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Garden of Eating

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
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Empowerment
Garden of Eating

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By Cynthia Brian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1614/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Garden-of-eating.html

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Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com. Her newest children’s picture book series, Stella Bella’s Barnyard Adventures, will be available soon. Buy copies of her books, www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings. Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian in May

Posted by rstapholz on
0
Empowerment
Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian in May

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By Cynthia Brian 

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to live on this beautiful and astonishing Planet Earth. In the morning, I woke up with a sense of gratitude.” –Earl Nightingale

In California, May reigns as one of the most colorful months of the year. Mother Nature has fully awakened from lingering winter doldrums to burst into bloom. The radiant combination of lush green lawns against cheerful vignettes of glowing, flowing flowers, trees, and shrubs is mesmerizing. Beauty, fragrance, and food beckon from every direction.

With appreciation, I awake each morning and fall asleep each night to the lullabies from a multitude of songbirds. Pollinators are busy buzzing from nectar plants to other food sources signaling a healthy garden environment. The succession of blossoms changes daily from spring bulbs to robust roses; bright bearded iris to sprouted seeds scattered last fall. 

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May is the optimum time to plant annuals, vegetables, and herbs together in a potager garden. By combining a medley of edibles and florals, biological pest control is ignited providing plants to protect one another and be a shelter for beneficial insects. Nasturtium, calendula, and marigolds are the colorful workhorses attracting hungry caterpillars and blackflies away from brassicas and beans. Garlic planted between roses, lettuce, potatoes, or even fruit trees will keep the aphids, Japanese beetles, and ermine moths at bay. Parsley attracts pollinators and protectors of tomatoes. Mint deters ants and aphids but make sure to plant in a pot as mint can overtake an entire garden. Before planting, weed thoroughly, enrich the soil with compost or add new soil, and rotate crops to maintain vigor while producing greater yields.

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Jerusalem star, also known as go-to-bed early, vegetable oyster, or salsify is considered an invasive weed in some areas, but this dandelion-related plant is a forgotten beloved Victorian-era edible that tastes like an oyster and grows like a carrot. Its yellow-flowering relative is named goats beard. The taproot grows to twelve inches into the ground. Harvest with care to not break the root. In the kitchen, salsify is versatile and delicious in soups, stews, bisques, casseroles, or grated like beets in a salad for a fresh seafood/artichoke flavor. The entire plant has been used medicinally. 

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Be cautious of poisonous plants invading your vegetable garden. Poison hemlock is everywhere and is deadly if ingested. The pretty plant displays lacy and fernlike leaves with very delicate white flowers. A member of the carrot family, it is often mistaken for Queen Anne’s lace, a less- lethal specimen. The best way to identify poison hemlock is to look at the stems which have red or purple spots or streaks. Its most poisonous alkaloid is coniine which causes complete respiratory collapse. Only mechanical or artificial ventilation can save someone who has ingested poison hemlock. Wear gloves and a mask to dig out the root. Don’t weed whack it or burn it as small particles could be inhaled. Socrates drank hemlock tea as his preferred method of dying. 

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The yellow blooms of the elderberry tree signal spring’s arrival, and people need to be aware of the toxicity of this beautiful tree. The stems, seeds, leaves, bark, and roots are all poisonous to humans containing a cyanide-inducing glycoside. The blue-black berries are safe to eat only after boiling for at least twenty minutes. Elderberry jam and wine are popular and include major health benefits.

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Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, a spectacularly beautiful biennial plant, is extremely attractive to children and every part of it is lethal to humans. Compounds from this plant are used in heart medicines. Since they grow tall, five to seven feet tall, plant them at the back of a flower garden and keep them out of your kitchen garden.

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Besides getting my potager and vegetable garden installed, my latest fun spring project has been creating a living wall garden by using a decorative frame from Nature Hills Nursery that features a built-in watering tray and a reservoir for drainage. This instant wall planter is a step up from the DYI picture frame with chicken wire-filled moss that I designed several years ago. I added potting soil to the portrait garden, arranged a variety of succulents, attached a found turkey feather, watered, and hung it on the exterior of my house in the sunshine as a growing art piece. 

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Every day I am immersed in gratitude for the wonders of Mother Earth as I watch the procession and succession of nature’s bounty. Walk gently through your garden to enjoy the miraculous magic of May. 

The Goddess Gardener’s Gardening Guide for May

ü  FERTILIZE: If you haven’t already, fertilize trees, shrubs, rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, lawns, and ground covers while the days are warm, and the evenings are cool. 

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ü  FEED indoor plants

ü  BAIT for snails and slugs that will damage new seedlings with organic Sluggo. The active ingredient is iron phosphate. Corry’s Slug and Snail Killer contains 5% sodium ferric Exceda that is safe for pets and people and can be used on edibles. After eating the bait, these gastropods slink to their hiding places to die. Because both male and female mollusks lay eggs, one slug or snail can contribute to thousands of these pests terrorizing crops if not eradicated. 

ü  SPRAY roses, crape myrtle trees, and ground cover susceptible to aphids and fungal diseases.

ü  DEADHEAD roses as the petals fade to encourage continuous blooming.

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ü  PLANT annuals and perennials including zinnia, salvia, calibrachoa.

ü  ELIMINATE standing water from gutters, old tires, or saucers to reduce the breeding of mosquitoes.

ü  TRANSPLANT small trees, including fruit trees such as nectarine or avocado to the desired area. 

ü  MOW tall wild grass to three inches or less as a fire defensible space.

ü  COMBINE edibles and flowers in a kitchen garden with a variety of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beets, squash, garlic, parsley, borage, nasturtium, calendula, roses, and marigolds.

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Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1606/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Spring-succession.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.

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

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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Pivots for the Planet with the Goddess Gardener

Posted by presspass on
0
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. 

