The blue lupin green manure crop just before I pulled it out - almost too pretty to pull.
The pile of twitch covered with weedmat for a year turned into good soil plus dry roots.
Around this time last year I laboriously extended the vege garden by another few square metres, hauling out twitch and removing hundreds of stones, large and small. Wilby the terrieriste supervised me. He especially enjoyed snoozing on top of the big pile of soft, warm twitch that I dug out. But I spoiled his bed when I covered the pile with sheets of weed-mat, weighted down with rocks and boards.
I planted corn and pumpkins in the cleared patch in October, and while they grew the twitch started rotting down under its cover. After harvesting the vegetables (which are greedy feeders) in March I sowed blue lupins as a green manure crop where they had been. Two weeks ago I pulled up the lupins, and I also took the plastic off the twitch. Underneath I found a mixture of old dry dead roots and good new soil, made from the rotted leaves of the twitch and the soil left on its roots when it was pulled out. I raked away the old roots and put them in the compost heap (which was badly in need of carbon, so that was good).
As soon as time allows I will give the new patch of garden soil that formed under the twitch pile its first digging over (which will be easy with no twitch to pull out). Meanwhile I have broken the lupin plants up a bit, put them back on the soil they came from, and covered them loosely with some overly-wet and nitrogenous compost (the remains of a cold winter heap). The worms will now get to work on this lovely tucker, and by the time I am ready to plant main crop potatoes at the end of October there will be some enriched soil to do it in.
Improving the soil and making more of it is the foundation of eco-gardening. It's not that difficult since nature does most of the work. All the gardener does is nudge things along faster than they would otherwise go in the process of soil formation, by growing green manure crops and adding suitable materials from other sources. Soil is basically Minerals (rock particles which can be as coarse as sand or as fine as clay) plus dead Animals and Vegetables (once living things made up mainly of nitrogen and carbon which are processed by organisms living in the soil into humus or fine organic matter). We can't make more minerals for our soils and in any case we don't need to – the humus is the good stuff for making more plants grow, and that we can make without much trouble.
The broken-up lupins spread on the ground, with the first load of compost on top of them.
Two weeks later the lupins are starting to rot down, and I have sowed beans in the fine soil created by previous soil-making efforts. The boards are to for standing on when working the beds, to prevent compaction of the soft, airy soil around the roots of growing plants.
A soil rich in humus will also be full of earthworms. It will be fine, loose and soft, and can usually be made ready for the next crop just by forking it over to remove weeds - no other digging required. It feels good that parts of my garden are already this in this satisfactory state, and the rest is on the way. It is well worth the initial effort I put in, and I can't thank the worms enough for their contribution.