Archive for December 28th, 2018


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.





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