Tag Archives: yardwork

Who Needs Flowers Anyway?

Most people create beautiful landscaping in their front yards. Curving flower beds, lined with stones or rocks or edging. We did that, too.

But we live in North Texas. Have you experienced a typical summer in North Texas? It’s HOT.
Year after year, we would buy several flats of flowers and make the flowerbeds all pretty in the spring. Then by the end of June, the flowers start to look haggard. By August, the several days of intense 100+ degree heat will have fried the plants to a crisp.

What did we have to show for all the hard planting work?
Not much. Mostly a bunches of dried up, scraggly plants in the flower beds that have to be cleaned up. Bleh.

What could we do to have pretty flower beds, but not toss a lot of money out in the compost trash when it all died?

Plant a garden!

One of the side gardens with four different kinds of lettuce in front of the broc.

One of the side gardens with four different kinds of lettuce in front of the broc.

Winter vegetables are very pretty and love the cold. If you’re in a climate that doesn’t have frozen ground in the winter and you want to garden, why not plant a garden in the front flower beds?  One of the garden experts at our local feed store told me once that he doesn’t plant anything in his front yard unless it’s edible. He doesn’t have much of a backyard, so he takes advantage of what he does have.

This is the second year that we’ve planted broccoli–more than 40 plants across the entire length of the beds. They have lettuce and carrots and spinach to keep them company–although those aren’t growing as I expected. *pouts*

Would you plant your vegetable garden in your front flower beds?  What would you plant? I’d love to hear your gardening plans or experiences!

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You Had Me at “Lighted Keyboard”

One day my husband asked me if I wanted a MacBook.  I hesitated.  I’m a computer girl.   I use three different versions of Windows at work.  I understand how the operating systems work.  He was asking me if I wanted to learn yet another operating system, and I didn’t like it.  His Mac baffled me even more than his iPhone did.

Honey: “You need to upgrade from that tiny netbook.”

Me: “But I like my netbook.  It fits in my purse bottomless pit.”

My netbook with its custom skin.

Honey: “You’ll like the size of the screen better.”

Me: “I don’t use the netbook for that much stuff.  I don’t need bigger.”

Honey: “You’re blogging now.”

Me: “I’ll think about it.”  What I was thinking: “I don’t want to think about it.  Mac scares me.”

Later that afternoon, I was typing away at our home computer in the study.  It got dark in the room as the sun went down.  I had to turn the light on so I could continue working.

You can stop laughing.

I’d like to think I’m a fairly decent typist, er, keyboarder.  I took typing in high school on a electric typewriter and was good enough to earn the privilege to type on one of the fancy advanced ones that had correction tape.

I’m not saying I was great and error free. Being able to type came in handy in college when I had to write ten page papers.  (I didn’t feel sorry for my friends when they complained about three pages.)

By the time I graduated from grad school, typing class was called keyboarding.  Students learned on computers–disabled backspace key, no correction tape.  I still call it typing.

Here’s the thing.  I can type without looking at the keyboard.  I can type with my eyes closed.  I cannot type in the dark.

Seriously, you can stop laughing now.

What is it that makes my fingers completely misbehave when the sun goes down and darkens my home office?  It’s not as if my fingers can see what they are typing.

My husband walked by and said, “The Mac has a lighted keyboard.”

Sold!

He could have lead with that feature.

Since then, I’ve been learning how to navigate my updated MacBook Pro.  Switching desktops, deleting files, finding files–it was enough to overwhelm me at first.  I told a friend (an avid Mac user) and he welcomed me to the Dark Side.

The double-finger and triple-finger swiping are getting comfortable.  So much so that I tried double-finger scrolling on my work laptop this week.  Just so you know, it didn’t work, and I was disappointed.  How did that happen so fast, my acclimating to the Dark Side that is Apple?

My little netbook with its custom made skin sits quietly in a corner waiting for me to use it. Sorry, it’s not going to happen. It doesn’t have a lighted keyboard.

Now, I can type in the dark. *happy dance*

Are you still laughing?  What kind of computer do you use?

