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Weeds!

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Empowerment
Weeds!

Camellias in full .jpeghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1504/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Weeds-weeds-and-more-weeds.html

Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian
The hillside is lush with weeds, poppies, calendulas, geraniums, and other plants. Photo Cynthia Brian

“You may know the world is a magical place when Mother Nature creates her own jewelry.” ~ Maya Angelou
 Spring is the most colorful season of the year with a cornucopia of bulbs, flowers, shrubs, and trees in bloom. It is also the time when Mother Nature shares the ornaments that most gardeners loathe . weeds!
 Although I am aware that a weed is just a plant growing where I don’t want it, this year those plants are in profusion everywhere. My garden is bursting with blooms, blossoms and weeds. For the past month, I have spent hours on my knees pulling the roots of numerous unwanted characters to edit my beds to my definition of beauty. Three types of weeds in my landscape are the most egregious: black medic, Carolina geranium, and common grasses that have blown in from the surrounding hills.
 The best method to eradicate and control weeds organically involves several steps. First, it is essential to pull the weeds with the roots attached as they develop. The goal is to get rid of the weeds when they are sprouting and, definitely before they set and scatter seeds. Second, enrich the soil with compost. You will find more weeds will emerge because of the nutrient-rich soil.
 Third, go back to step one and remove the second batch of weeds. Fourth, top-dress with three inches of organic mulch which can be bark, straw, cocoa chips, shredded leaves, or even grass clippings.
 I am always experimenting with how best to accomplish a weed-free garden. Here are some things I discovered this year:
 1. The most densely growing patches of weeds, especially Carolina geranium and hill grasses, were in areas where I had only amended with shredded leaves or had done nothing at all.
 2. Where I added two inches of enriched soil without any top dressing, weeds grew lush and full but were easily pulled by hand.
 3. In beds where I only added wood chips, a smattering of weeds emerged, mostly black medic.
 4. In places where I had brought in new soil and topped it with wood chips, there were fewer weeds easily yanked by hand.
 5. In areas where I did a two-step mulch of shredded newspaper and cardboard topped with bark, there were minimal to no weeds. My observations indicate that a two-step mulching procedure worked the best. It is more labor-intensive yet effective.
 Carolina geranium (Geranium carolinianum), also known as cranesbill because of its profusion of half-inch beaks after flowering, is a very dainty and pretty weed when it is young. The palmate leaves are lacy, fern-like, with hairy petiole stalks and tiny five-petaled pink flowers.
 For the first month, after it sprouts, it resembles a ground cover. As the weather warms, it seeks the sunlight while branching out two feet or more. The seed has a hard core which allows it to withstand a long dormancy in the soil. Carolina geranium is not edible, but its roots, considered anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and astringent, are used as an external medicinal herb to stop bleeding and as a gargle for sore throats. Hand pulling while it is still young is the best control method.
 Black medic (Medicago lupulina), also known as yellow trefoil or hop medic, is a broadleaf plant that looks like clover with yellow flowers. It establishes itself in areas that have endured drought, in disturbed soils, or those in need of increased irrigation. As a legume, it fixes its own nitrogen which helps it to overcome lawn grasses in nutrient-poor soils. When the flowers mature, they form a black seedpod which lends itself to the name. A friend of mine informed me about its nutritional value as an herb. In Mexico, black medic is highly desired as an edible green and is expensive to buy. The leaves are bitter when eaten raw, but when cooked, taste like spinach or collards with a high amount of protein and fiber. It does have antibacterial qualities and is also considered a mild laxative. Bees are attracted to this plant. It makes marvelous green manure. To control black medic, it is critical to hand-weed making sure to pull out the taproot.
 Many of the hillsides are experiencing a super bloom of California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) mixed with purple vetch. Having grown up with these beautiful orange globes and vetch, when I witness them growing as natives, I am overjoyed by nature’s jewelry. California poppies are the state flower of California. Purple vetch, also known as American vetch (Vicia americana) or hairy vetch, is a native nitrogen-fixing cover crop that our family used to feed our cattle on our ranch. It is considered a weed, but I think of it as a valuable wildflower because it is great fodder for wildlife while adding biomass to the soil. The plant attracts beneficial insects to the garden and the flowers entice bees. Growing alongside vegetables, it acts as a living mulch. Vetch is a climber to about two feet and spreads through rhizomes. To control it, cut and leave on the surface of the soil to suppress other weeds. Native Americans consumed vetch as a food and used it for poultices.
 Make sure to consult a medical professional before consuming or externally applying any plant that you are unfamiliar with. Although many plants are herbs and helpful, individuals could have conditions that could make ingesting or topically using the plant reactive and dangerous.
 Once you’ve managed the weeds, you will enjoy the bounty of blooms erupting in our neighborhoods. Lilacs, wisteria, hyacinths, tulips, bluebells, calendulas, freesias, Chinese fringe flowers, Dutch iris, bearded iris, Santa Barbara daisies, osteospermum, azaleas, camellias, jasmine, redbud, and even roses are bursting with color. (Make sure to pick up fallen camellias to maintain the health of your shrub.) Fruit trees continue their parade of blossoms including cherry, apple, pear, crabapple and Asian pear.
 The grass is green, the weather is mild, and our gardens are the place where we can unwind and connect with the magical natural world. Celebrate Earth Day on April 22 and nurture our planet by protecting and appreciating our natural environment. Recycle, reuse, repurpose, reduce. Weed, seed, feed.
 Your home will shine with Mother Nature’s colorful plant jewelry.

