leaves intensifies luxury and joy.
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  7. 5. ADD a small, desktop fountain to your office. Watching the movement of the water and hearing the tinkling helps bring the outdoors in.
  8. 6. LOOK at photos of nature. Everywhere I go, I snap pictures of nature scenes that inspire me. When I’m feeling blue, I check out the green.
  9. 7. COLLECT reminders of the outdoors to showcase indoors. Turkeys are leaving their beautiful feathers in yards as they peck at the autumn seeds. Pinecones and acorns are dropping as squirrels stash treasures for winter.  Make a fall arrangement to touch and admire. 
  10. 8. PAINT a pumpkin with glitter and glamour. We’ll have the second full moon of the month on October 31st. Bring on the sparkle!
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  12. 9. PLACE a pot of mums on your patio, porch, or balcony to admire through a window. 
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  14. 10. BUY any book from my website at https://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store and besides the extra seeds and goodies you will receive, I will send you a FREE musical CD to help you relax and re-balance. 

Despite what our current leader says, the coronavirus will not be going away any time soon. We must continue to only listen to the scientists and heed the warnings of the medical establishment who have the training to understand these dire circumstances. The pandemic does not favor a political party. It recognizes no boundaries. We must be vigilant, diligent, savvy, and continue to wear masks, employ social distancing, and shelter-in-place as much as possible. When the air is clear, spend time outside. Hike, bike, walk, stroll, run, swim, and garden. 

The leaves are starting to change into their glorious fall wardrobe. Autumn is a prime time for planting, but don’t risk your health on red-alert or spare-the-air days. There is plenty of time to plant bulbs, trees, and reseed or install lawns as temperatures will be warm into November.

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We live in a beautiful area and are indeed too blessed to be stressed. Vote for decency and respect as you shelter with Mother Nature. I wish you peace, tranquility, and good health as we weather these disasters together.

Savor a sunset. Happy growing.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1417/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Sheltering-with-Mother-Nature.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 c, celebrating 21 years of service to the community. www.BetheSTARYouAre.org. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

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

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Risky Business

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Empowerment
Risky Business

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“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from a cornfield.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

When you bite into a crunchy apple, eat a bunch of juicy grapes, or slather butter on roasted sweet corn, unless you’ve grown these crops in your personal garden, do you ever wonder about the life of the farmer who provides you with your food? To grow healthy, nutritional produce, farmers work daily, rain or shine, in every season, to provide city dwellers with sustenance. They get paid when they sell their harvest, yet it only takes one natural disaster to destroy their year-long labors and erase the opportunity for remuneration.

Farming is a risky business.

A few times when I was a child, our family suffered the fate of a failed harvest. The culprit was usually a heavy rain mildewing the fruit before it could be picked.  This year, the demon was the horrific fires with the unending days of suffocating smoke that smoke-tainted the grapes. 100% of our Cabernet Sauvignon will hang on the vines to rot because they cannot be pressed and made into wine. The smoke-taint is so pervasive that the taste of eating a single grape is like licking an ashtray. Most growers of red grapes throughout Northern California are suffering the same fate. There will be no check in the mail. A full year of blood, sweat, and tears up in smoke, literally!

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With global warming and climate change, farms are going to fail.  Food insecurity will become more prevalent, even in abundant America. In the face of natural, financial, and social crisis, now more than ever, we all need to learn to be food resilient by reconnecting to the land and growing our own to supplement what we buy. Urban agriculture is a buffer to economic instability building resilience through biodiversity and organic gardening practices.

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Autumn has arrived and with it the optimal time to plan before planting. Start small. Plant densely and use crop rotation for seasonal vegetables. Intermingle flowers and vegetables.  Plants need water or they will suffer and die. Until the rains come, you will need to observe your plantings to ascertain that seeds and roots are not drying out. Before you begin your planting process, planning is essential.

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How to Plan to Succeed in Planting

PREPARE your soil. Add aged manure and compost to improve absorption.

GROUP plants according to their watering needs. A succulent garden requires very little water. Astilbe and ferns require substantial H20.

CONSIDER the best time to plant. You want your plants to establish a strong root system while the soil is still warm, yet the days are cooler, but before the winter freeze arrives.

