Week 34 Tips for the Zone 9 Garden

Well, I learned an expensive lesson today.  If you water your black gumbo yard for 23 hours it still will not close up the cracks that the July and August heat have made!  Yep!  I ran the sprinkler ALL DAY,  And yes, my wife asked me if I had turned off all of the water before we went to bed last night.  Oh well, live and learn.  At least I know my trees and primrose jasmine are now DEEPLY watered as they head into fall.

Even though it is hot and dry, this is going to be a great weekend in the garden.  Forecast says highs in the low to mid 90s with a chance of showers. So start early, drink lots of fluids and get a big part of your fall garden in the ground.

Provide ample fertilizer and water to any veggies that are still producing

Provide ample fertilizer and water to any veggies that are still producing


  • Remove old mulch and burn it – I use spoiled hay to mulch my vegetable garden. Regardless of what you mulch with you will need to remove any that is left and bag it or burn it.  Do not put it in the compost.  Spent mulch is full of bug eggs and larvae.  A warm compost pile is the perfect place for garden pests to over winter
  • If its growing, feed it – I still have okra, purple hulls and tomatoes growing in my garden. This weekend is a great time to feed them.  Side dress with finished composed or give them a foliar application of fish emulsion or other water soluble product.  If using commercial fertilizers apply a high nitrogen blend at a rate of 1 cup for ten feet of row
  • Plant potatoes – You can plant potatoes now. It is better to plant small, whole potatoes, as opposed to cut up pieces, in the fall.  The extremely warm soil will rot potato pieces that are not thoutoghly scabbed.

Cannas are great, heat tolerant plants that bloom all throughout the summer.


  • Weed, feed, water and mulch – August is a tough time on existing plants and a tough time for establishing new bedding plants. Take advantage of slower growth rates to remove tough weeds like Bermuda.  Once an area is weeded, sprinkle a little fertilizer, mulch and water.  Water every three or four days.  This will get your beds in prime shape for planting later in the month

Trees and Lawns

  • Baby your pecans! – The shells of pecans are beginning to fill with fruit. Keep your pecan trees well watered to ensure your best possible crop
  • Cut out bag worms – If you see bag worms forming in your trees, cut them out before they get too big. If you have missed them and you have a large mass, use your long handled pruners to open up the webs to encourage the birds to come in and clean up larvae
  • Be on the lookout for chinch bugs – August is prime time for chinch bugs. While chinch bugs can definitely do a lot of damage to St. Augustine lawns, they can be controlled if caught early.  My buddy Randy Lemmon (host of Garden Line on KTRH) has a great article about how to identify and treat them.  Click here to learn more.

Pecans are filling their shells with fruit right now so keep your trees well watered!

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!

A Monday Holiday

Surprise Easter Lilies

We have been so busy with the holidays and the remodel that our beds have suffered.  All of them need weeding and trimming.  This past Monday was so lovely that my wife and I decided to do some of that much need yard work. We started the morning by cutting back the Lantana that grows by our back deck.  While we were pruning I got one of those little surprises that I just love in the garden.  Tucked under the leaves and the bare branches of last year’s lantana was this year’s Easter Lilies!  Truth be told, I had forgotten they were there.  I won a single stem at our church picnic last summer and I just stuck it in the ground.  Well, that was a good decision.  That one plant has now divided and given me five new plants for the price of one.  I have never grown Easter Lilies before so I am not sure if this much division is common, but I am excited about it.

The Milk and Wine Crinums that I moved

After we cleaned up our mess I decided to do my absolute favorite garden chore – move things!  Fall is the best time for this, but, with a little care, you can move plants anytime of the year.  My friend and garden mentor Cynthia Mueller says that if you move a plant correctly, it won’t even know its been moved.  I have fully embraced her advice.  The first thing that I moved was a bunch of milk and wine crinums (Crinum x herbertii).  I got my crinums from a friend.  I think that is how most people get them.  I had several small clumps scattered around the yard so I decided to dig them up and make two masses on either side of my propane tank.  I am hoping that their lush spring and summer foliage will help camouflage my ugly propane tank.  Next, I moved a few clumps of daffodils and narcissus that were left by the previous homeowner.  He had planted them willy nilly all over the place.  I am slowly trying to sort them out and plant them in masses.

The "Don Juan" climbing rose that I hope is about to swallow my arbor

Once I ran out of things to move, I did a little planting.  Since I have recently finished the arbor in the picket fence, I planted a Don Juan climbing red rose at the base of it.  Don Juan is a fairly aggressive climbing rose that can grow to 15’.  It has very beautiful deep red velvety double petals and it smells terrific.  I have high hopes that it will be stunning on my white arbor. 

Next, I got to plant some Primrose Jasmine (Jasminum mesnyi) that I have been nursing for the past nine month.  I planted these on the east side of my house.  My house is on a slope and it sits up on blocks, so I have a lot of space between the ground and the bottom of the windows.  Since primrose jasmine makes mounds up to 10’ feet high, I figure this is the perfect plant.  Primrose jasmine is an old-fashioned plant that is often called “Fountains of Gold”.  You can see them growing at old home sites all over Texas.  These plants make a huge mound of arching branches that are covered in double yellow flowers in the spring.  I got mine by pulling up shoots from an existing plant and then potting them.  I have kept them alive now since last spring and I am very glad to finally have them in the ground.

The shrimp plant that I divided and planted in the flower bed

To finish things up, I divided some shrimp plant that I had in a pot.  This one pot made four lovely clumps that I put by the steps to my deck.  I also planted some Society Garlic and day lilies that I had in pots.  I also planted a whole flat of dwarf mondo around the “stump” stepping stones that lead to my faucet.  All in all it was another relaxing and rewarding holiday at the nest.