Home Grown Summer
"Flowers and fruit are only the beginning. In the seed lies the life and the future." -- Marion Zimmer Bradley, Fruit, luscious, juicy, tantalizing ripe fruit! There is no better nor satisfying delicacy than the fruit you grow in your own backyard. Whether it’s a pot or a plot, growing your own is the way to rock it! With our long warm summer days at their height, fruit and vegetables are ripening quickly awaiting plucking for our feasts. Apricots, plums, prunes, mulberries, loquats, tangelos, and tangerines are just a few of the gems hanging from my trees right now. Soon there will be mouth-watering peaches, pears, apples, guavas, nectarines, and figs. Tomatoes have taken up the space left by harvested greens, while beans, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatillos are racing to the finish line. It’s a virtual Farmer’s Market in my garden and this is exactly the way I like to eat. Every day I walk into my potager to fill baskets with crunchy deliciousness for our supper. I never know what I’ll be creating in the kitchen until I see what’s ready to harvest. I continue to sprinkle lettuce and arugula seeds in the empty spaces to extend my summer, fall and winter crops. My recommendation is to sow rows of bush beans, carrots, and radishes or any other vegetable every three weeks to satisfy your cravings for freshness. Remember to continue to replenish the soil with nutrient rich compost to keep productivity high. Did you know that that average home gardener only spends $359 per year on gardening supplies and plants as reported in a study conducted by Money.com? That seems ridiculously low when you consider that growing your own tomatoes will save you an average $9.50, cucumbers $8.00, peppers $3.60, green beans $2.50, and carrots $3.50. And that doesn’t include the spectacular taste, increased vitamins, and the fact that you actually know what you put into your soil! When it comes to homegrown fruits and vegetables, I am a garden to table snob. The finest, healthiest, most cost efficient source of nutrients is waiting for you in the garden. Dig in! With the barbeque season in full swing, delight guests with grilled stone fruit. Cut peaches, nectarines, or apricots in half, remove the pit, brush with olive oil and drizzle a bit of honey. Grill for a minute or two on each side. Serve with goat cheese, arugula, or as a side dish. Fresh, surprising, and oh, so delicious…a burst of sweetness with your 4th of July fare. About those pits…if you want another fruit tree, plant in potting soil in a container and watch the new life grow. It’s hang time. Cynthia Brian’s Fresh Ideas for July MULCH before the heat of summer begins. If you can use an entire truck-load of wood chips, tree service companies are happy to give you free chips. Mulching keeps the soil cooler while decreasing the weed population. COMBINE arugula, mint, and sage in a food processor with a splash of olive oil and pepper for a mouth-watering variation on traditional pesto. Add the grated cheese of your choice to use over pastas, in soups, or whirled in an omelet. HYDRATE yourself with fruits from the garden including watermelon, peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, and corn. A slice of watermelon provides you with at least ten ounces of water while a medium peach will give you five ounces of H20. RELIEVE anxiety and stress by cutting a bouquet of lavender, then crushing the flowers in your palms. Inhale the healing fragrance before bed for a restful slumber. WATCH for snakes! Gopher snakes and King snakes have been slithering through my grass. Don’t be alarmed, snakes eradicate rodents including gophers, moles, rats, and mice. SHOWCASE your horticultural talents by mixing textures, colors, and sizes in your garden, always being away of water, sunlight, and soil PH needs. A lemon-lime nandina paired with a black adder phormium and a purple salvia are spectacular bedmates. PEPPER your garden by throwing seeds of Love in a Mist and California poppies. The colors look smashing together and both re-seed. Plus Love in a Mist seedpods make fantastic dried flowers. WANT a lush landscape? Embrace the beauty of leaves. Foliage plants have dramatic impact, especially when grouped together. Hosta, heuchera, coleus, and variegated plants are showstoppers, specifically in shaded areas. PLANT gladioli bulbs for summer drama with long stalks of trumpet shaped florets that are considered hummingbird heaven. COVER an unsightly fence with clematis. Read the tags to learn the correct sun exposure, then let the explosion of blooms blow your mind. Clematis make great cut flowers too. TUCK succulents