If you’re checking, here are my ROW80 goals for the week:

  • Finish the minutes for the PTA meeting and send them for approval.
  • The back garden beds are ready, so now I need to plant kale, spinach, and carrot seeds.
  • Write as if I’m not a NaNoWriMo rebel this week.  😀
  • Make chicken soup and venison stew for the week.
  • Get back to 3 or more blogging posts a week.

Eating Green Bean Blossoms

I completely spaced for my Tuesday post this week.  I’ll have something crazy for next week. 🙂

Last weekend was beautiful.  It was perfect for gardening.  My husband and I conscripted Daughter 1 to help clean up the summer garden beds in the backyard.  Daughter 2 cared only about whether we were going to plant the seeds.  She went inside when she got the news that the beds had to be cleaned up and prepared first.  Deserter!

Out came the eight-feet-tall okra plants.  I salvaged the last of the edibles, and Daughter 1 picked a few large ones for seeds.  The cuccuzza (Italian squash) vines were taken down from the fence they’d taken over.  I found one small squash that will be yummy in something.  The last of the green beans yielded a small handful of beans and blossoms.

What?! Eat flowers?

The blossoms are edible and wonderful.  They taste surprisingly like green beans.  The ones I picked ended up on my lunch salad the next day. Yum!

Before you start eating flowers, make sure the blossoms are edible.  This article about edible flowers by Linda Stradley at whatscookingamerica.net explains how to choose edibles.  Don’t use blossoms from a garden with pesticides.

Recently, I learned that squash blooms are also edible.  I wish I’d known that when we had squash growing this summer.  The Seasonal Chef’s squash blossom recipes are now on my list for next summer.  You can eat these without affecting a plant’s squash production. That’s not the case with green beans because the blossom is the bean eventually.

I’ve grown and eaten nasturtiums.  The leaves and flowers add a little something to a salad.  Dandelion flowers aren’t something I’ll add to a meal, even though they are abundant in my yard (LOL).

What do you think?  Would you consider eating edible blossoms?  Have you done so before?  If so, what did you eat and how did it taste?

Finally, #ROW80 update:

  • The back garden beds are ready for planting prep.   Need to turn the soil and add some compost.
  • Work out and eat better. Food does not define me.  Yep, working on this.
  • I’m a NaNoWriMo Rebel–finish the WIP and start editing. 15-20K is the goal.  Got 50 pages edited for structure and found plot holes to fill in.  I’ve written only 1 K and Daughter 1 banished all fiction reading (unless I’m reading out loud to the girls) until I finish the draft.
  • Blogging class is in full swing (WANA International).  I have a list of topics to finish for homework.  Still working on this.

Veggies in the Front Yard

Autumn is here, finally.  It’s time for us to plant our winter vegetable gardens.  Right now, the backyard is a bit of a mess with a variety of peppers, cantaloupe taking its sweet time, and okra growing so tall that it can’t stand up on its own.  The Italian squash (cuccuza) has overrun a tree and the back fence, but it’s still producing.

We’ll cleanup and plant the backyard soon enough.  Now is the time we lay into our front garden beds.

The plants are still young in these pictures.

Yes,  front garden beds.  You read that correctly.

Every year we’ve spent too much money planting pansies, mums, and other cold-weather flowering plants.  By April or May in this Texas weather, the plants are done, and we have nothing to show for it.  Except a lot of now-ugly, dead plants in the front beds.

Last year, we tried something different.  We changed all the flower beds in the front into garden beds.  We planted broccoli plants (over 30), and seeded four different lettuce varieties.  My older daughter designed the lettuce plantings for the colors and shapes.  We also planted carrots, spinach, and kale seeds.

By late January, the beds were gorgeous with layers of greens.  My younger daughter couldn’t wait to pick broccoli for dinner, because she announced that she didn’t like the store-bought stuff anymore.  I can’t blame her.  My older daughter decided that kale chips are delicious and worth making often.

Our neighbors couldn’t believe how nice it looked, and we got no complaints.  Even the wild bunnies respected the gardens enough to leave the veggies alone (or the coyotes, foxes, and hawks policed them for us).

One of the side gardens with different kinds of lettuce in front of the broc.

Now, the broccoli plants are in and looking lovely, as baby broccoli plants go.  Next, we’ll plant the carrot and leafy seeds.