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Plant a Victory Garden 3.0

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
Plant a Victory Garden 3.0

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https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1408/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Victory-Gardens-30.html

Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian 

Victory Gardens 3.0

By Cynthia Brian 

“In every adversity there lies the seed of an equivalent advantage. In

every defeat is a lesson showing you how to win the victory next time.” Robert Collier, Writer and Publisher

In March 2017, a month before the United States entered World War I, Americans across our lands were asked to plant produce to help feed the Allies fighting in Europe. It wasn’t only farmers who were solicited to start planting. President Woodrow Wilson declared that “food will win the war,” as he encouraged city folks to plant in vacant lots, fields, parks, and pots. So began the “war garden” to sow seeds of victory. 

During World War II, food shortages prevailed once again. Victory Gardens sprouted throughout America, Europe, Canada, and Australia supplying over thirty-three percent of the necessary food for our country. Eleanor Roosevelt even dug up part of the White House lawn to plant a vegetable garden. Turnips, tomatoes, lettuce, peas, beets, beans, cabbages, carrots, squash, onions, potatoes, and many other vegetables were easy to grow and preserve by canning for the winter months. By 1943 there were approximately eighteen million Victory gardens throughout the United States, twelve million of them in cities, and six million in rural areas. 

Today we face major adversities from different kinds of conflicts. The Covid-19 pandemic combined with racial civil unrest throughout our cities, our country, and our world have the potential to increase food scarcity and shortages. We have already witnessed throngs of people emptying grocery store shelves of staples and canned goods. It is easier than ever to grow our own food no matter what our space limitations. If you have a yard, you can choose a small area to plant the vegetables, fruits, and herbs that you love. If you only have a porch or balcony, use pots to grow tomatoes, lettuces, basil, parsley, and peppers. According to the U.S.D.A., 15% of the world’s food supply is now grown in cities.

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Ready to get started?

FIRST

Only five things are needed to grow your Victory Garden 3.0: 

  1. 1. A patch of land, raised bed, or pots that are two gallons or larger
  2. 2. Bags of high-quality garden soil
  3. 3. Healthy plants
  4. 4. Mulch
  5. 5. Water

SECOND

  1. 1. Find an area that will get at least six hours of sunlight per day.
  2. 2. If you are working a patch or raised bed, pull out any weeds and prepare the ground by adding new garden soil. If using pots, wash the pots, make certain there is a drainage hole at the bottom, add a few pebbles, or cracked pottery to help with drainage and fill the pots with your purchased soil. Vegetables need organic matter including compost or manure to thrive because the organic matter decomposes the essential nutrients of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium to enrich the roots. 
  3. 3. Buy healthy plants from your local nursery or garden center. Check for vibrant green leaves. Look for any insect or snail infestation. Plant according to instructions.
  4. 4. Top with peat moss or other mulch. Peat moss adds aeration, retains moisture, and reduce the leaching of the nutrients. It is a great mulch and can also increase the efficiency in a compost pile.
  5. 5. Water thoroughly and maintain moisture while growing.
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Before planting your Victory Garden 3.0, research the maturity date for the crops you wish to grow as harvest dates vary greatly. If you plant from seeds, you’ll have lettuce and radishes within two weeks. If you are planting zucchini or corn, the time frame is longer, perhaps 100 days. Don’t overlook a nutritious staple that is super easy to grow…potatoes.  Spuds are ready for eating in 70-100 days. Try cutting egg-sized pieces of a potato with two or three eyes. Plant in a two to five-gallon pot, bucket, or in a raised bed. Mound the dirt into little hills as the spuds grow on stems. Pile mulch or straw on top as the tubers grow to keep the stems in total darkness. Don’t eat green potatoes as they can be poisonous. Citrus, apples, and peaches can be planted in large containers.

We are living through a frightening, complicated international crisis. If we have learned any lesson from history, it is that we can win the victory when we work together with empathy, caring, and intelligence. Growing even a portion of our own food will help us be healthier while creating a more sustainable lifestyle. We’ll get exercise, sunshine, fresh air, and have fun growing with our families. Plus, butterflies, bees, and birds will pollinate and entertain as our garden reduces stress and offers soul fulfillment. Don’t forget to plant some “pretties” like Asiatic lilies, gazanias, trumpet vine, and hydrangeas. Annual and perennial flowers add fragrance, structure, and beauty to our lives. 

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Stay safe. Stay healthy.  Plant your Victory Garden 3.0 today!

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for June

PLANT tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, eggplants, arugula, cucumbers, beans, corn, and pumpkins. Herbs to plant now for summer harvesting are basil, parsley, and cilantro. 

STAKE or provide a wire cage to support tomatoes so the fruit won’t touch the soil and rot.

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APPLY snail bait to newly planted seedlings and wherever you witness slugs or snails.

FERTILIZE trees, shrubs, and ground covers before the summer heat.

SPRAY crape myrtles to prevent powdery mildew with a natural fungicide such as neem oil extract, jojoba oil, or potassium bicarbonate.

CHECK irrigation systems and readjust sprinkler heads as needed.

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TACKLE aphids with ladybugs or for a small infestation, spray with a mixture of water and dish detergent. 

CUT dead canes of hydrangeas to the ground (anything without a green bud on it). Don’t prune hydrangeas in spring or fall or the flowering buds will be cut off. 

BUY a shorter variety or move a too tall hydrangea as they cannot be pruned to reduce height. Hydrangeas always replace their height. If a hydrangea is drooping on a hot day, it doesn’t need water. It will rebound as the evening cools. Hydrangeas grow great in containers. 

ADD Sulphur or aluminum sulfate to acidic soil to get blue hydrangeas. Rusty nails or copper do not work.

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TREAT both upper and lower leaves of roses with organic Sulphur for fungus problems including black spot, rust, and powdery mildew.

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PRUNE azaleas immediately after spring flowering.

DEEP SOAK trees with a soaker wand when you see the leaves wilting. 

PULL out the dried fronds of spring bulbs. If a bulb comes out with the leaves, cut off the dried foliage and either replant the bulb in a new place immediately or put in a dark, cool space to replant in the fall. 

