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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. 

cyntha brian with books SM copy.jpg

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

Ripe rieber grapes.jpeg

“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 in a Pot

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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.

cyntha brian with books SM copy.jpg

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

Posted by presspass on
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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

Posted by presspass on
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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. 

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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.

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  •  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.

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

Happy gardening. Happy growing.

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

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

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

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

The Gratitude Hour

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Empowerment
The Gratitude Hour

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Thanksgiving comes only once a year yet gratitude needs to be a way of living daily. With the utter political chaos, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and other tragedies throughout the year, everyone needs to be grateful to be celebrating the feast of the pilgrims with the Native Americans.

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Cynthia Brian hosts an hour filled with inspirational insights, autumn gardening tips, suggestions for creating a gratitude journal, ideas on planning a perfect Thanksgiving feast, and even guidelines for shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

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Tune in and count your blessings with the Goddess Gardener.

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Be the Star You Are!® charity continues Operation Disaster Relief Program for fires and hurricanes throughout the holidays. Visit and donate to help: http://www.bethestaryouare.org/copy-of-operation-hurricane-disaste

 

Listen at Voice America: https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/103330/the-gratitude-hour

The Holiday Season Begins. SHOP and GIVE while SAVING

1. AmazonSmile donates .5% of purchases http://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882

2. Discounted books at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/shops/be_the_star_you_are_charity

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3. Buy or Sell on EBAY:http://givingworks.ebay.com/charity-auctions/charity/be-the-star-you-are-501-c-3/1504/?favorite=link

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4. Use GoodSearch to search the web & buy from your favorite stores,. Choose Be the Star You Are as your charity to support. You can log in with Facebook, too! http://www.goodsearch.com/goodto-go/be-the-star-you-are

 

5. Shop at over 1300 stores on IGIVE: http://www.iGive.com/BTSYA

6. BTSYA Logo Store: http://btsya.rylees.net

7. Giving Assistant: Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash back at 1800+ popular online stores, then donate a percentage to BTSYA: https://givingassistant.org/np#be-the-star-you-are-inc

8. Designer Clothes to Buy or Sell: https://www.unionandfifth.com/charities/be-the-star-you-are-moraga-ca/shop

If you would like to make a direct donation to our giving fund, please visit our Paypal page! https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/search-cause?charityId=1504&s=3

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Hanging Baskets, House Noise Alerts, DIY Security Systems

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Empowerment
Hanging Baskets, House Noise Alerts, DIY Security Systems

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From the vineyards of Temecula in Southern California to the coastline towns on the Oregon coast, everywhere Cynthia Brian travel has witnessed glorious displays of cascading flowers. Hanging from pergolas, lampposts, balconies, porches, and patios, these bloom filled tubs trump the fern and Spider plant baskets of by-gone days. The prolific blooms of petunias, fuchsias, impatiens, and verbena extend the flowering season with a myriad of bright colors in purple, pink, white, blue, and yellow. Learn how to make a glorious hanging masterpiece.

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Do you know what all the creaks and noises of your house indicate? You don’t have ghosts but you may have structural issues that need attention. Find out which sounds you need to pay attention to ensure your safety.

 

About 20% of homes have security systems that are monitored and professionally installed. But a new type of DIY security system has emerged with no additional fees beyond the cost of the equipment and no professional monitoring. Instead of requiring wires in the walls, DIY systems typically use the existing Wi-Fi network in your home and you can install one yourself!

 

Listen at Voice America Network: https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/102944/hanging-baskets-house-noise-alerts-diy-security-systems

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Be the Star You Are!® is collecting donations to help with Operation Hurricane and Fire Disaster Relief. http://www.bethestaryouare.org/copy-of-operation-hurricane-disaste

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#StartWithaSmile at smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882 and Amazon donates to Be The Star You Are, Inc..

Make a DONATION through PAYPAL GIVING FUND and PAYPAL with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/search-cause?charityId=1504&s=3

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Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash back at 1800+ popular online stores, then donate a percentage to BTSYA: https://givingassistant.org/np#be-the-star-you-are-inc

Catch up with all broadcasts on ITunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/starstyle-be-the-star-you-are!/id669630180?mt=2

Buy books by Cynthia Brian at http://www.starstyleradio.com/store

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For photos, descriptions, links, archives, and more, visit http://www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Get inspired, motivated, and informed with StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!®

Lend us Your Ears!!!

Pre-order Cynthia Brian’s newest book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and receive lots of freebies! http://www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store

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For the Birds!

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Empowerment
For the Birds!

