Tag Archives

3 Articles

What’s Bugging You?

Posted by presspass on
0
Empowerment
What’s Bugging You?

bee-blackeyed susan conflowe.jpghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1312/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Whats-bugging-you.html

“…many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth.” Charles Darwin

Twenty-three honeybees, ten lady beetles, five lizards, three frogs, and several spiders.

fountain frog.jpg

Within two hours on a very hot day this past week, the rescue count from the swimming pool kept mounting. I was afraid to leave the water lest more of my garden friends would drown.  It’s summer and the flying insects, creepy crawlies, and slithering creatures are in abundance.  The ones I want to save are the ones that are our garden guardians. 

The Good Guys

Bees

We’ve all heard about the Colony Collapse Disorder affecting honey bees worldwide and the importance of protecting our all bees. Don’t confuse honey bees with carnivorous yellowjackets. Bees, bumble bees, and yellowjackets are all pollinators yet honey bees and bumble bees don’t attack humans unless they are stepped on, slapped, swatted, or threatened. They are gathering pollen and the honey bees are making honey while keeping our fruit, flowers, and vegetables reproducing. 

bees drinking water from a fountain.jpg

Lady Beetles

There are over 450 species of ladybugs in the United States and they are voracious consumers of aphids, caterpillars, lace bugs, mealybugs, scale, whiteflies, and mites. Lady beetles are perhaps the most beloved of all insects and even though you can purchase them for your garden, they will fly away when their food level declines. An adult will eat over 5,000 aphids in her lifetime.

ladybug stages.jpg

Lizards

Don’t be afraid of these garden helpers. Lizards are carnivores, not plant-eaters. You are fortunate if you have lizards in your yard. They eat beetles, ants, wasps, aphids, and grasshoppers. They like to bask in the sun and also shelter under rocks or in the mulch. Predators to lizards include cats, snakes, and birds. 

blue tailed lizard-skink.jpg

Frogs

Both frogs are toads are amphibians living on both land and in water. They need moisture to survive and prey upon snails, slugs, and other insects. However, if they fall into a swimming pool without a way to escape, they will drown. In one summer, a single toad may devour over 10,000 pests.  Some species will eat mosquito larvae. Like our lizard friends, pets, birds, and snakes enjoy them as a meal. Enjoy their choral music at dusk.

frog.jpg

Spiders

Fear of spiders is one of the most common phobias even though most spiders do not bite humans.  The two biting spiders with venom that can be fatal to humans are the black widow and the brown recluse. Spiders are not insects.  Spiders are arthropods as they have eight legs.  As happy hunters, they are excellent garden pest control managers, actually considered to be the most beneficial and efficient insect eradicator in our landscapes.  When you see a spider web, admire its delicate intricacy. Don’t destroy it. Inside your home, spiders are helping eradicate more invasive bugs.  Spiders don’t carry diseases like mosquitoes or ticks. 

spider in web.jpg.jpg

To keep the good guys attracted to our landscapes, eliminate pesticides, insecticides, and chemicals. Companion planting with a diversity of species will provide a variety of stalking and dining options. Offer shelters of mulch, rocks, small branches, and a water source.

The Bad Guys

Mosquitoes

Mosquito bites cause puffy red bumps that can itch for a week. Worse, mosquitoes are vectors for West Nile Virus that they transmit to humans. Empty any standing water around your garden and punch drainage holes in containers. Change birdbaths daily or add a re-circulating pump. If you have a pool or hot tub, keep it effectively chlorinated. Check for leaky faucets. It only takes a few days for larvae to mature. Vector Control is available at no charge to add mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) to your pond water.

Yellowjackets

Although yellowjackets do help with pollination, they are scavengers for meat and sugary food, disrupting picnics, summer outdoor activities, and barbecues. Never squash a yellowjacket. When crushed they emit a chemical that calls to other yellowjackets to attack. They build nests in abandoned burrows, in eaves, and bushes. Because their sting is so potent and painful, if you find a nest, call Vector Control for eradication.