CELEBRATE your gardening dad on Father’s Day by buying a copy of Growing with the Goddess Gardener or Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul at https://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store. 

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CARE for your lawn by raking leaves, twigs, and dead grass. Pull the weeds including dandelions, chickweed, bittercress, and henbit. Aerate and leave the plugs on the grass. Cover bare patches by over-seeding with Pearl’s Premium grass seed. Visit www.Pearlspremium.com. Water early in the morning and fertilize once more before the heat of summer. When mowing, never cut off more than 1/3 and leave grass clippings on the lawn at least every two times you mow.

HARVEST cherries, lemons, tangelos, loquats, and tangerines.

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FEED your family and friends in body, mind, and spirit by planting a Victory Garden 3.0

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Father’s Day.

 

Read more:

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1408/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Victory-Gardens-30.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, 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 is available for virtual writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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RX for Health

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Empowerment
RX for Health

“Hope and faith flower from the cheerful seeds of the old year to the sprouting garden of the New Year’s dawn.”
~Terri Guillemets

For the past few weeks it seems that everyone I encounter has been sick with a cold or flu or has been nursing a loved one who is suffering from such malaise. The drastic change in weather conditions plus the excitement and multiple engagements of the holiday season have exacerbated this season of illnesses. To help aid in the symptoms that are bothering you, the closest pharmacy may be your garden.

Food has always been the best medicine. What we eat and how we eat it determines our vitality and our health. Culinary herbs and spices such as basil, mustard, oregano, and thyme enjoy both flavor enhancing and digestive benefits. Using echinacea or goldenseal, both bitter herbs, can be helpful in clearing congestion and boosting your immune system. Chamomile or passionflower tea helps you relax and unwind, quieting your body and your mind.

A natural remedy to soothe a sore throat and still a cough that I have been using for decades in my work as an actor is a hot tea brewed with a combination of grated ginger, torn mint leaves, the juice, rind, and leaves of a Meyer lemon mixed with honey. (If you are fortunate to be a beekeeper as our Lamorinda Weekly publishers are, the most valuable honey in the world is derived from the bees in your garden!) This herbal tea tastes delicious and really helps with clearing my sinuses. For an extra boost of vitamin C, add the juice and rind of a naval orange to the concoction. Pair almost any herb with ginger and lemon for an extra healing enhancer. If you have an upset stomach, motion sickness, or feel nauseous, chewing on a slice of ginger root relieves the symptoms rapidly.

Herbal medicine, herbalism, or phytotherapy has been utilized for centuries around the globe in many cultures for the prevention and treatment of illness. Contained in many plants are powerful chemicals that can assist with natural healing. However, before ingesting or using any plant as a medication, make sure you are certain of its identity and be aware that allergic reactions can occur. If in doubt, leave it out. Always consult your physician for any ailments that worsen. Pregnant and breast feeding women need to err on the side of caution by always discussing any new remedies or herbal concoctions with their doctor before using,

Here are a few of the botanical medicinal plants that many people already grow in their gardens that I have safely used as a natural prescription for illness.

Basil: Besides being extraordinarily flavorful in just about everything, adding basil leaves or flowers to your salads, sauces, and stews aids digestion, alleviates anxiety, and reduces gas.
As an annual herb, basil grows vigorously in the warm weather and is slowly dying back at this time of the year. Harvest the leaves now to freeze or dry.

Bee Balm is a bergamot with edible flowers. The leaves are spicy and the shoots can be made into a pesto just like mint or basil. Dry the bergamot leaves and flowers to use in a steam bath to loosen phlegm and coughing. Make an herbal compress of the plant to treat bacterial or fungal infections. Bee balm spreads vigorously by runners just like mint. It is a pollinator attractor and can be harvested all year long.

Calendula has been used for centuries to heal burns, wounds, and rashes. It can be used topically or ingested. The edible flowers are filled with antioxidants and I love adding them to salads and frittatas. Dried flowers can be added to stews and soups to enhance your immune system. Calendula spreads by seeds and in my garden, it flourishes year around because as a plant dies I scatter the seeds elsewhere and within a short time new plants emerge that flower quickly.

Lemongrass is not a very pretty plant but it is popular in Asian dishes and is used throughout the world as a tea to soothe many health issues including headaches, indigestion, anxiety, coughs, colds, flu, and insomnia. For motion sickness or flu, make a tea of lemon juice, catnip or mint, ginger, and basil. Like many herbal teas, lemongrass is best combined with ginger for swifter results.

Passionflower is used in teas to alleviate pain such as headaches, earaches, or cramps. It also promotes better sleep. In winter this vibrant vine dies back but will return in the spring, preferring a full sunshine location. It is a short-lived perennial, producing flowers for a few years before dying. The Cherokee Native Americans were known to use passionflowers to decrease inflammation from thorn wounds, although I haven’t used passionflower for this purpose…yet.

Mint is a beautiful and functional botanical herb. Mint leaves will root in a glass of water so when you find a mint that delights you, take a snip and start growing your mint garden. All mints are invasive and will take over your landscape. It’s best to keep mint in a container. Spearmint, peppermint, pineapple mint, and catnip all make excellent teas that will help ease the effects of the common cold, comfort a queasy stomach, and promote sounder sleep. As a culinary herb, it is stimulating chopped into a salad, soup, or made into a jelly.

May you benefit with wellness by visiting your garden pharmacy, Wishing you a very healthy and happy 2018.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing,

Cynthia Brian

Not To Be Missed:
⎫ Tune in to my live radio broadcast on Wednesday, January 24 from 4-5pm PT when I’ll be interviewing renowned rosarian, Michael Marriott of David Austin Roses in England. He’ll give us the tips we need to prune as well as how to plant bare root heirlooms. http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2206/be-the-star-you-are

Read more, see photos: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1123/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-Garden-pharmacy.html

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, 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.
Her new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, is available at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store.
Available for hire.
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com

Light the Night

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Empowerment
Light the Night

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“Moon and stars are giving light.

