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Dancing Naked Ladies & Wild Things in the Garden

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Dancing Naked Ladies & Wild Things in the Garden

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“Those who danced were thought insane 

by those who could not hear the music.”

~Unknown

Can you hear the music? Or are you insane?

Dancing in the breeze, Naked Ladies are South African natives in the Amaryllis belladonna family with bare, unadorned stems that turn their faces to the sunshine.

The long straight necks and the perfect pink throats of the Naked Ladies brighten every late summer landscape. In our climate they bloom at the same time as agapanthus, making for a lovely yin yang interaction of pinks and blues. When little else is blooming in the blazing summer sun, and the deer have dined on garden delicacies, the toxic bulbs of Naked Ladies can always be counted on to put on a brilliant ballet.

In winter and spring the bulbs grow leaves that are glossy and spear shaped, often mistaken for agapanthus. By summer the leaves have died back and only the heads of the bulbs can be seen. Miraculously one morning you’ll walk into your garden to witness a sprouted leafless stem, soon followed by a pretty pink face.  Naked Ladies will bloom for four to six weeks, swaying to the music of the wind. As soon as the blooms fade, cut the stalk back to the ground. Since the plant is now dormant, this is the time to divide the clumps to replant bulbs wherever you want a patch of Naked Ladies for the next year. If you scatter the fresh seeds from the dried flowers, they may germinate in as little as two weeks, but will take as many as six years to flower.

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Naked Ladies are not fussy at all. They can be planted in gravel, dirt, or enriched soil as long as they are planted in the sunshine. They will last for many years with little to no care. Once established they require minimal water, thus, they are a great flowering solution to drought inclined climates. A single bulb will multiply into a clump of bulbs, yet the clumps don’t travel far. When the clumps are bare, they resemble a turtle’s back. It is best to plant in groups. If you plant in rows, they will remain in rows until you transplant the bulbs elsewhere.  Amaryllis belladonna are also spectacular long lasting cut flowers.

Naked Ladies are not the only specimens strutting their stuff in our yards. Raccoons, deer, skunks, coyotes, squirrels, and turkeys are in unafraid abundance this August. As I approached my home driving from work, a family of three deer polished off my gladioli on my driveway.

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I see them daily roaming the neighborhood munching on every edible while coyotes provide a nightly chorus of howling from the hills. Outside my back door, a skunk sniffed in search of food.  No sooner had the skunk slinked away empty handed than a huge raccoon pranced onto the patio, also seeking dinner. Both nocturnal creatures are gorgeous to admire from behind glass but are not to be approached as they dance in the dark. (I snapped photos instead.)skunk on patio.jpg

Make sure to remove any pet food from outside and tighten garbage can lids to avert their nightly invasions.  The squirrels have been ravaging the grapevines. The grapes are not quite ripe but are certainly sweet and delicious to those bushy tailed rodents.

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Since I can’t control the parade of turkeys flying into my garden, I’ve learned to admire their dances. Sometimes two or more families with two-dozen chicks will trot across the plot, scratching, clucking, yelping, purring, flapping, and gobbling. My reward for allowing them into my space is a collection of beautiful feathers to adorn my creations.turkeys trotting.jpg

Take a peak outside and listen to the music. Nature is dancing.

“Great dancers are not great because of their technique – they are great because of their passion.'” Martha Graham

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Guide

MOSQUITO WATCH: Did you know that mosquitoes are the most deadly creatures on the planet? Except for Maine, West Nile Virus transmitted by mosquitoes has been reported in all the states of the continental United States. Zika is the most recent mosquito-borne disease to infect humans and cause birth defects. In Asia, Japanese Encephalitis is deadly and malaria has been a global killer for centuries. As vectors for diseases they also transmit Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, and Dog Heartworm. Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide. People with high metabolisms create more CO2 and attract more mosquitoes. What can you do to keep these pesky, biting, disease filled flyers away?

