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It’s time to give your soil back some of the things your crops have taken out during the growing season. KG editor Steve Ott explains how to get your veg patch into tip top condition for the year ahead

Ever gazed on beautiful green fields with cows or sheep grazing in the sunshine? The verdant green grass seems to feed the hungry animals without ever receiving anything in return and once they have moved on, it quickly regrows and seems none the worse for the experience. Yet that’s not the whole picture.

As they feed, the animals digest the grass and deposit it back in the form of manure and urea (in copious quantities if you’ve ever walked over one of those fields). It might be unintentional, but they put back much of what they take as they graze. A myriad of organisms works on the manure and incorporates it into the soil, which is enriched and rejuvenated. Fallen leaves and rotting vegetation add still further to the rich mix of humus and nutrients; all part of nature’s natural cycle.

On the veg plot, rather than cows and sheep we have hungry crops and, what’s more, in an effort to get as much as we can from a small patch of soil we plant them intensively. The crops are either removed completely to be eaten or we harvest the fruit they produce afterwards, pulling up the plants and taking them away. Without putting something back our veg plots would quickly become unproductive, but now that most crops have been harvested it is the time to redress the balance.

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About Kitchen Garden Magazine

Welcome to Kitchen Garden Magazine In this issue: ON THE VEG PATCH This month Joyce Russell takes over our jobs on the plot feature. Joyce is busy tending to leeks, preparing bean trenches, sorting seeds and lifting celeriac IN THE GREENHOUSE KG regular Martin Fish moves into the greenhouse and polytunnel from this issue and is having a winter clean up, preparing the soil for spring crops and pruning grapes THE CULTIVATED PLOT In the first part of his new series, Graham Strong gets his new plot into shape for spring sowings MEET THE BLOGGERS This month we meet Hayley Moisley, a young blogger with a bright future in the world of allotment gardening