Saying Goodbye to my Garden

The last post about my garden was back in 2018, where I posted about the many issues I ran into with tomatoes. I found that I had lost all of the joy in vegetable gardening, and the homestead had become overwhelming. The winter of 2019/2020 was my last vegetable garden. Starting in the spring of 2020 I converted the vegetable garden to reseeding annuals – sunflowers, zinnias, gomphrena, marigolds – and several herbs. We also sold our poultry and bees. It was time to simplify life.

At the peak I was spending nearly 20 hours a week on the vegetable garden. I found that I could spend a fraction of that time, and have the flower garden I had always wanted. The back garden became a peaceful oasis of purple and silver – with a few pops of red and yellow.

The hard work paid off when Central Texas Gardener filmed my garden in May of 2022. The episode perfectly captured my gardening journey, much better than I could do myself! The timing was bitter sweet, as we were contemplating a move from Texas. Shortly after filming, we decided that it was time for us to relocate and start a new adventure.

I have now said goodbye to a garden 12 years in the making. I am excited to apply what I’ve learned to a blank slate, a new style of garden in an entirely different climate. We have nearly 2 acres at this property as well, but I plan on taking it slow – not get overwhelmed. The goal is to start in spring of 2023 with the front garden, connecting us back to the neighborhood – reminiscent of our days on Roundup Trl where I gardened in the front yard. Our new house is in downtown Sun Prairie, WI, walking distance to parks and schools. I hope to create an inviting space to share with neighbors and wildlife. Even in winter we have already seen a red fox, rabbits, great horned owls, and many types of birds.

Garden Bloggers Fling 2019

This year’s fling was all about focusing on my photography skills. My roomie and friend, Cat, from http://thewhimsicalgardener.blogspot.com was kind enough to help me with composition, editing, and culling (the hardest part).

Here are my favorite pictures from the fling – all taken with my iPhone.


Texas Betony
(Stachys coccinea)


(Lupinus texensis)


(Chrysactinia mexicana)


Scarlet Flax
(Linum grandiflorum rubrum)


Lyre Leaf Sage
(Salvia lyrata)


Jerusalem Sage
(Phlomis fruiticosa)


Prairie Fleabane
(Erigeron strigosus)


Ajuga reptans ‘Mahogany’


(Aquilegia chrysantha)


Bicolor Iris
(Dietes bicolor)


Four Nerve Daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa)


(Callirhoe involucrata)


(Borago officinalis)

Blanket Flower
(Gallardia x grandiflora ‘Fanfare’)




Of all of the vegetables I grow,  tomatoes are one of my favorites. The flavor of a fresh, heirloom tomato cannot be duplicated from any grocery store.

My top choices are Emerald Evergreen, Cherokee Purple and Black & Brown Boar. I wait all year for tomato season to enjoy BLTs, which are an abomination with the flavorless perfectly round fruit, bred strictly for storage life. I spend hours on my feet, canning gallons of stewed tomatoes and salsa. I love tomatoes!



I noticed that in summer 2017 the production and flavor were lacking a bit. I observed signs of disease, but chose to ignore it. Finally in 2018 I could not deny it any longer. The tomatoes were completely inedible. The picture above not only shows the abundance of cardboard-flavored fruit, but also wilted leaves.

I had dealt with early blight in the past, but this was something different entirely.


I began doing research, and to my dismay, I discovered that I was dealing with both Nematodes and Fusarium Wilt. I grow a majority of my vegetables from seeds, and those that  I buy from seedlings usually come from one location, a local nursery that I absolutely love. I thought back and remembered the Basil I brought home several years ago that was suspicious, yet I planted it anyway.


The nematodes explain why I haven’t been able to grow Okra for 2 seasons, as okra is one of the most susceptible. Nematodes also make tomatoes more susceptible to Fusarium Wilt.

Fusarium Wilt affects the vascular system of the plant, starving it from water. The first signs are yellowing and wilting in the leaves, along with marks on the stems.


Eventually,  the leaves will begin to wilt, followed by large sections of the plant.


Finally, the entire plant will give way to the disease.

Here are a few pics which give a good view of the vascular damage.


I definitely blamed myself. If I had accepted the situation a year before, I could have been more careful. If I had used better tool hygiene the disease wouldn’t have spread to all of my beds. If I had dealt with the Nematodes sooner, they wouldn’t have reached the level where they could encourage the wilt. If I had just grown everything from seed, I wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. If I hadn’t planted that stupid Basil!


The fungi can stay in the soil for years, waiting for a new host. There is no known treatment. Three to Five years without my heirloom tomatoes.

I was seriously sad for weeks! Why bother gardening without my delicious tomatoes. Yes, I know there are peppers, melons, beans, and all of the winter vegetables, but I was inconsolable. How did this happen in my garden, obviously I was not the vegetable expert I envisioned myself to be.

I cleaned out the beds, throwing gallons of brightly colored, tasteless tomatoes into the trash – you definitely don’t want to compost any diseased plants.


Well, I eventually got here. It will be years before I can grow my favorite heirlooms, unless I want to grow them in a few large pots.


I purchased hybrid seeds from Johnny Seeds , all with VFN codes. Here is a pic from this summer of the Celebrity Tomatoes, which are resistant to wilt and nematodes. They produced well into Fall, and did make some quite edible sauces, unphased by disease.

I am treating the nematodes with elbon rye cover crop.

I will start frequenting the farmers market again this summer.

I can be a test subject for just how resistant these varieties are.

Hybrids have much better production, so it will just have to be quantity over quality for a few years.





Houmas House Plantation


For my daughter’s 21st birthday, I took her to New Orleans. I’ve been a few times, but had never seen any of the plantations just outside of town. We decided to visit the Houmas House Plantation. I chose this one due to its lovely 38 acre gardens. The only negative reviews I could find were the Plantation’s failure to recognize the part that slavery played in its history. I did a bit of research on my own and found that this Plantation housed 750 slaves, one of the largest number in the U.S. This makes it all the more disappointing that it was not touched on. I would have liked to have visited the Whitney Plantation as well, which is focused solely on slavery, but unfortunately time did not allow. We instead walked through and enjoyed the beautiful gardens, while taking time to pay our respects to those who suffered so others could live in opulence.


As we entered the garden, we were greeted by these Louisiana natives. We couldn’t help but snap a few photos.


The Greek Revival House sits in the center of the gardens, surrounded by enormous oak trees.


It is nearly impossible to capture the scale of this tree. “The Thinker” in the background is s a life-sized statue.

Paths direct you through the various rooms, often guiding you through towering archways.

Ponds of varying sizes were scattered through the garden.

As well as an impressive collection of statues.


My favorite was this lion and cub in the japanese garden. I’ve never seen one as adorable as this one. I was tempted to sneak him into my suitcase!

Late June was a bit warm in New Orleans, but it did not take away from the spectacular garden. I recommend a visit!