 PLANT SALE: The Orinda Garden Club is holding a plant sale on April 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Orinda Library Plaza with members propagated plants plus over 30 varieties of tomato seeds, a Firewise demonstration table, and a garden marketplace. The event will be socially distanced and well-spaced outdoors throughout the Orinda Library Plaza. Look for your special seedlings at this local plant sale. Proceeds will benefit educational projects.
 Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.
A favorite of the April garden, wisteria springs into bloom. Photo Cynthia Brian
After the wind, the camellia blooms carpet the ground and must be removed. Photo Cynthia Brian
The pretty palmate leaves and pink buds of Carolina geranium weed look like a ground cover. Photo Cynthia Brian
The hillside is a bit barren after the weeds have been pulled. Photo Cynthia Brian
The clover-like tendrils of Black medic weed entwine around the Naked Lady fronds.
Without enriched soil, thistles and other weeds thrive.
A hillside of California poppies and purple vetch look like Impressionistic art.
Gorgeous lilacs perfume the garden.
The delicate orange petals of a California poppy are elegant.
Cynthia Brian reminds gardeners to pick up fallen camellia flowers to avoid disease to the mother tree.
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!r 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyler 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. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD. Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures. Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com



The Magic of May By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
The Magic of May By Cynthia Brian

The Magic of May

By Cynthia Brian

“Harmony makes small things grow.
Lack of it makes big things decay.” Sallust

By mid May Mother Nature has waved her magical wand sprinkling glitter and glory among her growing children. No matter where you look, shrubs, trees, and landscapes showcase a beauty and harmony that set this month apart from the remaining eleven. Herbaceous peonies are budding and will bloom for weeks offering outstanding companionship to mixed perennial gardens. Glorious bouquets of roses decorate pathways and arbors. Fields of bearded iris brighten the most mundane areas with their multitude of colors, gentle fragrance, and graceful arches. Horse chestnut, buckeye, and locust trees are overflowing with grape-like bunches of blooms. Get up close to examine the intricacies of their flowers.

The warmer weather has sped up the blooming season while only a month earlier the cooler weather slowed it down. My waves of bright blue forget-me-nots have settled into a sea of seeds that attach to any clothing that ventures near easily spreading the flowers to places unplanned. Along the creek beds, even the poisonous hemlock weeds sprouted several feet taller than in previous years with attractive clusters of flowers resembling Queen Anne’s lace. Tiny Alpine strawberries are red, ripe, and delicious as snacks or in salads. Better to eat these than any store-bought strawberry. Thanks to the unparalleled Pearl’s Premium grass seeds, my lawn has never looked so lush and lovely. If you want turf that is tough, drought resistant, low maintenance, and beautiful, start thinking now about preparing your ground for an autumn seeding of Pearl’s Premium. (www.PearlsPremium.com)