With gifts of nature’s giving, we complete the cycle of living.

Let us give from our mind, hands, and heart to the world.” Chitrabhanu

It was a holiday tradition for our family of seven to pile into our old station wagon to head to the hills of San Francisco to experience the beauty of the decorated homes in Pacific Heights. We called our favorite street, Teddy Bear Lane, and, since we were so young we didn’t know it’s real name. (And I still don’t know where it was!) It was spectacular with a full block of beautiful Victorians lit up with teddy bears flanked by  flickering candles in every window. Another street boasted sparkling reindeer, glistening snowmen, serene nativity scenes, and some even showcased Santa and his sleigh on the steep rooftops. Gardens twinkled with illumination making the night merry and bright.

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After all the “oohing and ahhing”, we’d head to Fisherman’s Wharf to pick up fresh crabs for our Christmas Eve meal, then wander down to Ghiradelli for a cup of hot cocoa.  The coins we had been saving all year to help children enjoy a festive celebration were deposited into the bucket of the man ringing the bell from the Salvation Army. We kids dreamt of sugarplums, teddy bears, star-studded skies, and busy elves on the two-hour drive back to the ranch as we anxiously anticipated the excitement of the season.  It was a deeply satisfying annual excursion, the kind that etches itself into one’s memory forever.

Since we lived in the middle of nowhere, down a mile long lane with no street lamps to light the night, our fear was that Santa wouldn’t be able to find our farmhouse, much less our chimney. To ease our worries, our parents lit two acres of our fields, orchards, and gardens, creating a virtual runway as a navigational guide to steer Rudolph to the right place. We pulled carrots from the vegetable garden to nourish the tired reindeer.  Naturally we baked gingerbread cookies as a treat for Jolly St Nick accompanied by a big glass of milk and a note of gratitude for his generosity. We hoped his list had checked us off as “nice” instead of “naughty”.

This December as I drive around local neighborhoods, I am reliving the joyfulness of my youth without having to drive to Teddy Bear Lane in San Francisco. Residents who celebrate Christmas adorn their houses, trees, shrubs, and gardens with garlands, wreaths, ornaments, and twinkling lights of every color.  The décor is rich, festive, and fun.  It takes time and patience to unravel a string of lights, especially if they are from a previous year, but the rewards are worth the trouble.

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Aside from raking leaves, mulching, planting cover crops, and transplanting cuttings, there isn’t too much work to do in a December garden. Across the country, most landscapes are setting in for their winter slumber. With less chores to accomplish, I champion a different decorating challenge every day with the final goal of having the crape myrtle trees on my driveway shimmer under the glinting moonlight.  I’ll be snipping fresh redwood, cypress, and pine boughs for their fresh forest scent to add to doors and windows adorned with holly and pistache berries. Poinsettias are already on the porch and vases of blooming narcissci perfume the bathrooms.  Amaryllis is budding in anticipation of a December 25th appearance.

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This is an enchanted time of year. Take time to savor the seconds with family and friends as you watch the lights of the nights.  Offer your heart.  Bequeth your soul. Gift suggestions that cost you nothing include forgiving someone who has inured you, being a role model to young people, providing kindness to all, while respecting and loving yourself.

As Norman Vincent Peale wrote, “Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”  May the magic of this blessed time shine a light on you and your loved ones. Merry Christmas from my home to yours.

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Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Garden Guide

CLEAN the dead leaves from bearded iris to prevent rot and insect hideouts.

CUT boughs of evergreens to mold into wreaths and garlands.

PLANT a cover crop to increase nitrogen and protect again winter erosion. Fava beans, clover, vetch, and mustard are excellent choices. To find seeds visit www.rareseeds.com or www.sowtrueseed.com.

GIVE the gift of my new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, twelve months of inspiration and gardening tips to sustain your inner gardener with a full year of kindness and happiness in nature. Buy directly from www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store and 25% is a donation to Be the Star You Are!® charity PLUS you’ll receive extra goodies and an autographed copy.

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FEED the birds. Baby, it’s cold outside and our birds need food and shelter. Make sure to clean your birdhouses and feeders regularly.

WATCH for rats and mice. As the cold weather begins, vermin seek a warm bed and easy to find food.

CHECK plants that you’ve brought inside for the winter for any insect infestation.

WATER your Christmas trees. If you purchased a cut tree, make sure it has plenty of water throughout the month as indoor heat will quickly dry out any conifer.

COVER frost tender plants with burlap, sheets, newspaper, or straw. Be on the alert for swift temperature swings.

REMOVE the longer canes from wisteria.

PRUNE crape myrtles and fruit trees once all the leaves have dropped.

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RAKE leaves as they fall and add to compost pile. Allow ½ inch to an inch of leaves to remain on the soil.  Compost the rest.

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PERUSE garden catalogues and read books about landscaping as you curl up with s cup of hot chocolate or licorice cinnamon tea.

PREVENT snails and slugs from devouring your plants by adding copper strips or bowls of stale beer to the perimeter of your garden.

PICK UP guavas that fall and use for jams or juices.

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ADD a bow of freshly picked Meyer lemons to your countertop as a useful culinary display.

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FILL your Christmas tree or Hannukah bush with every family ornament that you’ve been saving for years! Nostalgia reigns supreme.

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BUY a small living cypress tree to use as an inexpensive Christmas tree in lieu of a cut fir. Some stores have been selling three-four feet specimens for less than $8.00.

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VISIT an Asian market to buy the delicious exotic Dragon fruit.

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SELECT colorful and easy to grow crotons or ginger plants to add a fantasy island fling to your festivities.

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WATCH for snow plants to sprout in the Sierras.

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MAKE a tax-deductible donation to help with hurricanes & California fires disaster relief at www.BetheStarYouAre.org.  Every dollar counts. Be the Star You Are!® cares.

