Week 40 Tips for the Zone 9 Garden

I spent last night with a 43 year old friend that just survived a massive heart attack!  Things like this kind of stop me in my tracks and make me re-evaluate the important things in life.  While I am definitely going to do some gardening this weekend, I think I will spend a lot more time than usual smelling the flowers!  Our weather woman told me that this is going to be a great weekend to be outside.  With highs in the low 80s it will be a great time to do some of the more labor intensive tasks that you have been putting off.  Below are some of the things you can do in your garden this weekend.


Fava beans are a cool season crop that can be planted from now until around Thanksgiving.


  • Start preparing for spring – Traditional gardeners can plant all year round with little preparation. By applying commercial fertilizers they can give their plants whatever food they need whenever they need it.  Organic gardeners don’t have it so easy.  Rich organic soil takes time to build.  I generally leave a few rows unplanted in the fall garden.  I add compost and till it in just like usual, but I do not plant in it.  Instead I cover with leaves and a heavy layer of mulch.  The leaves attract the earth worms which will begin to turn the compost into a nutrient dense soil that will feed my spring garden.
  • Plant fava beans from seed –. One of my four son-in-laws is an Egyptian (and a very good gardener). A big part of his food culture includes fava beans.  I had never eaten or grown a fava bean before he joined our family.  Now they are one of my favorite things to grow.  This is a good weekend to plant them.  You can plant them now until about Thanksgiving to ensure a long harvest.  Click here to read an article I did on them a few years ago: Succession Planting of Fava (Broad Beans) in the Potager.

Last week, Sally and I made this arrangement for her mother.


  • Enjoy those flowers – One of my favorite things about gardening is making cut flower arrangements. Sally and I grow lots of flowers and herbs that we use in arrangements for our house, our guest house and for friends.  Cut flowers early in the morning and drop them immediately into cool water.  To extend the time you get to enjoy your arrangements keep them away from windows and gas stoves
  • Mulch – While tough summer weeds like Bermuda, spurge and purslane are slowing down, fall broadleaves like pigweed are coming on. Give your beds a good weeding and then mulch, mulch, mulch!  Mulch will suppress weed germination.  Plus, a good thick layer of mulch will insulate the roots of your perennials and ensure they come back for you in the spring .

Right now my lycoris are stunninging. This lovely shot is of L. radiate and L. aurea.


  • Plant rye grass now – September 15 used to be the date that landscapers put out rye grass. Thanks to climate change that date is no longer accurate.  Plant rye grass when day time temperatures are in the 70s to low 80s and night time temperatures are 20 degrees cooler.  For very detailed instructions on how to properly over seed with rye, check out my article entitled “Doing Rye Grass Right”.


I share these posts on Our SimpleHomestead Blog Hop.  Be sure to stop by.  The “hop” has tons of great information from gardeners and homesteaders all over the world!

Succession Planting of Fava (Broad Beans) in the Potager

The only way to get your small garden to continuosly produce is to practice succession planting.  Succession planting is nothing more than putting something in the ground as soon as something else comes out.  Since my potager is so small, and I love a steady supply of fresh veggies, I have to be fairly deligent in the way I manage my plantings. 

This past weekend, I harvested all but one of my cauliflower plants.  This freed up the middle of my four triangular beds for something else.  I decided to replace the cauliflower with fava beans (or Broad Beans for my English readers).  I also took this opportunity to plant a few more radishes, some round Paris Market carrots and Green Arrow English Peas.

I have never eaten or grown fava beans before.  However, the seeds were a gift from my dear friend and gardening mentor, Cythia Mueller.  So, in honor of my friend, and in keeping with my tradition of trying new things, I decided to plant them where my cauliflower had been. 

Fava beans (Vicia Fava) are a cool season crop that have been grown for millenia.    While native to North Africa and Southwest Asia, they are widely cultivated around the world.  It is believed that along with lentils, peas and chickpeas, fava has been in production for over 6000 years.  It is also interesting to note that they are not true beans.  Fava beens are legumes; but they are more closely related to vetch than they are to green or lima beans.

Fava beans are a great choice for the fall Texas garden.  They love a nice loamy soil, but will grow well in less perfect soils.  They will also tolerate soils with high salinity so that makes them a great choice for the Bryan-College Station area.  Fava are a true cold weather crop and they can take just about anything our winter can throw at them.  They will survive freezes into the the twenties.  Even though I planted mine on December 31, most people in our area plant them around Thanksgiving.  They grow best at temperatures between 40 and 70 degrees F and they will not set beans once the night time temps go above 75 degrees.

Here you can see how I use the end of my hand rake to make holes for large sized seeds

Fava beans produce a thick, square stalk and can grow to heights of three feet or more.  The leaves of these tall plants can be harvested and used like spinach.  Their white flowers are streaked with black.  Since black is a very unusual color in the plant world I can’t wiat for these plants to bloom so I can see it for myself.   Also, those lovely white and black flowers are edible.

Here you can see me placing the beans in their holes. And yes, that is a Baylor hat on my head. I did my undergraduate in Waco so I can wear that hat with as much pride as I have when I wear my maroon hats. BTW, did you see the Alamo Bowl? Awesome! Sic 'em Bears!

Fava beans should be planted about an inch deep.  You can plant them every four inches or so but they need to be thinned to about 8″ apart.  I used the end of a hand rake to make holes in my soil about 1″ deep and about 9″ apart.  Next, I placed the beans in the hole, covered them with soil and watered them in.   Now, if eveything goes right, I should be picking my favas by mid-March.  What do you think the odds are that the temps will stay below 75 until then?