  • ⎫ Empty all standing water from any vessel.
  • ⎫ Add DUNKS to ponds or fountains. Vector Control gives free mosquito fish to pond owners. Call 925-771-6192.
  • ⎫ Apply DEET to all exposed skin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that oil of lemon eucalyptus can be as effective as low doses of DEET, however, it needs to be reapplied every fifteen to twenty minutes.
  • ⎫ Sunscreen/repellent combinations are not as effective and are not recommended.
  • ⎫ Repellent clothing such as Insect Shield is worthwhile. (www.insectshield.com)

If you are planning a trip and you’d like to know how to protect yourself from these pests visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Traveler Health page. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel

PINCH back annuals and perennials to increase continual blooms until winter.

DEADHEAD roses and dahlias.

HANG a basket of yellow and red petunias on your patio for instant dazzle.

PHOTOGRAPH the crape myrtle trees that are in their full flush of blooms this month.

DEEP-SOAK redwood and magnolia trees, especially during hot weather.

CALL Vector Control before 7 am Monday-Friday at 925-771-6192 if you trap or need to trap a skunk.  Along with rats, voles, moles, gophers, and raccoons, skunks are in abundance this year. Vector Control can advise you about all of these creatures but it only offers removal services for skunks and yellow jackets.

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!cu naked lady.jpg

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1113/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-Dancing-Naked-Ladies-and-strutting-wildlife.html

Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is a New York Times best selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are1® 501 c3.

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

Available for hire for any project.  

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

925-377-STAR

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In Praise of Farmers By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
In Praise of Farmers By Cynthia Brian

“Let us never forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization.” Daniel Webster

With so many luscious fruits and vegetables at their peak of perfection in August, the prospect of the perfect meal awaits! Ripe and juicy nectarines, peaches, apricots, Asian pears are devoured right off the tree, or drizzled with olive oil to be grilled on the barbecue. Tomatoes, peppers, corn, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, blackberries, melons, and beans offer the promise of culinary creativity as we harvest yet another bushel. Farmer’s Markets tender the very best of the season, a good reason to stock up on freshness and quality to freeze or can for the winter months.

But have you ever pondered the labor involved from the farmers behind the superior produce you discover at the Farmer’s Markets or in your local grocery aisle?

Throughout my teen years, I worked in the fruit cutting sheds along with my two sisters where we would half and pit apricots, peaches, and pears, laying them on wooden flats to be sun dried, packaged, and sold. For years afterwards I couldn’t eat any of these three fruits because of the memories of the dirty, exhausting work in the hot summer sun. We were paid by the fifty pound lug of fruit cut, with apricots earning us about twenty cents a box containing two hundred or more “cots”. Peaches and pears paid half as much because they were bigger and therefore, less fruit was packed in a lug. Cutting peaches was the nastier job. The peach fuzz stuck to our skin as the juice ran from the peach pit to our armpits. When the gong rang at 4:30pm indicating that our nine-hour shift was terminated, our itching bodies would dash home for a shower. If we had earned $20 for a full day’s work, we were considered in the top one percent of farm employees.

Although the work was tough, when I reminisce about those farm day experiences, I am grateful for the manual labor of my youth. Whenever I purchase a fruit or vegetable that hasn’t grown in my personal garden, I am filled with appreciation for the toil of the farmers and the laborers who have worked rain or shine for many seasons to bring these crops to market. These hard working people are the unsung heroes of our lives.

My Daddy was one of those men. Farming was a career that demanded attention 365 days a year. He could work for several months only to have a complete crop and his one annual paycheck devastated by rain or pests or drought.  When he was asked why he didn’t like to gamble he’d retort that being a farmer meant that every day was a gambling day. He didn’t have to go to the tables to wrestle with Lady Luck.

From the time my siblings and I could toddle, we worked the fields. As our age and abilities grew, we were given more responsibilities. By eight years of age, we all drove tractor, plowed the vineyards, picked fruit, and worked the harvest. We always new where our food came from because as farmers, we planted, weeded, watered, tilled, mowed, hauled, mulched, fertilized, pruned, sprayed, protected, harvested, then started the process all over again prepping for the next season of crops.