It is the season of giving and sharing. Have yourselves a very Merry Christmas.

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1121/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-Light-the-night.html

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Cynthia Brian

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Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, 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.

My new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, is available at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store

Available for hire.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Garden Holly Jolly

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Empowerment
Garden Holly Jolly

“As the rain falls equally on the just and the unjust, do not burden your heart with judgments but rain your kindness equally on all.” Gautama Buddha

The month of December ushers in a time of joyfulness and giving with gardeners being the most generous givers of all! Harvests of persimmons, walnuts, and pomegranates make for baskets of nutritious and delicious gifts. Root cuttings, potted plants, and arrangements made from bark, branches, and pinecones are natural reminders of the wonders of a pre-winter season. The final flush of rose blooms mixed with orchids create a lush yet simple table display when a few glittering candles are added. With the colder weather, trees are ablaze with their final cloak of autumn hues as an array of colorful leaves litters the ground.
Chrysanthemums are thick with blossoms adding a brightness and lightness to the darkening sky.

We encourage the rain and the intermittent sunshine.

Soon our landscapes will boast sparkling lights and festive decorations to welcome family and friends to enjoy holiday treats. Children of all ages are excited for the surprises that await them for Hanukkah and Christmas.

I’m excited to announce that my much anticipated garden book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, Book I in the Garden Shorts series is now available in both color and black and white. Buy directly from www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store for the best price and autographed copies. 25% of your purchase is a donation to Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 charity (www.BetheStarYouAre.org). With every order placed directly at our store, you’ll receive seeds and extra goodies. This book is a great gift for all the gardeners and nature lovers on your holiday list.

Have a holly jolly December and remember to give yourself the gift of rest and relaxation as there are only minimal garden gardening tasks while Nature takes her annual nap.

Cynthia Brian’s December Gardening Guide

DISCOVER a living conifer at your favorite nursery that can remain in a container for a few years of Christmas decorating.

RAKE fallen leaves to add to the compost pile. Leave a layer of leaves on the ground, however, too many leaves remaining in the garden encourage disease and block the sunshine.

APPLY dormant spray to deciduous fruit trees and roses to smother insects and eggs.

REMOVE dead or dying branches from trees, bushes, and shrubs.

APPLY a layer of mulch (about three inches) to your landscape to keep the heat in and prevent soil erosion.

CONTROL peach blight and peach curl by spraying trees on a windless day with sulfur mixed with dormant oil. Two other applications will be necessary in January and February.

WRAP frost tender plants such as bougainvillea, banana, and bird of paradise in burlap to prevent damage.

GATHER an array of fresh vegetables as you design your holiday menus.

GIVE the gift of my new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, twelve months of inspiration and gardening tips to sustain your inner gardener with a full year of kindness and happiness in nature. Buy directly from www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store and 25% is a donation to Be the Star You Are!® charity PLUS you’ll receive extra goodies and an autographed copy.

CONTINUE planting spring blooming bulbs through the end of January. You’ll enjoy a long lasting parade of flowers throughout the spring.

HANG a spray of magnolia leaves sprayed gold and silver on your front door or mailbox.

ADD merry pink berries to garlands of redwood branches to decorate a mantel or staircase.

FILL a bowl with grapes for nibbling.

SLICE orange Fuyu persimmons or seeds of bright red pomegranates into a salad for a delicious and nutritious treat drizzled with olive oil and homemade vinaigrette.

TIE a gossamer ribbon around a cyclamen, geranium, orchid, or rose to give as a festive hostess gift.

USE the bark of eucalyptus or a lichen covered branch in your holiday décor.

RAIN kindness and gentleness on everyone you encounter.

VISIT with Santa at 5A Rent-A-Space on Saturday, December 2nd from 11-4pm. Be the Star You Are!® volunteers will be present to help kids write letters to Santa. Free event with refreshments and a photo with Santa. 455 Moraga Rd. #F, Moraga. www.bethestaryouare.org/events

REST, relax, and enjoy this season of holly jolly!

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

READ MORE AT: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1120/Cynthia-Brians-Gardening-Guide-for-December-A-holly-jolly-garden.html

Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, 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. Please make a donation to help with hurricane & fire disaster relief at www.BetheStarYouAre.org.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show and order her books at www.StarStyleRadio.com.
My new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, is available at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store.
Available for hire for any gardening project.
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com

Where there is smoke…

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Empowerment
Where there is smoke…

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By Cynthia Brian

“Count the fires by glowing flames, never by the ashes that fall.

Count your days by the golden hours, don’t remember clouds at all.

Count the nights by stars, not shadows.

Count your life by smiles, not tears.

And with joy on every day, count your age by friends, not years.” 

Hello November!  We are grateful to welcome you.

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With the devastating fires of the past month throughout California, our atmosphere has been filled with smoke and ash.  The air quality has been so poor that we have been warned to stay indoors or wear N-95 rated masks when walking outside.  Wildfire smoke and soot irritates eyes, skin, throat, nose, and lungs, and is especially dangerous for anyone with asthma or other respiratory illnesses.

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But what effect does the smoke and debris have on our gardens?

Surprisingly, healthy plants have the ability to absorb the dangerous carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen. Some landscapes may actually benefit from smoke as it diffuses the light allowing the shadows to be less intense under the top leaves of plants.  The lower leaves then produce more food for the plant. Plants use carbon dioxide as a fertilizer, cleaning the chemicals and toxic particles in the air while restoring and cleansing our atmosphere.

Houseplants are extremely beneficial in cleaning our indoor air quality. They have the ability to reduce the effects of mold, dust, microbes, and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds).  Spider plants, pothos, snake plant, spathiphyllum, philodendron, palms, and ficus benjamina are all easy to grow and work overtime to keep us breathing clean, fresh air.

Scientists are discovering the dire consequences of climate change not only on our physical well-being but on our mental fitness. Disasters such as the catastrophic hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and fires have a dramatic negative impact on our health. We can help the environment as well as our families by maintaining a positive outlook and putting a smile on our face while we work together diligently to reduce our carbon footprint.

