Some gardeners have an extraordinary ability to make even the most mundane tasks look magical. Take Susy Morris. Her small Ohio garden – better known to readers of her gorgeous blog as Chiot’s Run – is groaning under the weight of food for the kitchen, yet singing with golden sunlight.
It hasn’t been an easy ride to magical golden sunbeams though. In fact, the garden had lost a great deal of its topsoil when the house was built more than a decade ago. But that wasn’t all.
‘The gardens were in terrible shape from several years of neglect and too many chemical pesticides and fertilisers,’ says Susy. ‘It has taken years to reset the balance of nature and we’re finally starting to see the fruits of our efforts.
‘We are starting to unearth worms when we dig and we are seeing more and more birds and beneficial insects in the gardens. The structure of the soil is starting to improve after years and years of hard work amending it with all kinds of organic material.’
Susy and her husband never set about to be serious gardeners. ‘Our original plan was to develop a low-maintenance garden because neither of us was particularly interested in gardening,’ she recalls. ‘Along the way something changed and I got more and more interested in gardening.’
And so the lawn began to recede as Susy created more space for edible and ornamental planting. Three years ago, the couple decided to focus their energies on growing more and more of their own food, and have grown increasingly interested in heirloom varieties.
Susy’s enthusiasm for organic gardening is burgeoning. ‘I love to make compost. I’m always excited to discover new things that I can add to my compost pile, like biodegradable sponges and dryer sheets.
‘I don’t use any chemical or organic pesticides. I try to leave nature to its own devices. I am a firm believer that if you kill off the bad insects, you won’t attract the beneficial ones. As a result I occasionally lose a plant or a crop, but in the long run I think it is better for the garden as a whole.
‘I try to keep my gardens as a closed system, producing all the fertiliser I need.’
This noble attitude towards growing extends to Susy’s range of homemade fertilisers such as comfrey, chicken manure, and bat guano from a local church. She is even considering planting native plants at the borders of her property for the deer to nibble on. Few gardeners would want to actively sacrifice precious plants to pests, but when you look at her bowls full of lettuce and radishes, and peonies nodding softly in the flowerbeds, it seems Susy has made the right choice.
All photos copyright Susy Morris. All rights reserved. It is illegal to use photos without the express permission of the owner.