There have been surveys done around the world asking children to explain from where their food came. Responses in the United States included that cucumbers come wrapped in plastic, eggs come from cartons, peas are found in the freezer, and chocolate milk is from brown cows. Recently, twenty-seven percent of Australian kids in their final year of primary school believed that yogurt grew on trees while seventy-five percent thought cotton socks came from animals. In England, 1/3 of the country’s children thought fish sticks came from pigs or chickens, tomatoes grew underground, potatoes grew on bushes, and cheese was raised on plants. More disturbing was the majority of children stated that everything originates in the supermarket.  Unfortunately adults didn’t fair much better in surveys. These statistics reflect poorly on the intelligence of citizens in first world countries.  We need to do better with educating our public of where our food is grown, how long it takes to grow, and the hazards that farmers face.

America was an agrarian society until the early 1900’s. Now we are a technology focused country. As of the last census, only one percent of Americans are farmers. I commend the schools where gardening is part of the curriculum.  We can all become more appreciative of the growing cycles when we become knowledgeable and even more so when we become home farmers ourselves. We have the responsibility to involve our children in the growing process by giving them the opportunity to plant, water, and tend to fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Besides being a superb science lesson, children will develop an appreciation for farm freshness and feel a sense of achievement and accomplishment. An added benefit is children enjoy eating what they grew. Thankfully, there has been a renaissance in learning the skills of canning. Baking pies from scratch is becoming fashionable again. As a child, “putting up” our fruits and vegetables for winter consumption was a fun family affair, one I passed on to my children, and hope that one day they will pass it on to their progeny.

The next time you bite into a peach–fresh, dried, or canned, say a little prayer of thanks for the extraordinary efforts that went into its development. Farmers are the foundation of our civilization and we need to honor and respect their art. It’s time we get back to our roots.

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Nature Guide

Allow Asian Pears to ripen on the tree. When the skin color changes from green to yellow they are ready for picking. Fruit can be stored at room temperature for two to three weeks and up to six months in refrigeration.

Super Star Vegetables: Kale has been on the popular healthy vegetable list for several years. In the near future, you’ll start seeing more publicity around beets and cauliflower. Packed with vitamins C, K, and B 6, cauliflower can be roasted, mashed, steamed, or eaten raw. Beets have anti-inflammatory properties, lower blood glucose, improve muscle power, and aid heart health. Plan on planting all three this autumn.

Order or be on the look out for bulbs of garlic, shallots, and onions for fall planting.

Warning: Coyotes are getting bolder. In less than a week, I came within ten feet of a coyote on my driveway at 9 am and another ambling down Camino Pablo near the school around 3:30pm. Neither of these large carnivores were frightened by me. Keep your small animals and children safe. My article “Rats, Rattles, and Voles” (https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1111/Gardening-Guide-for-August-Rats-rattles-and-voles.html) increased the conversation concerning wild animals around our homes. Readers reported an increase in skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, deer, moles, voles, rats, mice, and snakes around homes. Although these critters were here before we settled, we do need to be vigilant to protect ourselves.

Win $50,000 for your Garden:  Enter America’s Best Gardener Contest. Grand prize is $50,000.  I am honored to have been chosen as a judge. Show the world that your thumb is the greenest. http://www.americasbestgardener.com

Pre-Order my forthcoming garden book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, Book I in the Garden Shorts Series. Publishing was greatly delayed but copies of the book will be shipped by September.  All pre-orders will receive extra goodies such as heirloom seeds, bookmarks, and more. Book is $14.95 for black/white interior. Price for color interior photos has not been determined yet. Email me for details, Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com. 25% of the proceeds benefit the 501c3 Be the Star You Are!® charity. http://www.GoddessGardener.com/

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!
Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1112/Digging-Deep-Gardening-with-Cynthia-Brian-In-Praise-of-Farmers.html

Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is a New York Times best selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are1® 501 c3.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show and order her books at www.StarStyleRadio.com
Available for hire for any project.
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR

Rats, Rattles, and Voles By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Rats, Rattles, and Voles By Cynthia Brian

“There’s a snake lurking in the grass.” Virgil


10 rattles! Diamond pattern on the skin. This was no gopher snake!