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for November

Want to protect your valuable plants from any negative effects from the smoke?

Here are a few simple tasks to undertake.

  1. 1. Any vegetable or fruit still in the orchard or garden needs to be washed thoroughly before consuming.  A solution of vinegar and water is a time- tested cleanser.
  2. 2. Compost any damaged bush, flower, fruit, or vegetable.
  3. 3. Spray your plants with a hose to remove any clogged particles. Continue to do this until you see a difference.
  4. 4. Fertilize the landscape now, including your grass and lawn.
  5. 5. Add three inches of mulch to your garden if you didn’t already do it last month.
  6. 6. Any bare earth needs a cover crop. Clover, alfalfa, wildflowers, fava beans, vetch, and mustard will add nitrogen to the soil.
  7. 7. Remove any dead or dying trees or shrubs. When planting new trees, space them at least 10 feet apart.
  8. 8. Be fire-wise by clearing your roof, gutters, eaves, decks, and patios of debris.
  9. 9. Mow your lawns and keep them green. Lawns clean the air we breathe, absorb smoke and pollutants, and change sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide into oxygen. A swath of green offers a healthy filtration system while being a flame retardant safety zone. Green lawn lawn2.jpg

Make fire prevention a top priority by creating a defensible space around your home and garden. Fires burn only when fuel is present and a dry landscape is fuel for the fire.

Other Tips for your November To-Do List:

  • WINTERIZE your garden. Cover frost prone plants and shrubs with blankets or burlap. Wash patio furniture before storing or covering. Move fragile container plants under an eave or away from harsh winds.
  • PRUNE your fruit trees and crape myrtles once all the leaves have fallen. Keep branches a minimum of 6 feet from the ground.
  • RAKE leaves to add to the compost pile. It is especially important to rake redwood and pine needles as they tend to blanket an area suffocating any other living things.
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  • PLANT bulbs for spring blooms. (You have been refrigerating your tulips and crocuses, right?)
  • CLEAN gutters of all debris to prevent clogging when the rains come.
  • SOW lawn seed and keep the seed watered until it sprouts.
  • PICK guavas and bananas as they ripen.
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  • WAIT another month before harvesting persimmons. If you are having problems with the birds and squirrels eating your unripe fruit, pick early, and refrigerate.
  • PLANT garlic and shallots before the weather turns cold. Easy to grow, they will over-winter to supply you with big savory bulbs for a summer harvest.
  • ARRANGE roses, clivia, euphorbia, and branches for a beautiful fall display.
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  • GROW chrysanthemums. These long blooming flowers are available in a variety of colors and textures adding a smile to any visitor.
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  • PROVIDE food and water for the birds, especially since many are migrating.
  • HARVEST cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower, broccoli, kale, carrots, beets, Swiss Chard, Brussels  Sprouts as well as arugula and nasturtiums for your healthy meals. These foods are high in antioxidants which support the body’s ability to fight off toxins and reduce chronic inflammation.
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  • AERATE your lawns. For more information on grass selections and the benefits of planting grass see www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1117/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-The-grass-is-always-greener.html
  • MARVEL at the changing colors of the leaves on trees, specifically Japanese maple, pistache, liquid amber, and crape myrtle.
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  • CHECK out the glorious bark of the eucalyptus tree and the hanging trumpets of the Angel trumpet vine.
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  • CUT a few branches from grapevines to use as table décor for an autumn gathering.
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  • BRING houseplants outside for a shower and day in the cooler sunshine. They’ll be ready for a winter of air freshening back inside.
  • ADD a peaceful, quiet element to a container by planting a white mandevilla. If you protect it from frost, you’ll get an annual display of florets.
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  • PACK  “To Go emergency bags” and keep one in your home and in your car. In case of a disaster, every second counts.
  • TAKE a break and head to the beach. The sea air will refresh and reawaken your joyful spirit. (It works every time for me!)
  • GET ready for Thanksgiving with a garden display of mixed pumpkins, gourds, and scarecrows.
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Gratitude is the theme for November. The days are short. The soil is warm. The nights are cool. We pray for rain and for peace on our planet. Our thoughts and prayers go to all of those who have suffered in the recent natural disasters.  It’s been a challenging few months for our country and our world, yet despite the tragedies, let us all count our star blessings and keep on smiling.

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Read more at Lamorinda Weekly: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1118/Cynthia-Brians-Gardening-Guide-for-November-Where-there-is-smoke.html

Cynthia Brian

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Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, 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. Please make a donation to help with hurricane & fire disaster relief at www.BetheStarYouAre.org.  

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

My new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, is available at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Will ship end of November.

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Available for hire for any gardening project.  

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

The Grass is Always Greener…

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Empowerment
The Grass is Always Greener…

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By Cynthia Brian

“Society is like a lawn where every roughness is smoothed, every bramble eradicated, and where the eye is delighted by the smiling verdure of a velvet surface.” Washington Irving

The cool evenings, warm days, and majestic orange sunsets signal the season of fall. While children will be preparing for the festivities of Halloween, gardeners need to be thinking about greening their lawn costumes. Much to my dismay, throughout the drought our water company encouraged homeowners to dispense with growing grass and either let lawns die or replant with succulents and other drought resistant species. In my humble opinion, this was terrible advice as a healthy lawn offers so many benefits not only to the environment but also to our health and wellbeing. It is also much more expensive to revamp a landscape than it is to maintain it, even minimally. With the drought in our rearview mirror, my email has been blowing up with requests on how to re-install a green lawn.

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Thankfully all is not lost as autumn is the perfect time to plant a new lawn or reseed an existing one. Most grass seeds that you scatter in late October or early November will thicken and be well established by spring. Over-seeding a healthy existing lawn works wonders but if you have multiple bare spots, using a grass patch is a super alternative.