MULCH with two or three inches to retain moisture, slow the growth of weeds, and prevent erosion.  This can be shredded newspaper, bark, grass clippings, leaves, wood chips, stone, or pebbles.

FERTILIZE right before it rains so that the fertilizer absorbs into the roots and the soil.

Vegetarians seeking protein through plant-based items can choose to plant lentils, beans, spinach, chickpeas, broccoli, white cabbage, spring greens, and figs. My tiny cherry pear tomatoes are flourishing amongst the Amaryllis Belladonna and the Jacobinia in a planter box outside my kitchen window.

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When nothing much is colorful in the garden except the roses, sage, and crape myrtles, it’s marvelous to be able to pluck a few cherry tomatoes for a salad and three stalks of Amaryllis Belladonna for a flower arrangement from the same plot. I like using the multi-colored pistache berries in arrangements in the fall, but squirrels and turkeys are also claiming them as their favorite dinner. 

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Farming is not easy but becoming a backyard farmer will be rewarding and supply your family with enough produce to sustain you during good and bad times. Even a little self-sufficiency with your gardening endeavors will lower your risk of food shortages.

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for October

PLANT clover in your lawn or as a cover crop as it grabs oxygen from the air and stores it in the soil. Birds pecking at your lawn are not eating it. They are dining on insects that could be harmful to your lawn. The birds are your friends indicating that your lawn has an invader.

RESEED lawns or install sod. If your soil is too acidic, add lime for balance. Grasses require a moderate pH between 5.8 and 7.2.

MAKE a bouquet of whatever is blooming in your garden. Russian sage and Japanese maple leaves add texture and color as do the green, blue, and rose-colored pistache berries.

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SAMPLE your grapes and make sure they aren’t smoke-tainted.

DIG and divide iris rhizomes in October. Make sure to keep a few inches of the leaves on the stems and bury the roots two inches deep, eighteen to twenty inches apart.

EXPERIMENT by planting a variety of lettuces to keep your salads fresh all season. You can even plant in a pot on a sunny windowsill and snip often. Clip the microgreens as they sprout for delicate, delicious delights.

GROUP vegetables and flowers together, especially in small spaces for maximum production.

ADD a splashing fountain to attract the birds, hummingbirds, and entertain you.

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CLEAR creek beds, hillsides, and property of dead branches and debris as fire prevention.

 

PRUNE your berry bushes, including summer raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries by removing dead canes, thinning new canes, weeding around the plant, then mulching with wood chips to keep the weeds out and the nutrients in.

JOIN the Lafayette Garden Clubs Zoom presentation where I’ll be speaking on Thursday, October 8th. For more information visit https://www.lafayettegardenclub.com/calendar

WALK in nature when you feel stressed to kick up your cognitive performance. A stroll through a park, a jog onClear brush and trees.jpeg a trail (wear or bring a mask), or a simple skip through your back yard will do wonders for your mental fatigue.

Happy gardening. Happy growing.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1416/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Risky-business.html

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

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

 

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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Fall is Now!

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Empowerment
Fall is Now!

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SPONSORED BY THE LAMORINDA WEEKLY

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Publishers Andy and Wendy Scheck http://lamorindaweekly.com

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THANK YOU!

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VOTE FOR CANDIDATES WHO CARE ABOUT DOING THE RIGHT THING FOR ALL OF THE U.S.A,! 


OUR DEMOCRACY DEPENDS ON YOU!


MIRACLE MOMENT®

“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”

Thomas Paine


MESSAGE FROM CYNTHIA BRIAN, Founder/Executive Director

Booth at Pear Festival with CIn normal times, today I would be celebrating the beginning of fall with our volunteers at our BTSYA booth at the Pear and Wine Festival where we would be providing fun activities for children, giving away books to increase literacy, and encouraging positivity. This gathering is a time to celebrate our “harvest” of serving the community, country, and world. Every year our booth has been sponsored by Andy and Wendy Scheck, publishers of the Lamorinda Weekly newspaper where I have been a columnist since 2008. Because of Covid-19, all in-person activities and events have been canceled so the Lamorinda Weekly decided to honor our autumn festivities by sponsoring this newsletter. We are grateful.