Ticks

Lyme disease is one of the fastest-growing epidemics with over 300,000 diagnoses occurring annually in the United States. Summer is the most likely time to be bitten by a tiny deer tick. Ticks are parasites that feed on blood. They live in brush piles, leaf litter, lawns, tree stumps, ground cover, and stone or brick walls. They even have been found on picnic tables and benches. It’s important to wear tick repellent clothing when outside and after being outdoors, conduct a full body check, take a shower, and put your clothes in a hot dryer for thirty minutes to kill any ticks, then wash your clothes. (I know, it seems weird to dry first, then wash, but the heat of the dryer kills the ticks) Check your pets. Ticks can be hard to find and can linger in your hair, clothing, or pet fur. If you find a tick, don’t twist it or turn it. Use sanitized pointed tweezers to grab the tick and pull it straight out. Wash the bite, apply antiseptic, save the tick for identification, and seek medical attention.

The “bad guys” are on my ‘danger watch out” list. I’ve had three trips already to either urgent care or the emergency room with ticks lodged in my neck that required surgery to remove.  Mosquitoes are my nemesis inflicting gigantic, itching bites with bumps that last for two weeks or more. In the last year, I’ve stumbled upon three yellowjacket nests, suffering multiple stings on my hand and arms with swelling that abated after a week. 

The “good guys” I’ll continue to rescue as they are my garden “watchdogs” along with the numerous birds and hummingbirds that thankfully aren’t nose-diving!

What’s bugging you?

Outside-Inside

Posted by Editor on
0
Empowerment
Outside-Inside

Cyn on boat-red hat copy.jpg

“I went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” John Muir

As summer draws to a close, it’s natural to want to grab the last rays of outdoor living. With temperatures in the three digits, however, unless we are splashing in a pool, many people are staying indoors with the air conditioner turned on high. I tend to march to a different drum, preferring to sweat through the heat to enjoy the hazy, hot days of the season al fresco.

Since harvest time is quickly approaching, I tromped through the hills with Andrea Wood, a former financial broker turned entrepreneur who in 2010 purchased twenty-two acres above Campolindo High School with the dream of planting a vineyard, olive orchard, and building a local winery. A few years ago, she planted 125 olive trees but, alas, in June, a fire blazed to the top of her property burning many of her young trees. As we hiked her hills, we were surprised to witness the resiliency of the olive as new shoots sprouted from the trunks of the scorched trees. Three cheers for Mother Nature’s ability to rebound from devastation. Trees that were untouched are filled with fruit which will ripen and be harvested in November by her family. From the top of the drive, olive trees sway in the wind with views of Mt. Diablo in the background. In May of 2018, she will plant her southern facing hillside with Cabernet Sauvignon in a manner reminiscent of Tuscan vineyards. Plans for her winery are forthcoming. In the meantime, deer and turkeys call her hillsides home. close up of olives.jpg

With this hot and dry weather, there is a high danger of fire. Be proactive and remove flammable objects, debris, brush, and wood from around the perimeter of your dwelling. The National Weather Service has been issuing red flag and heat wave warnings projected to continue through the month of September. Stay hydrated, wear a hat when outdoors, provide plenty of water to your pets, and watch your plants for signs of stress.

Chairs on patio .jpg

It’s been extremely enjoyable watching the colorful sunsets from the comfort of my patio chairs.  Although I maintain my distance, observing the plethora of wildlife that prance and glide through my own landscape is mesmerizing. Deer, turkeys, skunks, raccoons, lizards, snakes, hawks, hummingbirds, and even coyotes and foxes are constant visitors, not all welcome.

skunk on patio.jpg

Striped skunks have been increasingly bold, coming right up to my back door. These nocturnal mammals, although adorably cute from afar, should not be approached as they can spray as a defense mechanism their strong musk several times with an accuracy of twelve feet. In addition, skunks are carriers of rabies. As much as their smell is disgusting, skunks are beneficial for reducing rodents and pesky insects. However, once they take up residence in your yard, garage, shed, or deck, they are problematic. Do your best to secure entry holes in and under buildings and decks. Skunks can burrow as they forage to go from outside to in. If skunks are bothering you, call Vector Control at 925-771-6190 to request a skunk inspection.