I was checking my orchard on the hill agonizing over the gopher mounds when I saw the slithering snake. Excited to know that I had a friend in the rodent business, I quickly ran to get a closer look.  Dang! Not a gopher snake but crotalus oreganus oreganus-northern Pacific rattlesnake. I was wearing my normal summer gardening gear-shorts, bathing suit top, cowboy hat, and boots.  Not exactly the suggested outfit for wrangling a rattler.  As I was counting the number of rattles, he/she slinked into the rosemary bush bordering my vegetable garden.

It’s been over five years since I’ve witnessed a rattlesnake on my property.  According to the experts, because of the wet winter and now the dry summer, rats, mice, gophers, and voles are ubiquitous, which means that their hunters are in abundance as well. This season I’ve had several gopher, garter, and king snakes as wanted guests. Rattlesnakes give me the shivers.

Every summer growing up on our ranch in Napa County meant a meeting with at least fifty or more rattlers. I’ve stepped on a few in the past and a couple snaked over the top of my boots. Fortunately neither I, nor anyone in my family has ever suffered a bite. Rattlesnakes are the only pit viper found in California.  All are poisonous and potentially dangerous.  They kill their prey with their venom as opposed to constriction. Babies are born fully developed with one rattle and are even more potent than adults.  The rattles on the end of the snake’s tail are used as a warning system, alerting predators or humans to stay away. Every time the snake sheds, a new rattle is grown. Rattles can break off, and to the unaccustomed bystander, a snake without rattles may resemble a gopher snake. Without proper identification, never handle a snake in the grass. Rattlesnakes are not aggressive and don’t usually strike unless provoked, however, since they seek warm-blooded prey, a human could be mistaken as food.

Rodents are inundating homes and gardens this year in search of water and food.  Wherever rodents race, snakes that eat rodents follow.  I discovered a terrific trap that zaps rats and mice dead. It’s called The Rat Zapper and it works like a charm.
For gophers, box traps and black hole traps work best. The moles are normally looking for grubs in a lawn and don’t do much damage. I just stomp down on their ridges.  Voles, also called “field mice” or meadow mice” are bad news as they target the root systems of vegetable gardens, lawns, and fruit orchards. They will gnaw at the trunks of trees and shrubs, chew blades and stems of grass, and eat bulbs. They often use empty mole or gopher burrows as their runways.  Voles reproduce rapidly leading to mass destructions of landscapes. Snap traps are best to catch these critters when they exit their holes.

The best protection to minimize the rodent infestation is to invite their natural predators– owls, hawks, and yes, snakes.  A family of barn owls will hunt and eat up to a thousand rodents a year. Consider installing a nesting box for owls. The hawks fly with the wind currents to find the rodent restaurant. Most snakes to visit our gardens are not venomous, yet, all snakes can bite and should not be handled. King snakes are my very favorite snake to have in a garden because they kill rattlesnakes.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife suggests the following precautions since rattlesnakes do not just reside in rural areas. We live in hill country with plenty of open space, creeks, and trails. Rattlesnakes are here. Pay attention.

⎫ Be alert when walking in a park, golf course, or riverbank.

⎫ Wear sturdy boots and don’t wear flip flops when hiking. Stay on the trail and don’t wander into the brush. Inform your children to stay with you.

⎫ Avoid tall brush, woodpiles, and underbrush. Snakes often hide during the heat of the day, then, come out at dusk and dawn to hunt.

⎫ Check your sleeping bag when camping, step on rocks and logs instead of climbing over them.