So much has occurred in the last month that it is mind-boggling. Deadly towering infernos, thirty days of red alerts and save-the-air days, falling ash, smoke-taint on red grapes, civil unrest, political nastiness, and all in the midst of the pandemic. I’ve been busy (and sadly) moving out of our office building where Be the Star You Are!® has been headquartered for the past twenty-one years.

As part of Operation Disaster Relief, we have donated over $3500 of brand new books and other goods to survivors of the California fires. We have also provided radio interviews and publicity to authors, actors, artists, and others who have had all of their personal engagements canceled due to the coronavirus. Our Star Teen Book Review volunteers have written hundreds of book reviewsto help children, teens, parents, teachers, and others discover the love of reading. We have welcomed several youth to be content providers, adding their unique voices to the public conversation. We’ve trained teens join our radio family as journalists and radio reporters.

I have never been a political person. Since the time I could vote, I have never voted a party line. As a history major, I read all the materials, vet the source, study the issues with care and caution, then vote for the people, programs, and policies that I believe will best serve the citizens of our nation. This election season is the volatile, derisive, and divisive. It seems we are on the verge of another civil war. I urge you to study the ballot carefully. Cast your vote for decency, respectability, and for the people who will empower our country, not divide it. The world is watching. Americans are waiting. Thomas Paine was astute in his words.

Be brave, be smart, be strong. Do your part. WEAR A MASK! VOTE!

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556

Cynthia@BetheStarYouAre.org

https://www.BetheStarYouAre.org

http://www.BTSYA.org

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DONATE: https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504


SPOTLIGHT on AUTHOR, JOHN LAYNE

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Author, John Layne will gallop into the 2021 season of StarStyle® Radio with Red River Reunion a classic Western Fiction novel set in 1877 Texas. It follows U.S. Marshal Luxton Danner and Texas Ranger Wes Payne on their mission to seek out and eliminate the vicious outlaw threat on the banks of the Red River. They risk everything to defend the settlers and uphold frontier law. Encountering tragic circumstances along the way, the duo band together with the settlers to survive, thrive and create a safe and prosperous future for all. Fans of Layne’s distinctive style will enjoy his rich characters and period details that bring the Old West back to life. www.johnlaynefiction.com.

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WELCOME NEW EXPRESS YOURSELF! REPORTERS

Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio is thrilled to welcome two new reporters to our roster, Maggie Campione and Nihal Gill.

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Maggie Campione is a seventh grade student and passionate about theater, reading, public speaking and most importantly, helping others. Her segment is called “The American Connection.” where she will present stories about community connections and staying united during difficult times. Listen to her segment beginning on October 4, 2020.

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Nihal Gill, sophomore at Turlock High School loves to play golf and is on the THS varsity golf team.  His love for music is expressed through the piano and with his love for robotics he created a non-profit called “Project Spark” to reach out to young elementary students to teach them STEM/Robotics through hands-on kits, and coding.  He incorporates the four aspects of STEM into his once a month community classes. His segment is entitled Spark the Interest. He’ll introduce topics that are important for health and wellness for teens all over the world. Nihal will debut on October 28th.


FALL KINDNESS

by Karen Kitchel 

Catch a glimpse of leaves turning golden.

     Stroll down a less traveled path.

          Inhale the scent of a new season.

               Remember this amazing autumn day!

Karen Kitchel who penned two chapters in the book, Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World, is the Kindness Coordinator volunteer with BTSYA. She serves meals to the homeless and is a volunteer teacher, writer, job coach, and mentor. www.scatteringkindness.com

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VOLUNTEERS SPEAK UP!

Our content writer volunteers speak up and speak out by writing about what  is on the minds of the youth and adults of our country. 


Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
A judge who will never be forgotten

By Sarah McClenaghan

On September 18, 2020, America lost one of the most rememberable judges’ in the Supreme Court to pancreatic cancer: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was an associate justice for many years and made a difference in our country. During her time in court, she was known to argue for gender equality, fight for women’s rights, contributed to civil rights, as well as the rights of workers and supported the separation of church and state.