By late spring, when the broccoli is finished producing, I’ll let it flower into big yellow sprays.  Lovely.  And completely worth the extra work to make a garden grow.

Your turn…  Have you gardened?  Would you dare to use your front flower beds?  What kinds of veggies do you plant?

I hope you’ll go over to Rebecca Enzor’s blog and vote for my Marce pony entry for PonyFest12.  I’d love to win a custom-made pony!

ROW80 Check-In

  • Write at least 750 words every day on my middle grade WIP.
    Didn’t get done near as much as I wanted after a great beginning last week.  Got distracted by updating my laptop and installing Scrivener.
    New Goal: Write an average of at least 500 words per day while doing much-needed research for my middle grade WIP.
  • Submit and query my adult fantasy manuscript, HUNTER MOON.
    Last week, I submitted the manuscript to Harper Voyager (an imprint of HarperCollins).
    New Goal: Query agents.
  • Work out at least 4 times a week. I got 3 times in this week.  I’m shooting for 4 times a week this week.
  • Read a book.  I’m still reading We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media by Kristen Lamb.
  • Weather permitting goal:  Plant carrot, spinach, and lettuce seeds to accompany the broccoli plants.
  • Post at least 3 times a week here at Mermaids Don’t Do Windows.  Will keep this up!

The “Honey Do” Tell #1

In my first post, I made it clear that I’m not a mermaid.  In this post, I’m introducing a series about a certain thing my husband does.  He’s cute and I love him.

A “Honey Do” list includes stuff that needs to get done around the house. (“Honey, do this.  Honey, do that.”)

A tell is the body language or key phrase someone uses that indicates to others that he is up to something.  In poker, a tell will call a player’s bluff or give away her hand.   In football, a quarterback’s body language might “tell” the play he’s going to run and result in a sack.  I don’t play either, but I like to watch to see if I can spot the tells.

Together, the terms create the “Honey Do” tell.  I’m pretty sure everybody has one.

My husband has one.  It’s one word (his nickname for me) and an innocent sounding request.  Listen closely.  Here’s how his “Honey Do” tell starts:

“Di Di?”
Translation:  Diana, where are you?

“Di Di?”
Uh, oh.  Repetition with increased volume is translated this way:  Diana, please assist me.

Are you wondering how I got all that from his calling only my name?  Easy answer.  We’ve been married for 20 years.  I’ve heard it a few times.  It’s also the only time he calls me that.

“Will you unlock the back gate for me, please?”
Translation:  I’m about to mow the lawn.

Digging deeper, I know that he really means:  You are about to help me mow the lawn, so change into mowing clothes.

Diana Beebe

The yard begging for me not to mow it.

Next week, the teenager who usually mows our lawn will be back from vacation.  I’ll be SO happy, and the yard won’t have so many mohawks.

I thought about my husband’s “Honey Do” tell as my hands got tingly from the vibration and the mower chewed up little, inedible onions from the garden.  The yard smells yummy.  It made me wonder if raw onions might serve as an organic mosquito repellent.

Diana Beebe, dianabeebe, fantasy author; science fiction;

White, yellow, and red onions from our garden. These are edible.

My husband finished the edging and blowing before I finished the mowing, which gave him time to cool me off with a “spritz” from the hose.  Really?  OK, well, it was 100 degrees, so I didn’t mind–until the spritz became a squirt of cold water.  In all honesty, I didn’t mind that either.  It was too flipping hot.  It’s worth repeating that he’s cute.

As soon as I could, I looked up information about using onions to repel mosquitos.  I got mixed results.  Some sites mentioned onions as a possibility but expressed doubt. I found these two sites that suggest that onions might indeed repel the pesky insects:

Very nice.  I learned something new in the middle of a honey-do moment and created a possible mosquito deterrent with onion mulch.

“Di Di? Will you keep me company in the garage?”
Oh, no.  Here we go again.  I’ll tell you about this one later.

I have to admit that my first reaction is almost always, “Oh, no, what is he up to now?”  However, I can always look back at the honey-do moment and find something to appreciate.  For Honey Do Tale #1, I learned that onion mulch might repel mosquitos.

Do you have a “Honey Do” tell?  Perhaps your spouse, partner, child, parent, or friend has one.   I’d love to hear your honey-do tales.