⎫ Watch where you step when leaving your house or a building. Rattlesnakes often stretch out at door thresholds.

⎫ Rattlesnakes swim. Don’t grab onto floating sticks or branches when swimming anywhere, including your swimming pool.

⎫ Don’t put your hand into a place you can’t see. Don’t weed under bushes unless you’ve rattled the area.

⎫ A dead rattlesnake is still venomous. The head needs to be buried.

⎫ If you have a dog, talk to your veterinarian about getting the canine rattlesnake vaccine. For small dogs, it doesn’t always work, but for a large dog, it could be life saving.

⎫ Hire a snake wrangler if you find an unwanted snake. Check online.

In case of a rattlesnake bite, call Poison Control immediately at 800-222-1222 and get to the nearest emergency room. Stay calm, remove rings, and don’t try to suck the venom, cut the wound, tourniquet the bite or ice it.  Most rattlesnake bites are accidental, but all are very dangerous, and can be fatal.

I still haven’t found my rattlesnake but I am being extra cautious, especially when weeding, wearing my boots, gloves, and carrying a sharp shovel.  As much as I despise rats and other rodents, a rattlesnake is not a welcome serpent in my summer paradise where I prefer to be barefoot and bikini clad!

Enjoy the summer and join me in my dance to stay clear of the rats, rattles, and voles!

Cynthia Brian’s Summer Tips:

The following plants are repellents to gophers and moles. Plant them in areas of infestation.
Rosemary
Marigold
Oleander
Penstemon
Catmint
Salvia
Strawberry
Daffodil
Castor Bean

Garden Events

⎫ If you will be in Europe in September you may want to visit the spoga+gafa, the world’s leading garden trade fair September 3-5 in Cologne, Germany with over 2000 exhibitors from 60 countries. http://ow.ly/pBxP30dA88D

⎫ The World’s Pure Food Fair and National Heirloom Expo happens in Santa Rosa September 5, 6,and 7 with three day tickets only $25. Heritage poultry, music, seeds, fruit tastings, dahlia show, colossal pumpkins, and more. http://www.theheirloomexpo.com

⎫ Closer to home, Moraga Gardens Farm, a non-profit volunteer membership garden, 1290 Moraga Way, Moraga between the fire station and School Street grows many varieties of pesticide free, organic vegetables including tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, chard, fruits, and herbs. Watch for demonstrations, lectures, and sales. https://moragagardensfarm.org

Blooming Beautiful!
Roses
Gladioli
Firecracker Plants
Snapdragons
Magnolias
Petunias
Pelargoniums
Geraniums
Daisies
Yarrow
Hollyhocks
Osteospermums

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Read More: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1111/Gardening-Guide-for-August-Rats-rattles-and-voles.html

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is a New York Times best selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are1® 501 c3.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com
Her new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener will be available this month!
Hire Cynthia for your next project.
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR

Talking Dirt By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Talking Dirt By Cynthia Brian

You’re not a realist
unless you believe in miracles.
~Anwar Sadat

“Forgive me! I’m recovering from the holiday weekend but I need your help for the summer!” wrote a gardening client. The singular American summer festivity of Independence Day is a time for people to gather, celebrate, travel, and spend treasured moments with family and friends. Picnics, barbecues, swim parties, parades, concerts, and, of course, fireworks are the highlights of the 4th. As homeowners prepare their patios, porches, and backyards for the forthcoming celebrations of the summer season, I’ve been busy consulting with clients on how to improve their landscaping.

The number one problem in the gardens that I visit is the quality of the soil. Long ago my Daddy told me there is a difference between dirt and soil. We can be dirt rich and soil poor. Unfortunately, many gardens are filled with lots of dirt and very poor soil.