Women would not be where they are without Ginsburg’s influence in Supreme Court, but she also made an impact on men. It is true she was a role model for women across the country, but men had the opportunity to learn from her leadership, her determination and her life. This shows that Ginsburg was a leader of all humanity, not just women, which has been to inspiration to many Americans.

Continue reading at http://www.btsya.com/resources.html

Thank you, Ginsburg.

Sarah McClenaghan is an inspiring content creator from Lancaster, PA who loves to explore, read and drink coffee. Sarah volunteers with Be the Star You Are!®

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The Mysteries of Online Learning  

by Angelica Paramoshin 

Upon the unanticipated arrival of the raging coronavirus, our society was flung into a seemingly never ending quarantine lifestyle. With this followed the forced embracement of remote learning for the many months that followed.

As a current student in high school, I was initially overwhelmed by the sudden alteration from in-person learning to fully remote. Within a few days of the unprecedented change, my mind was flooded with thoughts surrounding the questionable reality we were all living in. It was very difficult to adjust to the confined daily routine that embodied quarantine. With time however, I was luckily able to acclimate to the given circumstances and began improving in my productivity levels.

By improving my ability to complete my assignments in a timely manner, I allowed myself to not continue my interests in volunteering, but to explore new hobbies that would greaten my appreciation for the little things in life.

Continue reading at http://www.btsya.com/resources.html

Angelica Paramoshin, a content creator volunteer with Be the Star You Are!® charity, is a rising senior in high school devoting time during this pandemic to volunteering. 

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BE UPLIFTED WITH BE THE STAR YOU ARE!® RADIO BROADCASTS

As part of our Be the Star You Are! Disaster Relief Outreach program (https://www.bethestaryouare.org/copy-of-operation-hurricane-disaste), StarStyle® Productions, LLC and Be the Star You Are!® are showcasing authors, artists, actors, poets, musicians, and many others, all of whom had had their gigs canceled and are out of work. We believe in supporting creativity that provides escape and joy, especially during tough times. Tune in to StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® on Wednesdays at 4pm PT for “Wednesdays with Writers and Performers” LIVE http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2206/be-the-star-you-are as well as our teen program, Express Yourself!™ airing on Sundays at 3pm PT for “Super Smart Sundays” https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2014/express-yourself

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Both programs broadcast on the Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel and will be archived on that site.

MAKE A DONATION TO OPERATION DISASTER RELIEF TO HELP SURVIVORS OF THE FIRES AND HURRICANES!

Make a DONATION through PAYPAL GIVING FUND and PAYPAL with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES:  https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504


DIRECT LINKS you can use for Be the Star You Are!®

Positive Results: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/positive-results

About Us: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/about_us

Programs: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/programs

How to Help: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/how-to-help

Blog: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/blog-1

Events: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/events

Contact us: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/contact

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GREAT NON PROFITS REVIEWS: https://greatnonprofits.org/org/be-the-star-you-are-inc

GUIDESTAR/CANDID: https://www.guidestar.org/profile/94-3333882

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We invite you to volunteer, get involved, or make a donation. Make a DONATION through PAYPAL GIVING FUND and PAYPAL with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES:  https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504


PLEASE DONATE

t-shirt_btsya_outlinesBTSYA receives no government or corporate support. We count on YOU to help us help others. During this pandemic, all of our fundraising events have been canceled, yet we continue to support those in need. We appreciate a direct donation most of all via PAYPAL GIVING FUND at https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

Checks can be sent to PO Box 376, Moraga, California 94556

http://www.btsya.org


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Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3
PO Box 376
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Fall in a Pot

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
Fall in a Pot

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“Truth comes out in wine.” Pliny the Elder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What herbs can you dry or freeze:

Basil

Bay

Oregano

Sage

Rosemary

Dill

Thyme

Parsley

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

Cynthia’s Italian Family Spaghetti Sauce “Recipe”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy gardening. Happy growing.

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach, as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c, celebrating 21 years of service to the community. www.BetheSTARYouAre.org. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

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

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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Sirius is Serious

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Empowerment
Sirius is Serious

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lettuce

Spinach

Arugula

Swiss Chard

Kale

Beets

Fennel

Turnips

Broccoli

Carrot

Kohlrabi

Shallots

Garlic

Radish

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy gardening. Happy growing.

