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!

Veggie Garden Update


As usual, summers in Texas are a bit rough, with temperatures varying from the high 90s to 110. We had our hottest ever July day. It doesn’t rival 2010, but it has been a hot year with very little rain.


Last year was a bad one for okra, and my poor production has continued this year. I’m not sure if it is root-knot nematode again this year, or the extreme heat. It was the 110 degree day that halted production.


The peppers have had a stellar year, since I added slow release sulphur to the beds, to fix the PH problem. My new favorite pepper is from Baker Creek Heirlooms, called Habanada. It is a non-spicy Habenero, and the flavor is amazing! I only planted 3 plants, but have gotten well over 100 peppers. I’ve been putting them in everything. I also tried Marconi for the first time, and this one will be on my repeat list as well. It is a large yellow bell pepper with great production, and flavor.


Melons produced pretty well, and I am still getting a few.


The tomatillos usually die out in the heat of the summer, and this year they lasted a bit longer. I don’t know how long they can hang on, and if I’ll get any fall production.


Malibar Spinach is thriving, and such a lovely plant.


Summer beans are just starting to produce, with black-eyed peas leading the pack.

Cut and Come Again Zinnias have been the star of the garden. They seem to like a good soaking every 3 days. My vases have been full all summer. I’ll definitely be planting these again.


I’ve let the cowpen daisies take over this year. They spread pretty aggressively, but are easy to pull out so I’ve just let them do their thing. They make the veggie garden pretty, when most things are hanging on for dear life.


As usual, the thai basil has done the best of the varieties. I don’t really care for the flavor, but it is a favorite of the bees. The honey bees have disappeared lately, maybe due to the abundance of robber flies, but I have seen a few bumbles hanging around.

I just started fall seeds this past weekend under the grow lights, so despite the heat, fall is just around the corner!