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The plot is starting to look really empty now, and thoughts turn to next year.

And to compost.

I've cleared out all the pumpkins and harvested all the carrots.

The carrots were, of course, in the root break. In your traditional 4-crop rotation, the roots are followed by the potatoes. It's staggering to think that I'm planning year three already - the potatoes are about to occupy their third quadrant. Just one year more after that, and I'll have done a complete rotation.

The thing about potatoes is that they are one of the few crops you can put fresh compost or manure on. Roots will fork, and beans aren't really that bothered. The "difficult" third quadrant - the miscellaneous - can usually take compost, especially if you tend to grow as many gourds as I do. But, potatoes get it first.

This is also the reason that roots go fourth. They really don't want anything that encourages them to make extra roots. We're usually after one big root per plant. Carrots, parsnips, beetroot and the rest of them store better, look better and are easier to cook with one nice long (or fat, depending on variety) root. I don't think it makes much difference to the taste, but we do like to store them for a good few months. Maybe up to 10.

So, where the carrots were is now covered by all the two-year old compost.

People get very concerned with making compost. This is usually because they want to fast. Well, I don't have the time to rush things, so I make my compost slowly.

My compost bins have a capacity of about 2.5 cubic meters. It takes all year to fill one. Well, it doesn't actually take that long. When I get raking leaves, I can fill one in an afternoon. Mowing with the big mower in early summer can fill one in a few hours. But, I fill it many times in a single year. I fill it to overflowing, and soon enough it starts to sink down into itself, ready to be topped up.

You can layer your compost according to the science - by no means a bad thing - but I don't. You can turn it once or twice a year, but I don't do that either. I make sure that I get a really good mix of vegetable matter in there.

A thick layer of leaves will probably take more than a year to decompose properly, but if you mix it in with grass clippings and carrot tops and ashes from the occasional Social Event With Fire (and the stove, of course) and some piggy poop (if you have such a thing!), it doesn't really matter if it gets all the way down to thick delicious humus. I prefer my compost to finish on in the field anyway.

So, I shipped it all out, piled it up where the carrots were and it can stay there for the winter. I like to think that if I keep it at about 30cm depth now, it'll protect the ground for a while, but also give the worms a really good target to have a go at. Let them pull it into the soil, saves me the trouble of having at it with a fork in spring.

And then, start filling it back up again!

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