in between other plantings. Most succulents shoot up spires of blooms as an added bonus. Of course, succulents are very drought tolerant and an excellent choice for our gardens. To get a better idea of the variety of succulents that fare well in our area, visit The Ruth Bancroft Gardens in Walnut Creek. http://www.ruthbancroftgarden.org GRILL vegetables (as well as stone fruit) on the barbecue. A variety of zucchini, peppers, and corn are always excellent choices. Don’t shuck the husks on the corn to keep the nutrients and flavor inside. Slip basil or cilantro inside for added flavor. THINK about what bulbs and rhizomes you will want to buy to plant in the fall. Do you want more daffodils, tulips, Dutch iris, anemones, or something more exotic? Catalogues are a great way to get your lists started. THANKS to everyone who has emailed me with positive notes about these columsn. I do appreciate all of my readers and want you to be the best gardeners ever! CELEBRATE the Fourth of July by dressing up in your sparkly red, white, and blue to HANG out in your personal paradise. Let the fireworks fly! Happy 240th Independence Day. Happy gardening. Happy growing! See more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1009/Digging-Deep-Have-a-Homegrown-Fourth-of-July-This-Summer.html Press Pass: http://vapresspass.com/2016/06/30/hang-time-by-cynthia-brian/ ©2016 Cynthia Brian The Goddess Gardener Starstyle® Productions, llc Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com www.GoddessGardener.com 925-377-STAR Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com Garden and plant consultations by appointment. ‘keywords:4th of july, independence day garden, stone fruit on the barbecue, pick fruit, succulents, july gardening, clematis, king snakes, mulch, gladioli, hosts, sweet potato vine, hummingbirds, goddess gardener, cynthia brian, starstyle, be the star you are, empowerment TWITTER: Does your garden need some summer loving? Tips for lawns, bugs, seeds, and harvests with Goddess Gal, Cynthia Brian. http://ow.ly/GCGa301iG6R DD 6/16 katie, wixcb, podbean, starlady, wixbtsya, tumblr G, wixradio, digg, webstarts, scribd, wattpad, openlearning, Digging Deep with Cynthia Brian By Cynthia Brian Summer Love! “It’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” Marilyn Monroe. What a difference a week makes! Our weather went from cool, drizzly, and overcast to three digit temperatures in less than seven days. Our emerald green hills metamorphosed into golden grasslands seemingly overnight. Mother Nature is preparing us for the forthcoming summer solstice. Pool parties, barbecues, and kids playing outside portend a pleasant June. How wonderful it is to sit in a comfortable chaise on the patio on a warm evening admiring the landscape and the stars. Welcome to blooms in June! I was delighted to have my daughter, Heather (yes, named after the flower), spend a couple of weeks with me recently. The first words out of her mouth as she walked into the garden were “Mom, your landscape looks like a scene from Alice in Wonderland. It’s so colorful, bold, beautiful.” Indeed, my garden is a riot of hues with roses, gladiolas, lilies, love in the mist, calendulas, clematis, petunias, dahlias, hibiscus, geraniums, pelargoniums, calla lilies, nasturtiums, butterfly bush, guavas, daisies, poppies, osteospermum, chamomile, salvias, lavender, numerous herbs, and flowering succulents. Many of the blooms are edible, gracing my salads, sauces, and stir-fry. There is no mystery to incorporating some summer loving into your garden. My secret sauce is to plant a plethora of perennials and bulbs enhanced by color spots of annuals augmented by shrubs that bloom, trees that bear fruit, with edibles everywhere. Add your unique creative artistry to create your personalized haven and voila! Instant success, year after year. The elements you must consider whenever you are planting perennials or any plant are soil, light, moisture needs, climate, colors, and plant qualities. Once you know what you like, you can layer your landscape to attract the pollinators, birds, and wildlife, all the while being water conscientious and employing practical earth stewardship. Butterflies are everywhere and the hummingbirds are the happiest I’ve witnessed in years flitting from blossom to blossom with stops at the fountain for a quick drink. Hummingbirds have long memories and when you feed them they will return year after year, even migrating over 4000 miles to get to their preferred gardens. Favorite sources of food for hummingbirds include the bright colored blossoms of penstemon, columbine, agastache, monarda, salvia, fire