Cynthi Brian hammock.jpg

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

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

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Summer Dog Days

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Empowerment
Summer Dog Days

Cynthia Brian and her dogs.jpg

Digging Deep with Cynthia Brian, the Goddess Gardener, for August

The Dog Days of Summer

By Cynthia Brian

“Dog Days bright and clear, indicate a happy year!” The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 1817

Sirius, the Dog Star, rises in summer in the Northern Hemisphere with the “dog days” traditionally beginning on the 3rd of July and ending on the 11th of August. The ancient Egyptians welcomed Sirius as a forecaster of the floods of the Nile River. They could prepare for the river’s overflow delivering much needed rich soil to their deserts or destruction to their lands. The Greeks and Romans did not appreciate the sweltering weather believing Sirius, meaning “scorching” in Greek, brought drought, disease, and disaster. The Roman poet, Virgil, described Sirius as the “bringer of drought and plague to frail mortals.”  

August 11th has come and gone, yet the month of August is notoriously hot, dry, and this year, permeated with a global pandemic. And although the historical meaning of “dog days” has nothing to do with our canine comrades, it is a fact that many house-bound families have decided to adopt a hound or two. What better time to romp in the yard with a new puppy than now as we shelter-in-place?

Although you need to keep yourself and your dog well-hydrated in this hot weather, if you planted a succulent garden earlier in the season, you don’t need to waste any water by running the irrigation system. Succulents and cactus thrive in the heat and offer texture, color, form, and interest when planted with consideration. Silk trees and oleanders provide a long blooming season but do not let your hound chew on any oleander leaves as they are poisonous.

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A sparkling clean gurgling fountain can be the watering hole for your pet while placing a small saucer filled with marbles or stones that I call a “butterfly bowl” will be a lifesaver for butterflies, bees, lizards, and other insects.

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While you are out playing with your pooches, glance through your garden to see what projects await attention. I find that these hazy days of August are a great time to assess the needs of my yard. If you have weeds anywhere, they need to be pulled or at least cut to the base before they seed and invade more of your landscape. If perennials have finished flowering, it’s time to deadhead to encourage a repeat bloom. Do your hedges need trimming? Are any sprinkler heads broken? Is your nightscaping working? If your clay soil is compacted, it requires mulch and compost to regenerate the nutrients. Composting is easy and your doggie will probably enjoy helping you to create a compost pile, although don’t let him do his business in it!

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Making Compost

To make nutrient-rich compost, all you need is a combination of greens and browns. The greens are vegetable and fruit peelings, grass clippings, eggshells, coffee grinds, tea leaves, and other organics. The brown is wood shavings, small branches, sawdust, cardboard newspaper.  Keep a lidded pail under your kitchen sink, in the garage, or at the back door for ease of use and just scrape the scraps into the pail. When the pail is full, pour into a 3 x 3 x 3-foot enclosure in an out-of-the-way area or buy a compost tumbler. If you have chickens or rabbits, add their manure to the batch. If you made a pile, with a pitchfork, turn the compost regularly.  Keep the contents damp, and when the compost turns crumbly with a texture of a chocolate cake, it is ready. Add it to your flowerbeds as a fertilizer, moisture retainer, and soil enricher.

Although we want to discourage our furry friends from munching on our plants, if you want a beautiful flowering plant that is not harmful to indoor pets, look no further than orchids. 

spotted mauve phalaenopsis orchid.jpgMy spotted mauve phalaenopsis orchid has been blooming continuously for the past four years. Orchids are trouble-free and undemanding. Just leave them alone, put an ice cube once a week in their container, and let them beautify your home. Outdoors, begonias are now gorgeously in full bloom and they are toxic to all animals. 

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Our dogs watch us eat and they may be inclined to want to join the party. Use caution and knowledge when feeding your canine anything but dog food. Grapes will be ripening in the next few weeks but as delicious as they are for humans, don’t be tempted to feed any to your dog.

green grapes.jpgGrapes can be toxic to a dog, damaging the kidneys, and for some, even eating one grape could be fatal.  Beets and cucumbers are ready to be harvested along with tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and numerous herbs.

beets.jpgIf you plant tomatoes in a large pot with parsley and basil, you can move the container to follow the sun. In small amounts, ripe tomatoes (not green, too much solanine), cucumbers, peppers (specifically red), and eggplants can contribute to a healthy immune system for your dog. Consult your veterinarian before dispensing any fruit or vegetable to your pet.