“What type of grass should I plant?” you may be thinking. Several readers have asked about UC Verde buffalograss. Although I have never set out plugs of this buffalograss, it is my understanding that this particular grass must be planted in the spring as it goes dormant in the winter, allowing for more weeds to take hold. It is also work intensive as you cannot just toss seeds or plant sod.  Plugs need to be planted on a twelve-inch center. Once established, it is resistant to most turf damaging insects and diseases and requires less water than other grasses.  Since it is seedless, it produces less seed heads resulting in less pollen, which may be of interest to allergy sufferers.

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My personal preferences to obtaining a greener grass is to use seeds from Pearl’s Premium (www.PearlsPremium.com), red or white clover, or plant plugs of isotoma, also known as blue star creeper. Full disclosure, I do not work for, nor have I any affiliation with any of these three favorite lawn alternatives. I recommend them because they work. You can plant just one species for a clean, fresh, green blanket of tactile grass, or you can mix and match as long as you realize that your lawn will resemble a patchwork quilt.

Here’s a run down on my three preferred lawns:

Pearl’s Premium: www.PearlsPremium.com

Although you can start from scratch, I really appreciate being able to over seed my existing lawn with grass seed that grows roots to 20 inches deep, starves out the weeds, and is easy to maintain. Pearl’s Premium is constantly upgrading its seed to be the most effective for creating a beautiful lawn. This past year it added a thin white coating to the seed to help gardeners know where exactly the seed has been tossed. The coating also thwarts our feathered diners, although I suggest putting screens over areas with new lawn seed if you witness birds pecking at the ground. Spread the lawn seed at a rate of 10 pounds per 1000 square feet right over your existing lawn. Add organic fertilizer and top dress with ¼ inch of organic compost.  I like to spread the seed right before a rain, but otherwise water twice a day until the grass sprouts then, be attentive to watering needs. In our warmer climate, to maintain the greenest color, you may have to water deeply twice a week, but it will be less than using other grass seeds. Once established, the lawn gets so lush and thick that you may need to adjust your sprinkler heads. Although many people have indicated that they mow once a month, I have found that for the most manicured look, it is necessary to mow at least twice a month, or ideally, once a week at a mower height of 3.5 inches.

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Clover

At one time clover was systematically eradicated from lawns using pesticides. But as gardeners now realize the importance of organic living, more homeowners are including clover in their grass. As a legume, clover has ability to turn nitrogen into fertilizer using the bacteria in its root system. It stays green all year, even when it is not watered on a regular basis. I love it because it thrives in conditions where other grass seeds struggle. It does fine in the sun or the shade and even in poorly drained soil. My favorite parts of growing clover besides its self-fertilizing system, are the beautiful pink or white flowers that crown the tops of the clover when it is left uncut. Butterflies, bees, and beneficial insects flock to clover. Don’t be afraid of the honeybees as they usually don’t sting when away from their hives. Clover does best when it is mixed with grass seed. I mix mine with Pearl’s Premium. Try incorporating 2 ounces of clover for 1000 square feet of lawn.

By planting the two together, you’ll have a minimum care green lawn.

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Isotoma—Blue Star Creeper

This lawn substitute is best used in small areas or between stepping stones. I like it for its tiny blue star flowers that surface and shine brightly spring through summer.  I would only use it in combination with clover and Pearl’s Premium because I have found that in the cold months it has a tendency to look brown and ragged. It likes full sunshine, doesn’t require much water, and sustains immense foot traffic, both human and animal, without damage. It sends out runners and creeps along and is especially good as a ground cover. If you like the idea of a patchwork lawn, buy a flat or two of isotoma and plant the plugs randomly throughout your existing grass as a filler and thriller.

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For homeowners who want instant gratification, sod is the answer. The caveat with planting sod is that the roots don’t grow deeply enough and sod has a shorter lifespan. You can lengthen the longevity by over-seeding when bare spots begin appearing. By throwing seed on top of the sod, keeping the grass watered and fed, you’ll be able to have a long lasting green oasis.

Benefits of Maintaining a Lawn

Although many people tend to discourage lawns in landscapes as a water conservation method, I am a firm believer that the humble grass shoot offers benefits to our health and wellbeing.  Besides the fact that children and animals enjoy a safe, comfortable place to tumble and toss, lawns contribute to better air quality by trapping dust and smoke particles while cooling the air from the ground up. Our environments are made more habitable by the generation of oxygen absorbing the pollutants of carbon and sulfur dioxide. Lawns clean the air we breathe. Erosion is controlled because water can’t carve deep recesses in a thickly planted lawn. Water filters through turf grass making our ground waters safer and cleaner for the environment. A patch of green soothes the eye in viewing a landscape, offering a resting space between the color explosions of flowers and shrubs. And a huge plus in our fire prone communities, lawns offer a buffer zone for fire prevention.

The grass will only be greener if you maintain it. You’ll be rewarded with better health for you and the environment. Your green grass is your safety zone. May all your roughness be smoothed as you delight in your velvet verdure.

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Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Garden Guide

  • FIRE danger is at a high point this month. Be alert. Remove brush, wood, dry grass, and all other flammable materials from around the perimeter of your home.  Clear your roof and gutters of leaves. Create 100 feet of defensible space around your home and structures.
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  • SIGN up for emergency notifications at www.nixle.us. The easiest way is to do it through text messaging on your smart phone. Text 888777.  In the message area, type in your zip code. You will get an alert in case of any impending emergency.
  • APPLY deer repellent to young trees and shrubs. As winter nears the deer are hungrier and will do damage to saplings causing branch injury and even inviting diseases.
  • EAT fresh locally grown figs and grapes.
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  • CHECK for decay or damage to trees to thwart injury or downing of trees when storms arrive.
  • MULCH your landscape to prevent erosion in winter and protect plants from a freeze.
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  • SWIM a few laps in a garden pool before the cold weather begins.
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  • ORDER my new gardening book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, from my on-line store and receive extra goodies. 25 % of the sales will benefit Be the Star You Are!® 501c3 helping in disaster relief. http://www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store

PRAY for the firefighters, first responders, evacuees, shelter volunteers and everyone that is affected by this most disastrous fire in California history. Napa County is my birthplace and the home of my family, our ranch, and vineyards. We will rise again! front cover-Growing with the goddess gardener book copy.jpg

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Read more in the Lamorinda Weekly:https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1117/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-The-grass-is-always-greener.html

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Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, 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. Please make a donation to help with hurricane disaster relief at www.BetheStarYouAre.org.  