Mother Nature is a miracle worker, yet, it’s up to those of us who till to create the vision and set the groundwork for her to do her real work. In order to grow a healthy and beautiful garden, the richness of our soil is paramount.  Just as we wouldn’t build a house without first constructing a solid foundation, we can’t plant a garden unless healthy soil is in place. Over the years, times of droughts or seasons of heavy rainfall deplete the nutrients in our soil. When our fruit trees are not producing or our flowers aren’t blooming we question why this is happening. My first response is to gaze at the ground. When was the last time you added compost? Do you mulch regularly and fertilize when needed? Have you had your soil tested? Do you need to purchase clean soil?

I am a big proponent of having new, fresh, enriched soil delivered every few years to enhance the condition of the dirt. Home gardeners can have their dirt tested for a fee from a variety of labs across the United States to find out about the physical contents, contaminants, and chemicals. With this information, you’ll be able to optimize the growth of your plants and diagnosis any soil-related issues. Here is a sampling of places in California that you can contact. Visit their websites for more information or call to find out what is required.

A & L Western Laboratories, Inc.
Modesto, Ca. 95351
www.al-labs-west.com
209-529-4080

Control Laboratories
Watsonville, Ca. 95076
www.compostlab.com
831-724-5422

Dellavalle Laboratory, Inc.
Fresno, Ca. 93728
www.dellavallelab.com
800-228-9896

Fruit Growers Laboratory, Inc.
Stockton, Ca. 95215
www.fglinc.com
209-942-0182

Harmony Farm Supply and Nursery
Sebastapol, Ca. 95472
www.harmonyfarm.com
707-823-9125

Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply
Grass Valley, Ca. 95945
www.groworganic.com/soil-health.html

Soil and Plant Laboratory, Inc.
San Jose, Ca. 95128
www.soilandplantlaboratory.com
408-727-0330

Test results of soil samples may indicate an excess of salts, improper nutrient levels, too high or low PH, or problems with the soil itself. With the guidance provided by soil testing, gardeners will be able to fertilize properly and amend your dirt, creating the soil for optimum growing.

Dig in the dirt! Amend the soil. Miracles will appear.


Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Guide

HARVEST garlic. Dig the heads out with a spade. Don’t just pull on the stems. Move the garlic out of sunlight immediately to a shady, dry area such as a porch or a garage where circulation is good.  (My garage smells like a delicious Italian kitchen!) Garlic cures best with the leaves on. Don’t wash your garlic or scrape the dirt off of the bulb. .  Either lay flat or gather the stems into bunches to hang upside down to dry.  Braiding works with softneck garlic. Curing will allow you to enjoy your garlic into winter. You can eat the garlic immediately as well.  Save a few of your biggest heads to use as seed garlic for planting in the fall.

PLAY a lawn game that is new to you. How about the beanbag toss game, Cornhole, or the ring toss similar to horseshoes called Quoit? If you are not too adventurous, stick to croquet and bocce!

PROLONG the life of lemons by filling a jar with water, adding the citrus, and covering tightly. The fruit will last longer than in the refrigerator and the jar makes a pretty counter display. Limes work the same except they require refrigeration.

REHYDRATE wilted vegetables by placing them for fifteen minutes in a large bowl of cold water.

PICK carrots at their prime when they are still young, thin, and sweet. The bigger they get, the stringier and tougher. Carrots don’t need to be peeled. Scrub and go.

GATHER seeds from faded nasturtiums and four o’clocks to replant wherever you want more plants. Nasturtiums are beautiful cascading over a retaining wall or climbing a trellis while four o’clocks open their blooms in the afternoon at…surprise…4pm daily.

CUT rose rosettes to dry for a fragrant and elegant potpourri display.

WATCH for butterflies, especially yellow swallowtails. They are so intent on the flowers that they appear unafraid of the camera lens.

PICK plums and prunes.  Large crops may cause branches to break. Food banks welcome fresh fruit when you have extras.

ENJOY the bounty of fruits and flowering trees and shrubs of July.

SWIM and have fun in the sun this summer. Don’t forget your sunscreen!