The Old Farmer’s Almanac recently contacted a colleague garden writer asking about what tools, products, and plants gardeners sought most this year. She posted a request for suggestions on our member community site and I reveled in the answers that I believe resonate with you, my garden guide readers. Here’s my abbreviated version of what we gardeners want.
1. We crave information that we can use on a daily basis.
2. We want to grow our own food for better nutrition and first-rate freshness.
3. We want to save money.
4. We want to bring pollinators into our gardens for an organically friendly habitat. We are putting out the welcome mat for birds, bees, butterflies, and bats.
5. We want to reduce waste by composting more.
6. We want tools that are sturdy, long lasting, yet not exorbitantly expensive.
7. We want to explore simpler to use, more environmentally friendly power tools that are battery powered and strong.
8. We want space saving ideas including container and vertical gardening techniques.
9. We want to learn to prune properly.
10. We want low maintenance, native alternatives, and drought resistant plants.
11. We want to ENJOY our garden rooms!

The wants of the national garden community echo locally as well. My promise to you is to continue to bring you the latest tools, tips, and tricks that will make your garden experience extraordinary.

CLEAN and DIRTY PRODUCE

In my opinion, one of the main reasons to grow your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs is to know what is in your soil and on your plants. The USDA discovered 178 different pesticides on sample produce this year with the residue persisting even after the produce was thoroughly washed. Strawberries topped the list with over 20 different pesticides, one of the main reasons I grow my own strawberries and Alpine berries.

The cleanest and therefore the healthiest produce included:
1. Corn,
2. Avocadoes
3. Pineapples
4. Cabbage
5. Onions
6. Peas
7. Papaya
8. Asparagus
9. Mangoes
10. Eggplant
11. Honeydew Melons
12. Kiwis
13. Cantaloupe
14. Cauliflower
15. Grapefruit

Pesticide residues are extremely rare on “The Clean Fifteen” so these are items that we can buy and serve without worry.

Known as “the Dirty Dozen” here’s a list of the worst produce culprits you can purchase:
1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Nectarines
4. Apples
5. Peaches
6. Celery
7. Grapes
8. Pears
9. Cherries
10. Tomatoes
11. Bell Peppers
12. Potatoes

Sadly, all of these fruits and vegetables are family favorites and generally considered to be healthy. Luckily we can easily grow all of these and if you don’t want to grow your own, make sure to buy organic.

Speaking of dirty, let’s get really dirty! In a year when we are finally out of a drought, reservoirs are filled to capacity and overflowing, EBMUD wants to raise our rates for both water and wastewater services! If you received a notice of a public hearing from the East Bay Municipal Utility District, read it carefully. Write a protest letter to let EBMUD know that you do not want higher rates. Send to EBMUD, MS218, PO Box 24055, Oakland, Ca. 94623-1055 or you can protest in person on Tuesday, June 13 at 1:15pm at 375 11th Street, Oakland, Ca. 94607.

I am vehemently opposed to another water hike when we have all been so diligent in saving and conserving water for the past several years. Our water rates are already untenable. Let EBMUD know you are against all rate increases. Give us a break, EBMUD!

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Tips

⎫ TUNE UP your irrigation system. Check for sprinklers that aren’t working, bushes or fences that are blocking sprinkler heads, broken pipes, clogged nozzles, leaky hoses and valves, and sprinklers that are spraying driveways and walkways.

⎫ MULCH for water retention and weed prevention. Three inches is recommended. Your soil will improve over time as well.

⎫ TAKE breaks while gardening to protect your back and knees.

⎫ PLANT summer blooming bulbs and seeds. There are over one hundred different choices of bulbs and two hundred perennials.

⎫ IMPROVE memory, lower cancer risk, and promote your heart health by planting a container of blueberries. Easy to grow as a patio plant, one serving provides 25% of your daily Vitamin C requirement.

⎫ WIN $50,000 for your Garden:  As a judge in America’s Best Gardener Contest. I encourage you to enter your best garden photo. The top prize is $50,000.  http://www.americasbestgardener.com

Avoid decay and continue the harmony every day. Enjoy the magic of May. Have a magnificent Memorial Day weekend, too!

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1106/Digging-Deep-The-Magic-of-May.html

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

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

May Play By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
May Play By Cynthia Brian

“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.” Rachel Carson

The intoxicating waft of sweet jasmine filled my nostrils as I opened my front door and stepped onto the porch. Droplets of rain still clung to the leaves of the Japanese maple while the bright orb of sunshine broke through the cumulus clouds encouraging the clematis to reveal their splendor.

May! Magnificent May!