Australian kookaburra bird

“I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs.” Joseph Addison, essayist and poet (1672-1719)
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Are you attracting birds to your backyard? In the past few months, I have received numerous emails and calls from readers literally around the world asking questions about our flying friends. Many people have indicated that the bird population has increased in their landscaping, with some gardeners enjoying first time visitors.
Robins, sparrows, hummingbirds, crows, red tailed hawks, quail, mourning doves, jays, owls, chickadees, wrens, bushtits, mockingbirds, thrashers, robins, yellow warblers, finches, larks, wrens, orioles, blackbirds, tanagers, and many other species are calling Lamorinda home.
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This past week I adopted a one winged cockatiel named Spunky. He and I immediately bonded as he spawned the impetus to write about the benefits of birds.  Although I’m a novice at identifying many of these wonderful creatures, birds have always fascinated and entertained me as I’ve watched quail with their newly hatched covey convening on my lawn, or the robins annually lay eggs in the wreath on my back door. This year the airspace around my home is particularly jammed with crows cawing. I thought I was experiencing a remake of “The Birds” recently when a convention of turkey vultures and crows assembled on my rooftop. I snapped a photo of two before jumping into my car for safety as twenty other buzzards landed.
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How long have birds been on the planet? In 1859 Bavaria fossils were found dating to 140 million years ago that suggested that modern birds evolved from a feathered ancestor, Archaeopteryx, similar to a dinosaur. The size of a crow, Archaeopteryx is the probable ancestor of over 9,000 species of birds.
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The appeal of birds in our backyards is numerous. While watching their antics and enjoying their beautiful plumage as well as their melodious song is intriguing, the grand dividend for gardeners is their free assistance as garden helpers. Birds are constantly turning over leaves, scratching in mulch, or flitting from bush to tree finding their meal of insects we never see. Birds such as flycatchers and swallows decimate flying pests. Seed-eating birds will glean 95% of the weed seed that grows every season.  When we welcome birds to our backyards, we are creating a home landscape that will naturally ward off diseases and pests. Bacteria and spores struggle to survive as our gardens become more organic creating a natural balance between pests and plants.
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Here are ways to maintain flocks flying as your personal aerial garden rescue crew.
1. WATER: A water feature is a magnet for birds, especially in the hot summer months when water is scarce. Add birdbaths, ponds, and fountains for them to bathe, drink, and even forage. Birds can hear the sound of running water from great distances.
2. SHELTER: Birds need to be protected from the whims of Mother Nature. Many birds love brush piles that offer cover. They search for nest building areas and will find your birdhouses, especially those placed in sites that mimic natural surroundings. Some birds, like wrens, will reside nightly in a birdhouse to keep warm and safe. Install roosting boxes and shelves.  If you already have birdhouse, keep them clean. As Miguel de Cervantes wrote “Never look for this year’s birds in last year’s nests.”
3. FOOD: Birdfeeders offer a birds-eye view of their acrobatic displays. Plus, supplementing their meals could be the difference between life and death. Include seed, suet, fruit, nuts, and nectar for the hummingbirds. In the winter, make sure to continue feeding. If you plan to stop feeding your birds, slowly wean them so as not to cut off their food supply.
4. PLANTS: Plant evergreens, vines, shrubs, annuals, and perennials. Birds especially enjoy fruit bearing trees like peach, plum, apricot, and elderberry as well as seed bearing plants like Blackeyed Susan, cosmos, and sunflowers. Hummingbirds are attracted to red, deep-throated flowers with nectar. Include scarlet trumpet vine in your yard. Native species including mustard, wild pea, poppy, shooting star, milkweed, larkspur, lupine, columbine, anemone, bleeding heart, and verbena will draw hummingbirds, butterflies, and seed and insect eating birds to your backyard.
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Take care of your birds and they will take care of your garden. Life is for the birds!

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Garden Tips
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GRILL your fresh-picked eggplant, corn, watermelon, and peppers on the barbecue. Brush with olive oil and garlic, sprinkle with salt and sage or cilantro.
PICK pears and Asian pears. Slice up into salads or eat then fresh off the tree.
DIVIDE bearded iris. When iris rhizomes are crowded, they will not bloom. Use a sharp shovel to slice through the rhizomes, then re-plant in other areas or share with friends. Even small pieces will grow into plants.
SUCCESSION plant arugula, lettuce, carrots, beans, and beets for crops that will continue to feed you through fall.
ENJOY the birds. They are favorite friends of our landscapes providing entertainment, pest control, and nature nurture.