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Summer is the time to pick and dry fresh herbs to be savored all year. Home-grown herbs have more flavor than store-bought varieties. If your dog has bad breath, a sprig of mint or parsley will remedy the odor. 

It’s easy to dry your own by following these simple steps.

Drying Herbs

  1. 1. Harvest herbs in the morning after the dew has dried. Make sure to pick herbs before they begin to flower. Flowers can be used in all food preparations, but to save your herbs, it’s best to have foliage, not flowers.
  2. 2. Make a clean cut using a sharp shear. Don’t pull herbs or you may disturb the entire plant.
  3. 3. Rinse in cool water, pat with a towel.
  4. 4. Choose a hot, dark, and dry spot where temperatures will be 80 degrees or higher without any humidity. A garage, shed, attic, porch, or even a closet can work. Light degrades the essential oils, thus, make sure the area will be dark.
  5. 5. For large leaf herbs such as basil and mint, the best drying method to place the stems on a rack or screen to allow for air circulation. A window screen works great.
  6. 6. For small to medium-sized leaves such as parsley, sage, thyme, dill, or cilantro, gather into bunches of a dozen stems and hang from the rafters. Don’t hang herbs in the kitchen as steam and the brightness will destroy your craft.

Most herbs only take a week to three weeks to dry perfectly. They can then be put in airtight jars or canisters and stored for future use. Dried herbs make excellent gifts for a cook who is a non-gardener, too. Most herbs are a healthy additive for dogs, but, again, always consult with your vet first.

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Although the dog days of summer are over, you still have time to romp with Rover and watch the twinkling Dog Star in the predawn darkness. Sirius will be the brightest star in the heavens for the next 210,000 years shining with glints of red and blue sparkles! 

Happy gardening. Happy growing.

Read more: http://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1413/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-the-Goddess-Gardener-for-August-The-Dog-Days-of-Summer.html

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

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

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Hot, Hot, Hot!

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Empowerment
Hot, Hot, Hot!

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Some Like it Hot!

By Cynthia Brian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cynthia Brian’s Garden Product Tips

 

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

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

https://bit.ly/2P6FAFL

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

https://bit.ly/2D4ymPL

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

Happy gardening. Happy growing.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1412/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Some-like-it-hot.html

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

Cyn in the garden sun.jpg

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

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Sweet, Savory Summer

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Empowerment
Sweet, Savory Summer

tomatoes fresh from the vine - 2.jpg

Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian

Sweet, Savory Summer

By Cynthia Brian

“Steep thyself in a bowl of summer.” –Virgil

Summer! Just saying the word puts a smile on my face.

Since I was a little girl, the months of July and August were times of great joy, working as a laborer picking or cutting apricots, peaches, and pears in neighbors’ orchards or fruit shed to earn money for college during the day, followed by unwinding with evening baseball games in the fields. Sundays were spent with cousins and relatives swimming in the pool at my grandparents’ vineyard. Our parents would prepare a feast for dinner after harvesting whatever vegetables were ready in the garden while the kids braved the thorny brambles to find the juiciest berries for dessert. In the station wagon on the way back to our ranch, we’d fall blissfully asleep, our hearts filled with happy memories and our bellies pleasantly satiated, except, of course, for my Dad, the driver. 

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Summer boasts a sweet and savory story with harvests of corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches, pears, apples, plums, prunes, eggplants, zucchini, berries, peppers, and other nutritious treats that will grace our dining tables. Although this summer I won’t be hosting any barbecue buffets, I still enjoy picking fresh fruit in my orchard and eating my home-grown vegetables. Pink cherry plums are plump and especially delicious this year as are the deep dark purple prunes. Prunes and plums come from the same genus, prunus, yet they are not identical. Plums are usually round, red or yellow, whereas prunes are oval-shaped and purple, almost blackish with a pit that dislodges easily. Plums and prunes are also related to cherries, peaches, and almonds, all in the family prunus. This season my cherry plums have a distinct flavor of peaches. My peaches aren’t ripe, but they are planted close to the plums. Every year the taste varies. Because cherry plums are the size of cherries and quite crunchy when not over-ripe, I freeze a few and eat them like a popsicle. Sometimes I add the frozen plum to my beverage for an enlivening alternative to ice. I plan on dehydrating some of the prunes or drying them for future use.

