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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.


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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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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!

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Wildflower Wednesday


Gail at Clay and Limestone hosts Wildflower Wednesday each month.


When I moved in over 7 years ago the wildflower meadow consisted of four-nerve daisies, prairie verbena, and mexican hats. I have since added blanket flower, horsemint, winecups, bluebonnets, black-eyed susan, tickseed sunflower and evening primrose.


I also found this alamo vine in the front yard this week. I tried planting this before in the back and it didn’t take, so glad one just showed up on it’s own.


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Austin Blooms


Well it isn’t quite Dallas Blooms, but I did come home to a few pretties blooming in the garden – including my very own tulip.

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Tulips have long been one of my favorite flowers, and when I learned about Dallas Blooms several years ago, it went straight on my bucket list. We don’t get cold enough here in Texas for most tulip varieties, but The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden combats this issue by planting 500,000 bulbs each winter! Spring is a difficult time to escape from my own garden, with so many tasks needing attention – and Dallas is nearly a 4 hour drive. This year I finally had a good excuse, with my daughter living in Dallas for 8 months, and I was more than happy to pay her a visit.


Saturday morning we woke up bright and early and were in line at 8:45, for the gates to open at 9. We were warmly greeted outside the garden by bold primary colors.


Once inside, you have a spectacular lake view as a backdrop to a raised bed vegetable garden. I’m always impressed with how tidy professional vegetable gardens look, so different from mine!


As you make your way through the vegetable garden, this beautiful view opens up, teasing of what is to come.


We were lucky enough to see these Saucer Magnolias in bloom, which my daughter nicknamed “Tulip Trees”.

This formal garden was bordered on each side by a mix of tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils. On the left the colors mirrored the bright colors of the garden entrance – on the right, more subtle colors of white, yellow, and blue.


This garden contained a few surprised as well. Behind one of the borders was a pop of purple and pink hyacinths. I don’t think I’d ever put this color combination together in my own garden, but it completely worked in this case.

Every angle of the formal garden presented a different visual experience. It seems that every inch has been carefully considered.

As we continued our journey through the garden, I was amazed at the different color combinations.


There was even an understated white garden.


This was my favorite of the day, so beautifully designed!

A few more of my favorite pictures.

The garden was absolutely magical! I was so happy to share it with my daughter, who seemed to be as geeked out as I was.


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These beauties can always be counted on in the middle of winter when nothing else is blooming!

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