Between the copious showers and the solar assistance, spring is alive and lush with the grandeur of flora. My entire garden is bursting with surprises of color, textures, and forms. Plants are sprouting that I thought had long ago failed. The orchard trees are abundant with the tiny beginnings of the luscious fruit that will ripen in summer and fall. Scampering from branch to branch, squirrels entertain while stealing the bright orange loquats in their harried feeding frenzy. Birds, lizards, frogs, spiders, and other garden collaborators are active in their pursuit of the bounty of the month.

Yet, alas, weeds, weeds, everywhere. I spent every weekend in April in addition to hours daily before and after work pulling, composting, pulling, composting, pulling, and composting. The good news is that the soil is amenable, and although tedious and exhausting, I am able to pull most of these grasses and undesirables by hand. After all of my April preparations, including soil amending, I am finally ready for May planting. Seeds have been carefully sown for okra, beets, carrots, jalapenos, arugula, pole beans, bush beans, rattlesnake beans, peas, chard, corn, pumpkin, cucumber, a variety of lettuces, greens, and kohlrabi. On Mother’s Day I’ll plant seedlings of tomatoes, eggplant, and squash. I am excited to tend to this living family of friends.

When I was a child, this was my most favorite time of the year (Christmas excepted) because we were able to dig in the dirt, plant our vegetable garden, and moreover, savor the succulent smells of the soil of spring. When my children were young, getting them involved in the outdoor projects was paramount. Invite your children to plant a garden with you. Kids love getting dirty. We were told that we had “clean dirt” because after a day in the garden our bodies and clothes were washed. (My Mom used to brush us off with a broom, too!) Children will be fascinated with worms, bugs, frogs, and lizards. Gardening together forms family bonds with memories that will last forever, as you witness mine have.  We were given our own plot of land to grow whatever we wanted and I did the same for my kids. My son’s name remains on the gate where he began his “Veggie Garden”. Suggest that your child grow a pizza garden filled with tomatoes, peppers, onions, basil, and oregano or maybe a butterfly and bee heaven where pollinators will gather. Think easy to grow plants such as lavender, sunflowers, or poppies.

Make sure to spray yourself and your clothing with bug repellent. Ticks are ubiquitous this season hiding in the tall grass and shrubs just waiting to jump onto a heart healthy human and start the blood sucking. Mosquito larvae are already hatching. With all of the rain, get ready for mosquito madness. Scour your property for the tiniest accumulation of water in a container and dump it out. Old tires are notorious breeders of mosquitoes as water gets trapped in the inner rims and the larvae multiply and hatch quickly.

Spring is healing. It’s new birth. It’s a refresher course on living. Step outside your front door. Inhale the fragrance. Observe the beauty. Then get into your garden for a day of play. Hurray for May!

Cynthia Brian’s Goddess Gardener Tips for May

DIVIDE perennials, especially those that will bloom in autumn such as sedum and chrysanthemum.  Dig up the clumps , pull apart, and replant in other areas.

TRANSPLANT shrubs, trees, and other plants that you want in other places in your garden.  Make sure to get as much of the root ball as possible when digging, replant immediately. Water thoroughly.

PLANT okra, beans, watermelon, cucumbers, corn, amaranth, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, pumpkin, and whatever you love to eat.

REMOVE the bulbs from the potted gifts of narcissus, tulip, hyacinth, or Easter lilies that you received in April after the blooms and foliage die back and plant in your garden. You’ll be thrilled next year when the blooms and the reminiscences of the giver rekindle joy in your heart.

ADD nitrogen and organic matter while building the quality of the soil with a cover crop leaving no bare soil.  Radish, cowpea, sunflower, oats, and flax will provide lovely cut flowers, and prevent erosion until you are ready to plant something else for the summer.

USE the best tools possible for your gardening chores to save time and labor. A strong and well made hoe, spade, shovel, pick, pruning saw, pruning shears, hand trowel, and rake are essentials that when maintained properly will last for many years.  Recommend buying construction grade tools instead of just garden tools.