 

In case your pet is sprayed, try this homemade neutralizer recipe:

STINK REMOVER RECIPE

1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide

¼ cup baking soda

1 teaspoon dishwashing detergent

Mix together and wash your pet keeping the concoction out of the eyes, nose, and mouth. Rinse with water. If necessary, wash again. Do not bottle or store this solution as a chemical reaction could cause an explosion.

blue tailed lizard.jpg

Blue tailed lizards, also known as skinks, have provided hours of entertainment as the sprint from rock to rock. Some veterinarians state that skinks may be poisonous to pets, specifically cats, although there are no concrete published studies. Having bright coloring on the skin often indicates that an animal is venomous or unpalatable but in the case of the blue tailed skink this quality is a useful decoy inviting birds to attack the tail and not its vital organs. Lizard tails regenerate. Lizards are excellent garden protectors eating many of the bothersome insects that plaque our landscapes. Welcome them.

Grapes are ripening on the vine as the sun kisses the clusters. Bunches resemble still life paintings with their colors of blue, purple, absinthe, and rose. (Next month be on the look out for my article on our Lamorinda grape harvest!) Hydrangeas that were originally a deep vermillion are showing florets of lime green mottled with pink. Green is the most prevalent color in nature.  It’s enlightening to take time to truly immerse your senses in the multitude of shades and hues before the leaves turn amber, gold, crimson, and red.

grapes ripening in Sept..jpg

When the weather allows, get outside to enjoy the call of the wild. Bring the breath of the earth into our souls by soaking in nature outside. Out is in. Inhale deeply.

hydranges turning green.jpg

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide Tips for September

FEED Monarchs with enriching nectar for both the caterpillars and butterflies by planting Swamp Milkweed, Pink Common Milkweed, Asters, and Liatris.

EAT ugly and imperfect fruits and vegetables. About one-third of all food produced worldwide, worth around $1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems. Deformed produce tastes the same and is as nutritionally viable as perfect pieces. For bruised fruit or vegetables, cut off the bad bits, make a sauce, or a soup.

WATER deeply when your garden is thirsty in the early morning or evening. Do not water during the heat of the day or you’ll be wasting H20 and may burn your plants.

TAKE 20% off new season vegetable seeds from Renee’s Garden. Enter code 18INTRO at checkout. Offer ends 9/15/17. Receive 50% off 2017 seeds.  www.reneesgarden.com

sweetpea.jpg

USE vegetable stems and trimmings for sauces, sautés, and soups. Broccoli stalks can be shaved for a salad, potato peels baked for chips, carrot and cilantro tops made into a pesto. Get creative and don’t waste any part of an edible vegetable. Note, do not eat the leaves of rhubarb as they are toxic.

AVOID aches and pains while gardening by stretching before and after your work.

CHOOSE plants for color, shape, size, visual texture, and foliage when planning your garden.

VISIT the Pear and Wine Festival on September 23 at the Moraga Commons. Make sure to stop by the Be the Star You Are!® booth for fun activities for the kids. Thanks to Michael VerBrugge Construction, The Lamorinda Weekly, and MB Jessee painting for making the booth possible. Consider making a donation to Operation Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief to help the displaced in Texas. http://www.bethestaryouare.org/events

HARVEY-Car-FLOODhouston-floods.jpg

DIVIDE crowded perennials once they have finished blooming. This includes Naked Ladies.

 

FERTILIZE your acid loving plants including roses, rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, fuchsias, ferns, and begonias.

PICK Asian pears and apples that are ripe.

apples.jpg

The best way to get in contact with me is via email at Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com. As much as I appreciate your questions and concerns, I am unable to respond to the numerous phone calls. Thanks for understanding!

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Read More: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1114/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-Outside-in.html

Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, 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 Are1® 501 c3.

Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show and order her books at www.StarStyleRadio.com

Available for hire for any project.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Growing_Cover_Final copy.jpg