poker, heuchera, rosemary, honeysuckle, fuchsia, and any throated vine. Don’t forget to add a gurgling water source where they will entertain you with their bathing and sipping antics. Before hitting store shelves, fruits, and vegetables travel an average of 1500 miles, reducing quality, nutrition, and taste. To increase flavor and boost the health of your family, introduce vegetables, herbs, and fruits into your organic gardening practice. Buy four-inch pots to gallon containers of tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, eggplants, and whatever else you find at your local retailer to enhance your barbecues and patio parties. You don’t need a formal vegetable garden. Just tuck plants between your perennials in a place that is easily accessible to your kitchen for easy plucking. Be whimsical. Have some fun. Do as my daughter did and plant basil in a boot, thyme in a wine box, or green onions in a clear jam jar filled with water. Who doesn’t love walking barefoot in the grass on a warm summer day? Because of water restrictions, many people have allowed their lawns to die back or have replaced them with native and drought resistant plantings. If you don’t have a lawn, your barefooting may have to take place in one of the parks or golf links. The Pearl’s Premium grass seed that I sowed earlier in the spring is proving to be quite excellent. Although it is not the lush deep green it was during the rainy days, it has remained a lighter jade color with a watering schedule of every five days, albeit with a few brown spots where the sprinkler missed. To walk on it is heavenly as it is very thick and carpet-like. Weeds are minimal and mowing is currently once a week. As the hot weather increases, I’ll be watching closely for its drought resistant tendencies. Thus far, I am very pleased and will over-seed again in fall to enhance the lawn. If your favorite retailer doesn’t carry the seed, Pearl’s Premium is available on-line at www.PearlsPremium.com. Lawns are the best places for children, cartwheels and croquet. Summer is almost here and I am definitely in love with the season. Add summer loving to your garden and be anything but boring! Share the love. Be ridiculous! Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Fresh Garden Tips TRY something new. How about growing blueberries? Find a spot with six hours of sunshine, amend the soil to make it more acidic (blueberries like a PH of 4.5 to 5.5), protect the bush from the hungry birds, harvest for your breakfast and snacks. ASK questions from gardeners you admire or at your local nursery for tips you can implement. HANG a hammock or two between trees or posts for a cozy place to relax, unwind, and read a good book. Pretend you are on a holiday. PLANT a pollinator garden. It’s good for the birds, bees, butterflies, moths, and healthy flies as well as the garden and you. OPEN your nature medicine cabinet this summer. Apply aloe on sunburns instead of buying a bottle of burn ointment. Spread honey on cuts and scrapes to reduce healing time. Honey boasts anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. CONCOCT a cocktail with fennel, mint, dill, cucumber, and edible flowers from your garden. Wow your friends with your unique creations. PLAN ahead for bulbs for fall. Check out catalogs and garden magazines for new releases. CUT an armful of flowers for beautiful bouquets or arrangements. Perennials will re-bloom. GET creative with plant markers by using wooden clothespins, utensils, or other items headed for the trash. PICK plums, apricots, cherries, mulberries, and loquats. PULL out errant blackberry bushes you find growing in your garden. Blackberry plants multiply quickly and will overrun your garden. Buy a thorn-less variety and keep it contained. PROTECT your plants from deer, rabbits, and gophers with wire, fencing, or organic sprays. LOWER your stress level by sniffing citrus-oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and tangerines. REPEL mosquitoes and other pesky bugs by placing sage and rosemary on the barbecue. The smoke keeps the insects away. SOW sweet potato eyes and eat the greens while they are maturing. DEADHEAD spent perennial blossoms and rose blooms weekly to encourage continuous blooms. Happy Gardening and Happy Growing! Read More: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1008/Digging-Deep-Give-Your-Gardens-Some-Summer-Love.html ©2016 Cynthia Brian The Goddess Gardener Starstyle® Productions, llc Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com www.GoddessGardener.com 925-377-STAR Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com Garden and plant consultations by appointment.