We all need a period of venalization to bed down and take heart during winter months, and although I leave the garden fallow till late February, I always look forward to demolishing my compost heaps, mixing them with leaf mould and the contents of my Hotbin, then barrowing this dark brown mixture around the beds in the garden in late January.
I pick a sunny day and set off to the bottom of the garden under the oak tree. My collection of cobnuts is covered with chrome yellow catkins and the ground full of stinking iris and its mate the stinking hellebore, distracting the eye from the bank of compost bays, builders’ bags of rotting leaves, piles of cardboard, boxes of woodchip and my Hotbin, not the prettiest of sights, but the heart of the garden, and what gardening is all about.
I dismantle the main garden heap on to a large sheet (and find this year’s cache of lost tools), then add leaf mould, a little rotted woodchip and then the cake mix contents of my Hotbin and rake them together, decanting them into the wheelbarrow to plonk in all my raised beds. I carefully tuck and pat the compost round the base of shrubs, bushes and fruit trees, covering perennials and sprouting bulbs.
I sleep well at night, snug after a good day’s work and smug in the knowledge that I and my garden’s insect, bacteria and fungi cohorts, combined with ideal warmth and moisture have created the best feed and conditioner for my soil and hopefully the heart of next year’s bounteous crop.