Living, Growing, Totally Spooky

Posted by Editor on
0
Empowerment
Living, Growing, Totally Spooky

pirate cynthia speaking - 2

By Cynthia Brian

“To the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” William Blake

The season of screams and scares is officially here! Halloween is right around the corner, and it’s time to embrace your inner ghoul. With only a few days left until a haunted eve, a walk in the park or around your personal garden will spark your spooktacular spirit as you encounter everyday species that ignite eerie imaginings, yet are friendly visitors. It’s time to put out our mystical welcome mat.
snake plant
Children have feared spiders since the days of learning the nursery rhyme “Little Miss Muffet”. We may not want them living in our homes, but in the garden spiders are considered beneficial bugs. There are generally two types of spiders-the weavers and the hunters. The big, beautiful, yet scary looking yellow and black argiope spider (Golden orb weaver) spins a web that catches garden predators twice her size while the hunters, the wolf spider and the crab spider, ambush their prey. Even their names evoke Halloween myths. These helpful arthropods (meaning eight legs) are considered more efficient eaters than our feathered friends eradicating aphids, spider mites, leafhoppers, armyworms, caterpillars, beetles, thrips, and other nuisances. Don’t squish the spiders nor destroy their webs because spiders are positive pest patrollers of our secret oasis.
euchalyptus bark
Allium sativum is renowned for repelling vampires. But the next time you witness darting dive-bombers of the dark, hide the garlic to usher in the bats. Contrary to common thought, these North American “vampires” do not attack people. Mosquitoes bite people and bats eat more than 600 mosquitoes per hour. Their droppings are rich in nitrogen and they guard gardens from invasive insects. If you have a pool, you’ll witness them skimming the water at twilight.

Many people are frightened of snakes, but finding a snake in the grass is a good omen. Most snakes are not poisonous and the most common snakes we find in our gardens are the garter or King snake. Rattlesnakes are venomous and like all pit vipers have thick triangular heads, easily distinguishable from their docile, non-poisonous relatives. Snakes eat mice, rats, and other rodents as well as snails and slugs.
king snake-veg garden.jpg
Do you have lizards in your landscape? Congratulations, you are gardening organically. A healthy garden boasts plenty of these small, fast moving reptiles. Without chewing, lizards swallow moths, grubs, flies, grasshoppers, beetles, and crickets whole. When you see a lizard with a missing tale, it’s not an ingredient in a witches’ brew, but probably digesting in the belly of a bird. Tales do grow back. Lizards are excellent neighbors. Encourage them to stay.

To attract any of these beneficial creepy crawlies or flying friends, make sure to offer hiding places, water, and eliminate all pesticides, herbicides, and non-organic fertilizers. Allow them admittance to your hunting grounds as they pursue, chase, and stalk plant destroyers.
HAlloween decor - 3
How else can we be scared in our own backyards this Halloween?

⎫ Trees can be frightening. Get up close to check out the bark of a eucalypts tree or recline under a pepper tree swaying in the wind. Let your imagination run wild. Do you see skeletons, witches, ghosts, or faces of the walking dead?
⎫ Investigate the babies of a spider plant, or be spooked by a hanging snake plant.
⎫ Admire the beautiful blooms and intoxicating fragrance of the sweetly named Angel Trumpet but don’t be tempted to taste it.  As a member of the Nightshade family, it is highly toxic, even deadly. Wear gloves!
⎫ Why is the fox by the fountain in the backyard? Or is the fox a shape shifter?
⎫ Are the coyotes howling at the moon or an evil eye wandering in the darkness?
⎫ Do you hear the hooting of the owls and the cawing of the crows? They too are hunting…and not for humans.

And, finally, a gardener’s Halloween quiz. (Answers at the bottom)
a. What is a vampires’ favorite flower?
b. What is a werewolf’s favorite legume?
pumpkins at night
Carve your pumpkins, light the Jack O’Lanterns, weave your webs, and dress up the skeletons you’ve been hiding in the closet. Nature provides the imagination for your supernatural trick or treat decor.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN to all the witches, warlords, pirates, princesses, paupers, pumpkins, and pilgrims!

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Reminder

I’m sounding like a broken record, but remember to chill your bulbs for a minimum of six to ten weeks before planting. Keep them in the dark at 38-45 degrees Fahrenheit before putting in the ground as we live in a warm zone and many bulbs, including tulips native to colder Holland, will not thrive. Make sure that no fruits or vegetables are in the refrigerator, as they will emit harmful ethylene gas. In November and December when ready to plant, make sure the soil has been properly prepared before removing your bulbs from refrigeration. Plant promptly.
angel trumpet vine

Quiz answers
A: Bleeding Hearts
B. Human Beans

Read More

Happy Gardening, Happy Growing!
©2015
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.

spider in web.jpg

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

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Twitter