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!
marigolds
• Read more with photos
• Read August Garden Guide

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

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

BFF’s

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Empowerment
BFF’s

Digging Deep for May
By Cynthia Brian

B.F.F.’s (Best Friends Forever)

“Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends
you choose for you will become like them.”
W. Clement Stone

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People have acquaintances, friends, and best friends. We may like or dislike our acquaintances, get along with our friends, and really love our best friends. In fact, when it comes to our best friends, we sometimes feel that we couldn’t live without them. Most of the time, we discover that we are different than our B.F.F.’s, yet complementary. In the world of nature, plants have favorite companions as well as ones that they wish they’d never encounter. By planting our gardens in potagers that include herbs, fruits, and flowers instead of rows, we gain destructive insect –repellent properties, beneficial insect attractors with benefits of higher yields and healthier plants.
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As we start digging in our enriched earth this spring to plant our veggies, it is useful to know what specimens are compatible and which ones repel one another. Like humans, plants encounter plants that they don’t like and when planted near one another, neither thrives. The idea behind companion planting is to mix flowers and herbs in a patch together. Herbs have high concentrations of aromatic oils that protect vulnerable plants from insect attacks and many gardeners find that growing certain plants together actually increases flavor in fruits or vegetables and fragrance in blossoms.
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Some of the helpful herbs are rue, tansy, lavender, chamomile, Artemisia, savory, dill, rosemary, catnip, sage, thyme, and pennyroyal.  Supportive flowers are marigold, nasturtium, and nicotiana. Garlic and chives are happy bedfellows with roses and several other plants, giving off an odor that deters aphids and blackspot. A brew of garlic tea sprayed on plants keeps pests at bay. Chamomile has often been called “the plant’s physician” because it has a reputation for improving the health of surrounding flowers and herbs. Pennyroyal keeps ants away and marigolds deter beetles, white flies, and maybe even rabbits. Nicotiana works on a trap principle where it will attract a predator, which are then caught in the sticky stems and leaves. Nasturtium is repulsive to many bugs, beetles, moths and improves flavors while providing a cascade of edible flowers with long blooming times.
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It is fascinating that while one plant may be beneficial to many plants, it could be harmful to some. Experiment companion planting with some of these popular home-grown vegetables and see if you experience a difference in quality, quantity, flavor, and pest resistance.
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BEANS: Friends of beans include eggplant, beets, potatoes, peas, radish, chard, cucumber, everything in the cabbage family, and marigolds. Enemies of beans are garlic, onions, and chives as they stunt growth.

KALE: Kale is currently the most hailed of the cabbage family. It’s B.F.F.’s include beets, celery, spinach, lettuce, and chard. Plant garlic nearby for improved growth and flavor.

CARROTS: Tomatoes, peppers, peas, radishes, and beans all are happy around carrots. Chives will increase flavor, rosemary and sage will keep the carrot flies from destroying the crop but keep the dill in a galaxy far, far away or you’ll have stunted growth.

CORN: Don’t plant corn next to tomatoes as the same worm munches on both. Instead, corn enjoys companionship from parsley, melon, pumpkin, and beans. Plant marigolds to fend off Japanese beetles.

EGGPLANT: One of my most favorite vegetables to plant, it thrives with peppers and beans. Again, marigolds are friends with eggplant.

LETTUCE: So easy to grow in a home garden, throw some seeds nearby strawberries, radishes and beets. Boost flavor and aphid control with garlic and chives.

POTATOES: Allies are my favorite eggplant, corn, cabbages, and beans. Keep tomatoes and potatoes away from one another or you’ll attract blight. For protection from beetles, plant marigolds.

PUMPKINS: Every kid wants to grow his/her own Halloween Jack O’Lantern. Squash and melons are good buddies with pumpkins. Nasturtium and oregano provide the pest protection.

STRAWBERRIES: Thyme serves as border patrol. Lettuce, bean, onion, and spinach all like to party with strawberries but don’t invite cabbage.

TOMATOES: We already know that potatoes and corn are not to be planted with tomatoes, but you need to know that dill and kohlrabi will stunt growth. Friends include basil, chives, mint, celery, cucumber, onion, parsley, and pepper-all the delicious ingredients of a summer salad!

When you go out into your garden this spring, think about building a community of symbiotic friends. Don’t forget the Iroquois threesome called “The Three Sisters”–corn, squash, and beans, inseparable sisters that grow and thrive together.
It’s great to have a B. F. F. , especially in the garden.

Cynthia-bouganinvilla

“Good friends are like stars….
You don’t always see them,
but you know they are always there.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Reminders

CLEAR debris from your home and garden perimeter. Dried limbs, leaves, and weeds need to be removed. Fire season is upon us.
WATER deeply once or twice a week rather in short spurts. You’ll encourage stronger roots and save on your water bill too.
DOWNLOAD a new FREE App: “GrowIt!”. The app combines user-uploaded photos and GPS utilization with the ability to rate plants to help people find specific plants and inspiration for your locale available at both the Apple App and Google Play stores.
CUT twining stems of clematis for arrangements that will be colorful and full for three weeks or longer.

Happy Gardening, Happy Growing.
Read more HERE

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

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

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