PRE-ORDER my forthcoming garden book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, Book I in the Garden Shorts Series. Publishing was delayed in April but will be ready for May. All pre-orders will receive extra goodies such as heirloom seeds, bookmarks, and more. Email me for details, Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com. 25% of the proceeds benefit the 501c3 Be the Star You Are!® charity. http://goddessgardener.com/books

Win $50,000 for your Garden:  As a judge in America’s Best Gardener Contest. I encourage you to enter to win $50,000.  Show the world that your thumb is the greenest by showing the world pictures of your garden today! http://www.americasbestgardener.com

PLAN to attend the Orinda Garden Club Tour on May 11 where five Orinda and Lafayette gardens will showcase their spectacular outdoor living settings. Get inspired for spring. http://www.orindagc.ord/tour2017.

PAY your water bill with your credit card and accumulate those airline and hotel miles. EBMUD only charges an additional $1.99.  Best deal!

EMPTY all outdoor vessels of standing water. Even a teacup saucer will breed mosquitoes.

VISIT the Be the Star You Are!® booth at the Moraga Faire on Saturday, May 13th between 11-4pm to get a bag of complimentary spring potpourri. Bring your gardening questions and I’ll be there to answer them. www.BetheStarYouAre.org/events

INVITE your Mother for a day of garden strolling. Visit the Botanical Gardens in San Francisco (http://www.sfbotanicalgarden.org) or go on a hike on your favorite trail.

Looking forward to seeing you at the 11th Annual Moraga Faire. Let’s talk about play in May.  My sincerest wishes for a Happy Mother’s Day to every Mom in our community. You are love and are loved.

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1105/Gardening-Guide-Hurray-for-May.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
Available for hire for any project.
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR

Purple Reign! By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Purple Reign! By Cynthia Brian

“God gets mad if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”  Alice Walker, The Color Purple

As I amble through my April garden, I know that God is very happy! Purple, the color of royalty, wisdom, and luxury is favored in the majority of my botanical blooms.  The nobility of the season is highlighted with the elegantly perfumed lilac, the scented grace of cascading wisteria, and the pride of the dark and handsome hellebore as it changes from its deep shaded amethyst of winter to the violet and chartreuse of spring. Bees are swarming, sucking the sweet nectar from the fragrant flowers of lavender, freesia, and the Chinese fringe.  Shades of indigo, mauve, and sangria pepper the landscape offering a powerful presence yet calming expression.

Purple bearded iris and Dutch iris tender their brilliance in the middle of the weed filled hillside where Jerusalem star, also known as goat’s beard thrive. Bulbs and rhizomes are the ultimate VIP’s of my garden. Once planted, I forget about them until they burst into bloom, a welcome surprise especially when other plants are failing.  If you are a beginner gardener, I highly recommend indulging in bulbs for all seasons. Most require little maintenance and effort with minimal water while providing maximum results. Some of my perennial favorites that are available in hues of purple include calla lily, gladiolus, oriental lily, bearded iris, Asiatic lily, dahlia, anemone, and naked lady.

I love the color purple and have dedicated this month to everything purple.  If you’d like to bring a bit more of the richness of purple into your outdoors, I recommend checking out a few of these favorite cultivars.

Agastache Violet Vision
Aquilegia Swan Lavender
Aster Kickin’ Purple
Astilbe Purple Candles
Azalea
Buddelia Miss  Violet
Campanula Milan Lilac
Chinese Fringe Plant
Clematis Jackmanii
Delphinium Pagan Purples
Digitalis Sugar Plum
Echinacea Magnus
Freesia
Hellebore Dark and Handsome
Hemerocallis Black Stockings
Heuchera Fire Alarm
Hollyhock Crème de Cassis
Hydrangea Let’s Dance Rave
Iris Superstition
Liatris
Lantana
Lavender
Lilac
Monarda Piurple Rooster
Nepeta Little Trudy
Purple Potato Vine
Phlox Laura
Prunella Puprle Daze
Rose Angel Face
Rhododendron
Salvia May Night
Society Garlic
Sea Foam Statice
Tulips (Black Parrot or Victoria’s Secret)
Veronica Hocus Pocus
Wisteria

Ask your nursery if they carry inventory from Bluestone Perennials, Brent and Becky’s, White Flower Farm, and Proven Winners. While perusing the gardens, buy petunias, pansies, zinnias, and other annuals in the hues that will brighten your landscape.

“Purple haze, all in my brain
Lately things they don’t seem the same
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
Excuse me while I kiss the sky!” Jimi Hendrix
I am kissing the sky with joy for spring. Get your purple haze on!


Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for April

SPLASH your barbecue grill with white vinegar then scrub with half an onion to clean the grates and get ready for outside dining.

BUFF your garden tools by plunging them in a five-gallon bucket of sand mixed with a cup of vegetable oil. The sand will keep them sharper and the oil wards off rust. Small hand tools can be stored in the sand bucket.

PLANT frost tender plants as the weather warms towards the end of the month. Ground covers, citrus, bougainvillea, and summer annuals are available for purchase.

SOW seeds of scarlet runner bean, sweet peas, or morning glories to climb on fences and wire.

RESIST cutting back the dying leaves of narcissi and daffodils. The frongs are gathering their nutrition for next year’s blooms. Cut them back only when as dry as potato chips.

BAIT the snails and slugs, pick them off by hand, use copper barriers, or bowls of beer. These slimy crawlers will devour new seedlings.

BUY ladybugs from your nursery or garden center if you see aphids or other pests on your plants. Remember ladybugs fly to infested gardens.

VISIT the Be the Star You Are!® booth at the Moraga Faire on Saturday, May 13th between 11-4pm to get a bag of complimentary spring potpourri. Bring your gardening questions and I’ll be there to answer them. www.BetheStarYouAre.org/events

SELECT appropriate plants in one or two gallon pots for your shade garden. Smaller sizes don’t root as quickly. Hostas, ferns, vinca minor, anemones, begonias, and impatiens mingle beautifully without much sunlight.

PLANT purple anything this spring and be delighted all year.

WEED, weed, weed. Because of the heavy rains this year, weeds are ubiquitous, yet easy to pull. If they don’t have seed heads, add to your compost pile.

PRE-ORDER my forthcoming garden book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, Book I in the Garden Shorts Series. All pre-orders will receive extra goodies such as heirloom seeds, bookmarks, and more. Email me for details, Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com. 25% of the proceeds benefit the 501c3 Be the Star You Are!® charity.

Win $50,000 for your Garden:  As a judge in America’s Best Gardener Contest. I encourage you to enter your best garden photo. The top prize is $50,000.  http://www.americasbestgardener.com

BUY a beautiful potted purple lavender plant to show your love for your Mother or anyone’s Mom’s on Mother’s Day.

A heartfelt shout out to every Mom! You are the nurturers and our teachers. Happy Mother’s Day! Let it rain purple.

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Read more at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1104/Digging-Deep-Color-me-purple.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
Available for hire for any project.
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR

Grow Grass! By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Grow Grass! By Cynthia Brian

“Now every field is clothed with grass, and every tree with leaves; now the woods put forth their blossoms, and the year assumes its gay attire.” ~Virgil


Yes, California passed Proposition 64 last November, however, this column is not about cultivating marijuana, although I am writing about the glories of grass.

Spring is spectacular with its wardrobe of rainbow blooms. Trees are covered with blossoms, the fragrance of freesia engages our nostrils, and the ubiquitous beauty surrounding us is awe-inspiring. We are so blessed that Mother Nature celebrates the re-birth of the seasons with a grand April entrance.

Because of the warmer soil, fall is the best time to plant or re-seed a lawn, yet spring runs a close second in popularity. If you haven’t torn out your swath of grass in the past few years during our dreadful drought, no doubt you are now looking at a runway of green in your yard thanks to the months of rain. To manage your efforts maintaining the health, beauty, and benefits of your lawn for the remainder of the year, get started this month with simple best practices.

Tips to Growing a Lush, Green, Sustainable Turf

⎫ Decide if you want to seed, sod, or re-seed. Seeding for the first time is best done in autumn when the soil is warm as germination is swifter. You can successfully re-seed, over-seed, and sod in spring, including those irksome bare patches.

⎫ Whichever you choose, your first consideration is to properly prepare your soil.  Check the PH level. Ideally lawns should be in the 6-7 range. If lower than six, add lime, if higher than seven, add sulfur to bring the PH down.

⎫ Pull the weeds. If you have lots of weeds, keep in mind that weeds mean that the soil conditions are imbalanced. Weeds provide homes and food for microbes but your soil must be improved before your new sod or grass seeds will thrive. Many “weeds” are actually gourmet dinner or tea ingredients including plantain, dandelion, creeping Charlie, mint, mustard, lambs quarter, and more.