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1110/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-Talking-Dirt.html

Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is a New York Times best selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are1® 501 c3.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com
Available for hire for any project.
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR

50 Shades of Vegetables: Are You Having the Most Important Relationship in Your Life? By Lorraine Giordano

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Health & Wellness
50 Shades of Vegetables: Are You Having the Most Important Relationship in Your Life? By Lorraine Giordano

Valentine’s Day inspires love and connection. Don’t forget to strengthen your relationship with your mind-body-spirit by seeking out what inspires you and involves fun! Consider including more vegetables and fruits to enhance your health. There’s plenty of options of veggies and fruits…even 50 shades darker! Check out easy tips in this @HuffingtonPost blog to create an intoxicating bond with vegetables and take advantage of their health benefits.  

More Here!

Digging Deep with Cynthia Brian – Harvest a Medicine Chest

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Digging Deep with Cynthia Brian – Harvest a Medicine Chest

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“Flowers always make people better. Flowers are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul.” Luther Burbank

Whether you have a sore throat or a sore hip, your prescription for optimum health may be as close as your garden.  Since the dawn of humanity, even before recorded history, herbs and plants have been used for medicinal purposes. Ancient cultures including the Chinese and Egyptian documented on papyrus the benefits as early as 3000 B.C. One fourth of pharmaceutical drugs we find on the market today are derived from botanicals. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 80% of the earth’s population depend on herbal remedies as primary health care. 

The falling autumn leaves signal the beginning of the influenza season as most of us rush to our local internist or drug store for the updated flu shot. I have already been vaccinated and now am preparing my first aid kit with natural remedies from my garden pharmacy.  Many fruits, vegetables, herbs, seeds, and leaves that are growing in your garden can be harvested not only to be added to your dinner menu, but, to boost your immune system, clean wounds, calm bites, reduce fevers, and arrest pain. Always consult your physician before beginning any new regimen and of course, if you need medical attention, seek a physician.

Here is a short list of my favorite common specimens and the ailments they relieve. 

Mint: Spearmint, peppermint, hyssop, or any mint except pennyroyal (poisonous), is not only great for making your breath smell fresher, but is useful for soothing headaches, reducing fatigue, calming stomach aches, fighting nausea, and keeping colds and flu at bay.  For indigestion or diarrhea, chew on peppermint leaves. Nosh on mint raw, add it to salads, garnish dishes, or make mint tea. Mint is one of the wonder drugs.

Catnip: Besides making cats euphoric, catnip relieves cold symptoms, toothaches, flatulence, and breaks fevers. It is a member of the mint family, can be eaten raw or made into teas. Pregnant women should not consume catnip as it may induce contractions.

Rosemary: This Mediterranean herb is part of the mint family also. It’s called the “remembrance” plant because it improves circulation to the brain. The oil in the flowers act as antibacterial and anti-fungal agents. Add rosemary to meats on the barbecue grill.

Sage: The name says it all. Salvia, derived from the Latin, salvere, meaning to be saved. Sage is a lifesaver as it aids in multiple ways. Sage reduces diarrhea, relieves cramps, kills bacteria, minimizes inflammation, reduces swelling, and fights colds. Make a poultice or salve for cuts, burns, and bruises.

Red Clover: It may be growing in your lawn or you may use it as a cover crop.  The pink flowers can be made into a broth to ease coughs and colds.

Allium: Increase your intake of onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and chives not only for the aromatic culinary delights, but also if you suffer from arthritis, rheumatism, or joint pain. Researchers have found dialyl disulphide, a substance found in alliums inhibit enzymes that cause damage to joint protective cartilage.  Raw or cooked the delicious allium appear to boost your immune system. When we were kids, we even put a clove of garlic in our ears with a bit of olive oil to battle earaches. Garlic is reputed to keep vampires away, too.

Parsley: After a garlic infused meal, a bite of fresh parsley sprigs freshen your breath. Parsley also inhibits the secretion of histamines, which cause allergies and hay fever. A tea of parsley seeds or leaves is also helpful as a diuretic or laxative.