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

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My new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, is available at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store.

Available for hire for any gardening project.  

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Hanging Out!

Posted by Editor on
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Empowerment
Hanging Out!

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By Cynthia Brian

“Delicious autumn!”  George Elliot

The harvest of grapes, pears, figs, and apples is in full swing. My Ribier grape vine has twined its way into my crabapple tree and I now have a “grape tree” with succulent bunches hanging from branches. If we can keep the squirrels, rats, raccoons, rabbits, and birds away, we will be picking pumpkins, winter squash, walnuts, olives, persimmons, and pomegranates soon. The season of delicious and nutritious has arrived.

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Besides the delectable edibles on the trees, vines, and in the garden, I find myself falling for hanging baskets of spectacular beauty. From the vineyards of Temecula in Southern California to the coastline towns on the Oregon coast, everywhere I travel I’ve 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. As long as the flowers are deadheaded when they are spent, the masses of blooms will continue to be stunning show stoppers until the first frost.  Contrasting colors, bright foliage, and appealing textures highlight these artistic, fashionable forms.

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Even edibles work well in hanging baskets.  Peas, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, nasturtiums, and any herbs are great contributors. You can even mix and match with vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Butterflies and hummingbirds will be constant visitors. For a no-care container, fill it with succulents. Hanging baskets are especially perfect for brightening small areas.

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Creating a hanging masterpiece is quite simple and you can enjoy the beauty from spring until winter.

Suggested Bold Statements for PlantingVerbena

Calibrachoa

Cascading petunia

Fuchsia

Impatiens

Lobelia

Cyclamen

Geranium

Ivy

Marigold

Asparagus fern

Sweet potato vine

Begonia

Vinca

Heliotrope

Schizanthus

Viola

Dianthus

Osteospermum

Coleus

Sweet alyssum

Bacopa

Snapdragon

New Guinea impatiens

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How to Make a Hanging Basket

  1. 1. Any sturdy container that has a hole in the bottom can work including buckets, colanders, or old boots. Plastic planters are the least expensive, however they are also the least attractive. Once the plantings are mature, the container could be covered with greenery, but I prefer to use a wire basket.  Line the wire basket with sphagnum moss, coco-fiber, burlap, or even discarded fabric and soak the liner overnight.
  2. 2. Add a lightweight potting soil to cover a few inches of the bottom. Don’t use garden soil as it is too heavy. The goal is to have a lightweight soil that doesn’t compact to promote proper drainage.
  3. 3. Plant the flowers, herbs, vegetables you wish and cover with soil.
  4. 4. Water thoroughly, making sure that the soil doesn’t wash away.
  5. 5. Fill with more soil.
  6. 6. Water again.
  7. 7. Add moss top layer to help with water retention.
  8. 8. If you are using a wire basket, poke holes in various places and plant your specimens to exhibit a full, rounded globe.
  9. 9. Anchor hooks securely to an area that receives ample sunlight.  Keep in mind these baskets can become very heavy.
  10. 10. Water daily, or check if the basket needs water by inserting a stick into the soil. If it comes at dry, you need to water. Never let the soil get soggy or the roots will drown and the plants will die.
  11. 11. Feed monthly with a water-soluble fertilizer or use plant spikes or slow-release fertilizers.

Hanging baskets add the “wow” to any landscape and provide instant curb appeal.  When edibles are included, you’ll be able to have a meal from a wheel. Fill, spill, and thrill. This is a delicious autumn!

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Cynthia Brian’s October Gardening Guide

  • CLEAR brush, debris, wood, and other flammables from around the perimeter of your house. Fire season is most dangerous in October as everything is so dry. For more information or assistance visit http://www.fire.ca.gov/
  • PREPARE soil for reseeding or sowing lawn or adding sod. Next issue I’ll be discussing planting lawns in more detail.
  • DEADHEAD annuals and perennials for continuous blooming until frost.
  • CUT off spent rose blossoms to get another flush of blooms through Christmas.
  • TAKE photos of your trees as they begin their autumn wardrobe change.
  • PLANT garlic bulbs and cool season vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Swiss chard,
  • REFRIGERATE spring blooming bulbs including crocus, hyacinth, and tulip. Mark paper bags and keep cold until planting time in mid November through January.
  • VISIT your favorite nursery to find trees for fall planting. This next month is a prime time for planting trees and shrubs.
  • BEWARE of the danger of creosote poisoning if railroad ties were used in your landscape. The EPA has stated that humans should not use creosote treated railroad ties where frequent or prolonged bare skin contact can occur.
  • EXPERIMENT with designing hanging baskets for your landscape.
  • BE vigilant of deterring skunks, rats, and other rodents from your property. As the weather turns inclement, they will be looking for shelter.
  • VISIT a petting zoo of rescued and adopted animals. Zeus, the camel, became my buddy.
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  • PLUNGE into a swimming pool, then share a glass of local vino with a friend.
  • ENJOY an Indian summer of warm days and cool nights. Get outside for a bit of forest bathing to savor the deliciousness of fall.

Just hang around! We are so blessed to live with four glorious seasons.

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Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1116/Cynthia-Brians-Gardening-Guide-for-October-Just-hanging-around.html

Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, 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. Please make a donation to help with hurricane disaster relief at www.BetheStarYouAre.org.  

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

My new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, will be available by mid month. HURRAY! Thanks for your patience.

Available for hire for any gardening project.  

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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