⎫ Order several yards of enriched soil and compost to be delivered.  Ask the yard experts what is their best soil for improving your lawn. Soil is the foundation.

⎫ Add organic fertilizer to accelerate deeper rooting.

⎫ Aerate to loosen the soil. A core aerator will punch holes in the ground to bring air and water to the roots.  The finger plugs are to be left on the surface to naturally decompose.  Less compaction equals better drainage and absorption.

⎫ Consult your favorite nursery professional for a recommendation on the best seed combinations for you. I’m a huge fan of mixed growth lawns for year around enjoyment. I re-seed with Pearl’s Premium (www.PearlsPremium.com) interspersed with plugs of isotoma (blue star creeper) and white and red clover. Together they make a very attractive natural rug and the clover is a natural nitrogen supplier. Some people enjoy lawns laced with wild strawberry, violets, mint, or even planted with bulbs.

⎫ You may have to cover re-seeded areas with netting to keep the birds away. For small areas, discarded window or door screens work well.

⎫ Let the rainfall do the watering to get your grass established. If it’s later in the season when the rain has stopped, water deeply in the morning twice a week or as needed.

⎫ Mow your lawns with a sharp blade on a high setting without the bag allowing the cut grass to remain on the lawn. This is called grasscycling and is the most beneficial component of cultivating a lush, deep green, thick healthy lawn. If you are buying a new mower, buy a mulch mower, which will chop the grass. Grasscycling allows the clippings to be the fertilizer that provides nutrients to your grass. Scientific research indicates that the content of typical grass clippings by weight is Nitrogen (N) 4%, Potassium (P) 2%, and Phosphorous (K) .5%.  By recycling your grass clippings back to your lawn, you use 25% less additional fertilizer.

⎫ Mulch the re-seeded areas to create a strong turf.

⎫ Stay off the grass while it’s growing!

⎫ For those of you who are “Ex Lawn Rangers”, you can create an inviting mosaic with massed groundcovers and low growers including dicondra, ajuga, creeping thyme, golden creeping Jenny, dwarf cinquefoil, or even sedum.  You’ll need to clip, snip, and maintain.  Most groundcovers are not foot-traffic friendly.

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 when viewing a landscape, offering a resting space between the color explosions of flowers and shrubs. Lawns offer a buffer zone in fire prevention. Several years ago when one of the biggest wild fires in our national history hit the forests of Northern California, our family cabin’s grassy meadow became the safe zone for dozens of firefighters from around the country. That lawn literally saved lives and the forest from the raging blaze.

Prepare your grass for healthy growing this spring, and get ready for the fun-filled days of croquet, ball games, picnics, sprinkler baths, or just staring up at the clouds.

Remember that maintaining your lawn enhances the environment, improves your health, and optimizes your enjoyment of the great outdoors. And that’s great grass!

Cynthia Brian’s Goddess Gardener Tips for April

BEWARE of ticks.  Check your body, hair, and clothing after gardening. On a rainy day in mid March when I was covered head to toe in clothing, a tick bit me on my neck. The golf ball size lump is still painful.

TURN houseplants a quarter round every week to give adequate amount of sunlight to all parts.

BAIT for snails and slugs.

VISIT the Wagner Ranch Wildlife Festival on Sunday, April 23 for FREE family fun. Honeybees, goats, turtles, birds, garden activities, food, music, nature tours, arts, and crafts.  350 Camino Pablo Rd at Bear Creek Road in Orinda.  https://fwrna.org/wildlifefest/

Peruse Flower Photography: Award winning photographer Anne Morrison Rabe’s Spring Flowers exhibit is showcased now at Homemade Kitchen, 337 Rheem Boulevard, in Moraga.  Almost all of Anne’s photographs were shot with an iphone. Eat, drink, and enjoy the art.www.Amr-Photogrpahy.com

PRE-ORDER my forthcoming garden book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, Book I in the Garden Shorts Series. All pre-orders will receive extra goodies such as heirloom seeds, bookmarks, and more. Email me for details, Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com. 25% of the proceeds benefit the 501c3 Be the Star You Are!® charity.

Win $50,000 for your Garden:  As a judge in America’s Best Gardener Contest. I encourage you to enter to win $50,000.  Show the world that your thumb is the greenest by showing the world pictures of your garden today! http://www.americasbestgardener.com

Happy Gardening! Happy Growing!

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©2017
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

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