Dandelion: We all have dandelions sprouting somewhere in our gardens. Instead of cursing these tough weeds, embrace them as a nutritious addition to your diet to enhance the elimination of toxins. Dandelions may be used as a diuretic to help with PMS symptoms. Chop the leaves and add them to salads ramping up the intake of vitamin C and beta carotene.

Elderberry: Hippocrates named his elderberry tree a “medicine chest” in 400 BC. The blue/black berries made into jams, syrups, and wines are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, and iron.

Grape: Grind ripe grapes into a juice and drink without adding any other liquid to relieve migraines.

Winter savory: You use it to flavor stews, meat, and soups, but did you know that the leaves are effective antiseptics and also an ointment for insect bites and stings?

Lady fern: Roll some leaves in the palm of your hand and mash them to sooth minor burns, stings, and cuts.

Lavender: What is a garden without the soothing smell of lavender? Besides being a bee magnet, rubbing the flowers or leaves between your fingers then inhaling the fragrance is a sure stress reliever and tension liberator. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, lavender soothes the soul. Make a tea of lavender to induce sleep or use the petals in the bath as aromatherapy to bring on the calm.

lavendar[1]

Lavender

Sunflower: It’s not just the seeds that are nutritious, but a tea made from the leaves works as an astringent, expectorant, and fever reducer. Use sunflower tea to treat colds and coughs. 

Aloe Vera: This is a plant that everyone must have around the house. For burns and minor abrasions, pop open a leaf and rub the jelly on the wound to keep it from getting infected. Aloe is a great mild laxative when added to water and alleviates heartburn and sunburn.

Cabbage: Crush a handful of leaves, wrap in a cloth, and apply to forehead as a compress to help with headaches. When the compressed leaves dry out, replace them with fresh leaves.

Lemon: I use every part of the lemon for a variety of health treatments. Before any speaking engagement, radio or TV appearance, I drink a hot concoction of Meyer lemon rinds, juice, and pulp mixed with mint, water, and honey to clear my throat and enhance my vocal chords. Feel a cold coming on? Drink this brew with added torn lemon leaves, shredded ginger root, and Echinacea flowers. To clean my hands after gardening, I cut a lemon and rub them over my dirt stained digits. Want lighter, brighter locks? Squeeze the juice of any lemon on your hair and enjoy the sunshine. Migraine? Grind the peel and apply as a paste to the forehead.

Chamomile: Use fresh or dried florets and leaves to making a tummy calming tea. Chamomile helps steady jittery nerves and anxiety.

Rose: The fruit of the rose is the rose hip, one of the richest plant sources of vitamin C, high in vitamin A, B, and the antioxidant lyopene. Eat raw, cooked, or brewed to prevent colds and flu as well as an anti-inflammatory to relieve the pain of arthritis. Use the petals of rose to make a lovely scented rose water for an astringent, skin toner, and body bath.

Apple: Filled with antioxidants, pectin, and fiber, apples fight tooth decay, decrease risk of diabetes, lower cholesterol, protect against Parkinson, cancers, and perhaps Alzheimer’s diseases, prevent cataracts, gallstones, and boost the immune system. An apple a day will keep the doctor away.

These are just a smattering of the plant based healing that you will find in nature’s drug store, also known, as your backyard garden. If the year was 1692 and I lived in Puritanical Salem, I’d be hung as a witch for prescribing these “devilish” herbal remedies. Since it’s 2013 in Lamorinda, I’ll keep stirring the cauldron of healthy natural choices and caution you to use these powerful potions wisely.

Happy Harvest. Happy Halloween Haunting. Happy Gardening and Growing.

 

©2013
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.  
Cynthia will answer one or more questions every other issue as space allows. Email your comments or questions to Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com 
 
Cynthia Brian is the producer and host of StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® heard LIVE every Wednesday on the Voice America Empowerment Channel from 4-5pm PT at . More information is available at http://www.StarStyleRadio.com

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