Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lawn Replacement Rebates Renewed

Succulents are excellent landscaping plants for our mediterranean climate 
The Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) announced that rebates for replacing your lawn with climate appropriate low water-using plants have been extended to June 30, 2015. (UPDATE: REBATES RENEWED THROUGH 2015)

This means that the current rates of reimbursement per square foot of lawn or pools removed will remain at the high rates of $2 for Mountain View and much of the county, and an enticing $4 for Palo Alto. Call the SCVWD hotline (408) 630-2554 for more information, or see their web page.

It's not difficult to qualify if you have an existing lawn and/or functioning swimming pool that you'd like to replace. See my previous post for tips and links to resources.

 Thymes and sages are approved plants for lawn replacement rebates

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Crimson Flowered Broad Beans or Favas

A special, old variety of fava, er, broad beans
Normally I call these fava beans, but with respect for this lovely bean's origins, I'm including broad bean in the title of this post. What we call fava beans in the USA are called broad beans in the UK. I was stopped in my tracks when I first saw them flowering at Seed Savers Exchange's (SSE) Heritage Farm in Decorah Iowa last summer. 

Crimson-flowered Fava Bean growing in SSE's diversity garden
Fava beans are one of my must-grow crops every fall to spring season. In the San Francisco Bay Area they're the perfect thing to grow over our mild winters. They can take our frosts, and if I plant them in the fall I can count on eating fresh fava beans in the spring around April. But I had never seen this gorgeous red variety.

The common fava flowers are white with black splotches  
Far from being a novel and modern cultivar, the crimson flowered fava was apparently saved from extinction by the Heritage Seed Library after receiving a donation of only four seeds from a gardener in Kent in 1978. 

I got my seeds from fellow SSE member Christina Wengar, who is the sole seed steward for this variety in SSE's member's yearbook, where members go to discover which seeds are available to request from other members. 

When I searched for other seed sources I found some in the UK and Australia, and those sources referred to the crimson flowered fava as being very rare.

My fava spring salad

I can't wait to try out the crimson favas in my favorite fava dishes. And yes, you can bet I'll be saving those seeds!

Photos: Patricia Larenas, Urban Artichoke