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Quote of the Day: Linda Joan Smith

July 3rd, 2011

The growth of the garden follows our lead. To plant and nurture and prune and tie is to bend the garden to our own designs, to shape it to our bidding. It rewards us for our protection and guidance with an extended season of growth and living architecture rooted deep within the earth. We use the tools that nature lends us, and our gardens flourish.

Linda Joan Smith (Smith & Hawken Garden Structures)

When we first moved to Chiot’s Run the gardens were a wasteland from years of neglect and chemical applications. The soil was devoid of life, the only insect life to be seen were slugs and earwigs, no birds could be found flitting about the garden and I didn’t see an earthworm in the dry yellow soil for the first four years. We set about transitioning the gardens to organic by adding chicken manure, chopped leaves, compost and lots of mulch. After nine years of work nurturing the soil the soil is finally teeming with life.

Every time I dig I see an earthworm and other soil life. The soil in many parts of the garden is starting to turn brown and loamy. A wide variety of insects and birds can be seen, each attracted here because of the array plants we have and the sources of food and water we provide. I’m happy to see them all, both good and bad, because I know they all play a vital role in our garden.

It’s really nice to finally start seeing the rewards for our efforts. It took a few years before we noticed much change at all. If you’re in the process of transitioning from chemical to organic be patient. Your efforts will be rewarded greatly as the years go on!

What changes have you noticed in your garden as you’ve been nurturing it?

10 Comments to “Quote of the Day: Linda Joan Smith”
  1. Sherri on July 3, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Wonderful pictures! We too, are in transition to organic from VERY heavily sprayed. The previous owners had no flower or vegetable gardens, just lawn and a double tree line on 3 sides of the 2.5 acres. They sprayed heavily 3x/year with agricultural strength weed killer so there was not a single weed to be found. Just perfect trees and lawn in flat, sterile looking soil with absolutely no life in it. We called it “moon dirt”.

    We have been here 2 years and have tirelessly worked to amend with leaves, chicken manure and compost. It feels like we’ll never “get there” but as you say, we need to be patient :) This year, we have all manner of insects and songbirds on the property and earthworms are finally prolific in the vegetable garden. I have big dreams for the rest of the property but it’s going to take me 10 years…

    Reply to Sherri's comment

  2. Melissa on July 3, 2011 at 8:31 am

    I’m not sure what the previous owners did to our yard- I do know they didn’t do much though! But I can tell a difference even in just one year here. I’ve got ladybugs this year! They were nowhere to be seen last year. Got some hornworms too, but the catfish love those!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  3. tj on July 3, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    …I love the little yellow and black striped bugs, what are those?

    …Also, isn’t that squash bugs in that photo? If they are, *shudders*…I squish them. I grow pumpkins, cukes and squash and to keep ’em at bay organically I walk around the garden from plant to plant and inspect each one and squish ’em when I find ’em. We sooo have a hate relationship going on…lol

    …Have a happy & safe July 4th! Beautiful photos too btw!


    Reply to tj's comment

    • Susy on July 3, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      I think it might be a squash bug, I leave them be. I notice that they seem to prey on what look like flea beetles on the thistles in my garden. I’ve been trying to learn to appreciate even the bad insects in the garden as they have an important role as well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. Michele on July 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Clay soil so heavy that took the husband using a pick ax to break the clay. The only thing that grew here was weeds. Wild life: slugs, earwigs and ants. We added: sand, mulch, compost, soil, lime, manure and the kitchen sink.

    A few years ago we saw the return of the praying mantis, we were so excited! We also have toad vistors that I think are hanging out in the rain gardens.

    Reply to Michele's comment

  5. Tammey on July 3, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Oh my..I love those gloves!

    Reply to Tammey's comment

    • Susy on July 3, 2011 at 8:52 pm

      I know – me too – but the pattern got cut and never made it into production. Very sad because they are so awesome! But they do have a ton of other great combos to choose from (see link in sidebar).

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • KimH on July 5, 2011 at 6:59 pm

        Oh no.. I was actually gonna go order some.. I love the way they look.. phoey. Still gonna check them out, but that pic is a great advertisement. Too bad for me! :(

        to KimH's comment

  6. Sue Nugent on July 4, 2011 at 8:57 am

    We dealt with similar problems here. We were 20 + years working with the soil around the area of our house and yard, then we had a house fire, and after the bulldozers finished clearing everything away,we had to start all over again,building up the soil to where it would sustain life once more.It is a slow go, but ,thank goodness, I enjoy every minute of it..

    Reply to Sue Nugent's comment

  7. KimH on July 5, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Where my little woodland sanctuary is was once a driveway with stone coal and gravel.. Not sure if the coal imparts anything good to the plants but its pretty lush back there now. When I started it, it was just weeds and pathetic looking weeds at that. I’ve been working on it for about 6 years adding lots of organic matter of various forms. Its a happy little peaceful place teaming with plenty different lifeforms.

    Reply to KimH's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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