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My girlfriend, Nora, is a huge fan of black currants, also known as cassis. Over thirty years ago her dad gave her a cutting from their family currant shrub to plant in her garden. Harvesting the currants brings a sweet memory of the times she spent with her doctor dad. This year’s crop was profuse. She’ll freeze a few cartons of these tasty, complex, and medicinally useful fruit for her family’s winter enjoyment. My black currant flowers were prolific, yet my berries were disappointing. A handy tool for harvesting is a Scandinavian berry picker that eliminates having to pluck single berries one by one. 

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It wouldn’t be summer without the sweet and savory ingredients of fresh-picked corn, cucumbers, and heirloom tomatoes. If you are not growing any, farmer’s markets have bushels ready to buy. I soak the ears of corn with the husk on in a bucket of water for an hour, then, pull back part of the husks, lather with a basil-garlic butter, and steam them on the barbecue. Yummy!

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My mother’s tomato salad has been a family tradition for ages. Slice heirloom tomatoes, red onions, and cucumbers.  Add chopped garlic and red, orange, or green bell peppers. Dress with olive oil, wine vinegar, and balsamic. Season to taste. Voila! A beautiful and scrumptious summer salad. 

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Finally, don’t forget to cut a few stems of “pretties” to add to a vase. Right now, the crocosmia or firecracker plant is in full bloom and makes a fantastic cut flower. Leave several in the garden for the hovering hummingbirds. Don’t forget to refill fountains so that our bird friends can have a refreshing drink or bath.

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Fire season is ramping up and with the recent winds, wildfires could easily ignite. Make sure to cut any tall grass or weeds, trim low hanging branches, clean gutters, and remove debris from around your property.

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GardenComm: Garden Communicators International just notified me that I won the 2020 Media Awards Silver Medal of Achievement for a Journalism Newspaper Article, presented by out of 160 entries for my Lamorinda Weekly article, Scary, scary night. I am honored for this major award and encourage you to have another look at that winning entry because it will help you prepare your landscaping for fire resistance. With this Covid-19 pandemic, the smoke from wildfires has the potential to be extra dangerous or deadly.  Read Scary,scary night at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1318/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Scary-scary-night.html

Read about the award here:

http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/cynthia-brian-receives-silver-medal-of-achievement-in-the-national-2020-gardencomm-media-awards-1296930.htm#

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May you enjoy a sweet and savory summer of social distancing and wearing masks.

Be healthy, hopeful, and positive. Steep thyself in a bowl of summer.  I am!

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Happy gardening. Happy growing.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1411/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Sweet-savory-summer.html

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

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

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Guardians of the Garden Galaxy

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
Guardians of the Garden Galaxy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birds: 

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

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Invite birds to your landscape by offering:

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

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

Invite frogs and toads to your landscape by offering:

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

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

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

Invite lizards to your landscape by offering:

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

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

Invite snakes to your landscape by offering:

Ladybugs:

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

Invite ladybugs to your landscape by offering:

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

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

Invite hoverflies to your landscape by offering:

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

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

Invite spiders to your landscape by offering:

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

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

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Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

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

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

 

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Pivots for the Planet with the Goddess Gardener

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
Pivots for the Planet with the Goddess Gardener

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

Summertime and the living is easy! Or is it? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your planet pivot?

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

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for July

PIVOT for stress relief to your garden sanctuary.

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

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

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

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

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COLLECT the white blossoms of chamomile for a soothing tea.

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

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

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

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

CUT all tall grass and keep lawns and shrubs watered.

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

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

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

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

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

TAKE care of Mother Earth. 

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BE SAFE on Independence Day. 

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

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

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

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

cyntha brian with books.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

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